WiFi is and has been a powerful tool, one that has allowed millions of employees to shed wires and work wherever it’s most convenient. Airports, coffee shops, hotels, living rooms, you name it, and it has changed how many of us work. Pop open your computer and in an instant you’re connected to the Internet or the corporate network. The productivity boost this has enabled is immeasurable.
As an access technology, WiFi is great. But one thing it isn’t is a key enabler to unified communications. Sure, Wi-Fi can get you on the network (or at least away from your desk), but that doesn’t mean it serves as the foundation for UC.
UC’s real benefits flow from the combination of collaboration, communication, presence, and availability. To be unified, as a team or workgroup, each member has to be aware of the status of the others, and be able to instantly connect, communicate or collaborate with one or more of them as needed, and as long as needed, in order to move forward on tasks or projects.
WiFi allows some of that. Yes, you can put on a headset and enable Skype so you can talk to your team, and you can do IM, but WiFi itself isn’t the enabling technology, it’s simply the access. What WiFi lacks in this scenario is the ability to control the communications.
For the type of control that really makes untethered UC work, wireless is key, but in the form of a cellular network integrated with a single-provider wireless network. That makes it possible to affect the way that people communicate, not just the means they use to do it.
What makes wireless so powerful in this context is the control and feature capabilities it provides, regardless of whether you are accessing the network via a cellphone, a mobile device, or a computer. With the intelligence of the network at your disposal, presence is enabled, call control is enabled, improved call routing can be enabled, etc. All things that Wi-fi can’t solve…and that your UC efforts just can’t live up to their potential.
In a sense, the future of UC is one in which an integrated wireless network becomes a true extension of the enterprise, and that gets back to that issue of control. The choice of how communications are delivered is in the hands of the enterprise, increasing not only the ability to manage and control communications, but also the security of those connections.