|A new era of intelligent communication
|Donald K Peterson
|Chairman and CEO
Donald K. Peterson is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Avaya, a global provider of communications networks and services for businesses. He became President and CEO of Avaya when it was spun off from Lucent and was later named Chairman. Mr Peterson began his career in telecommunications with Nortel Networks and advanced through a number of key financial, sales and general management positions in the United States and Canada. He served as Nortel’s Chief Financial Officer until appointed President of Nortel Communications Systems. Later, Mr Peterson served as the Chief Financial Officer of AT&T’s Communications Services Group until AT&T divested Lucent Technologies and he became Lucent’s Chief Financial Officer. Donald Peterson earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Dartmouth College’s Amos Tuck School. He is a member of the board of trustees of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a member of the board of overseers of the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. Donald Peterson is also a member of the board of trustees of Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association of America (TIAA), a trustee for the Committee for Economic Development (CED) and on the board of directors of Reynolds & Reynolds Co, an information management company.
Transport, the network itself, has become a commodity. Applications make networks productive by seamlessly bringing together voice, data communication and services. Open, standards-based, business communications applications address fundamental needs including telephony, conferencing, contact centres, unified communications, communication services and mobility. The increasingly blurred boundary between home and work, for many workers throughout the world, creates a huge business communication requirement. Leveraging business communications applications, as an enabler to support this mobile workforce, is a huge opportunity and challenge.
The world is smaller than ever thanks to a convergence of social, business and technological trends, for example, inexpensive telecommunication, global trade, open standards, Internet technologies. Now a whole new category of business communication applications and services promises to compress the world even further, connecting workers, customers and processes to the right people, at the right time, in the right medium, allowing agile people, countries and businesses to meet the growing demands for increased speed and precision in global trade. For the first time, organisations of all sizes are able to become more profitable and productive by enabling people, networks and business applications to work together, when they need to, anywhere they happen to be in the distributed enterprise or the world at large. The principle is the same whether one is talking about a three-office haulage firm, a multi-site hospital, or a multinational business with offices in 150 countries: in the new age of intelligent communication, time and distance are largely irrelevant. In this new intelligent communication environment, business value is delivered at the application level, not the network level. Transport, the network itself, has become a commodity. Any number of infrastructures allows business to tap into both their wired and wireless networks. What makes networks productive is a layer of business communication applications, above the network level, that bring all forms of voice and data communication together, seamlessly extracting value from the network. Business communication applications represent a new converged category of software applications and supporting services, running on open multivendor infrastructures, that bring together, under a single umbrella, a number of organisational needs and markets: telephony, email, voice messaging, unified communication, conferencing, collaboration, mobility and softphones, instant messaging and contact centres. These applications create business agility by connecting people and processes across the enterprise, intelligently embedding instant communication into the fabric of the business in ways that make people more productive, processes more intelligent, and customers more satisfied. They are the key to success in the global economy, empowering people to unlock business value from the billions of dollars of investment in existing communication and network infrastructure. Business agility Key drivers of the new age of intelligent communication are the increasingly pervasive and multiplying forms of communication supported by the growing adoption of IP-based converged networks that bring voice and data applications together on a single infrastructure and drive an unprecedented variety of smart business tools and processes. Over the past decade, traditional voice services across the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) have been in decline as business emphasis shifted to a new networking model based on the rise of the Internet and using the underlying technologies of Internet Protocol (IP). Most of the focus at the beginning of this revolution was directed toward building networks to handle the volume and variety of new data enabled by IP. As a result, data has been undergoing a fundamental move to this new architecture for more than a decade while far more mission-critical voice systems and applications have only recently been able to effectively utilise data networks. As a result, organisations were required to maintain two separate networks; one for conventional telephony, conferencing and voice messaging; another for the enormous flow of enterprise data. The development and maturation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has made the convergence of voice and data a practical reality and triggered a wave of innovation in Business Communication Appli-cations. These applications need to be delivered with the same level of security and high availability inherent in legacy voice architecture, on a converged data network that allows authorised users to connect to the right applications and services instantly regardless of their physical location. IP-based voice products have been quickly gaining market share by offering a host of exciting new applications and capabilities for collaboration, contact centres, instant messaging, unified communication, conferencing, mobility and many other productivity-enhancing uses. Evolving to intelligent communication In this unfolding world of intelligent communication, a challenge for IT managers is how to realise the business value offered by IP telephony while leveraging existing applications, user training and infrastructure investments. Most are understandably reluctant to simply rip out and replace equipment that is still functioning well. At the same time, there is a widespread recognition that IP-based systems are the inevitable wave of the future. Most CIOs and IT managers recognise the need to move in that direction. The first step a business should take in evolving to converged communication is to choose a vendor that can deliver the needed business communication applications. These should be easy and cost-effective to implement, simple to use, highly functional, secure, and offer the promise of continuing innovation. In addition, they should interoperate with different types of networks, devices and applications, and offer the promise of continuing innovation and customisation through open interfaces and support for third-party developers. In the age of intelligent communication, open, standards-based applications are the key to ability and business value. They allow businesses to protect their investments on a variety of fronts and move forward with new capabilities when it makes sense for them to do so. ‘Moving’ into the future Looking towards 2006 and beyond, we are seeing the number of mobile workers worldwide continue to grow rapidly. The boundaries between home and work are becoming increasingly blurred for many workers globally. For example, in the UK, it is estimated that 3.1 million people are now regular home-based workers. Of these, 2.4 million are tele-workers, people who work with computers and telecommunication to work at or from home. The research, a 2005 survey from UK National Statistics Agency, found a further 1 million people were working at home on an occasional basis. This trend is growing globally. Evidently, this creates a huge businesses communication requirement. Leveraging business communications applications, as an enabler to support this mobile workforce, is a huge opportunity for vendors. Before both parties rush in, it is important to take a step back, look at what businesses really require and what is realistic to achieve now. Fortunately, with a clear VoIP and mobility strategy in place for 2006 and beyond, businesses can extend communication services from the office desktop to mobile workers. They can deliver these capabilities using IP telephony and a variety of applications such as extensions to mobiles, wireless and speech access, modular messaging, and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), a universal communication socket that enables a person using one medium to communicate with someone using a different medium. More importantly, it is fundamentally linked to the idea of ‘presence’ which means that people can see, at any time, not only who is available for instant communication, but via which media. Mobile workers will be reached through their ‘one number’ on their preferred device, reducing the chance for missed calls. In addition, mobile workers can make all their calls through an enterprise converged communication system, enabling better cost management. The good news is that a wide range of these technology means are available now. In addition, these technologies can help businesses overcome the challenge of retaining control of their communications and work towards enterprise-enabled mobility. In a world where enhancing relationships with customers and improving the productivity of employees is a competitive differentiator, it is vital to ensure that workers of all types have all the communication functionality they need at their fingertips. We will see, across the world, different types of organisation and different countries will tend towards different mixes of these mobile technologies that suit their needs and cultures: there is no perfect way, just a mix of technologies that best suits the needs of a particular business. IP telephony ROI In the current economic climate IT budgets remain tight and investment in new concepts and technology is often the last thing on the boardroom agenda. All technology, particularly the communication sector is, quite rightly, scrutinised under the return on investment (ROI) microscope. Solutions should deliver operational efficiency, whilst also leveraging the existing technology investment, boost employee productivity and revenue growth. All of these benefits can be realised by IP telephony and the suitable mix of business communication applications that fit your organisation’s strategy. A powerful combination of globalisation, technological innovation and social change has ushered in a new era of global competition in which time and physical distance are largely irrelevant. From Sioux City to Shanghai, from Seoul to Sao Paulo, from anywhere to anywhere, people, societies and businesses are leveraging the global communication network and an array of open standards-based applications and devices to collaborate in real time and at the right time. Business communication applications are instant, mission-critical applications that address fundamental business needs: telephony and conferencing, contact centre, unified communication, communication services, and mobility. They have the power to change the world for the better.