Frost & Sullivan says the latest trend in enterprise communications is the delivery of unified communications (UC) applications through prosumer smartphones. Just who is the prosumer and what is it that they want from IT?
The Prosumer = Professional + Consumer
The Prosumer smartphones are the most advanced mobile devices purchased by professionals to be used for both personal and work-related purposes. The short list includes the new HTC EVO 4G, Apple iPhone, Google Android, Palm Pre, as well as the BlackBerry (Bold, Tour), LG Expo and the HTC HD2.
This special set of consumers, referred to as the Prosumer, makes up one of the fastest growing segments purchasing smartphones. It is important to pay attention to this group for two reasons. One, this generation of professionals expects mobile support from their companies, regardless of whether the employee or company owns the phone. And two, organizations will need to support these devices and relevant applications for the benefits of UC to be fully realized within the enterprise.
Prosumers are bringing their smartphones (which many or most are purchasing themselves) to the workplace to store company information and to leverage the corporate WLAN connection for communication, web browsing, streaming, etc.. IT support that was once exclusive to executive management and road warriors is becoming the new normal for all enterprise employees. The good news is that it seems to be getting easier for IT.
Delivering UC applications to the Smartphone
Here are the new business models for IT today, says Frost & Sullivan:
1. Extend UC application support to consumer-centric smartphone (which requires IT to download the application software to the device and purchase/activate the license).
2. Extend UC application support AND allow the prosumer to freely download the UC soft client through the smartphone’s application store. (Requires some IT involvement to purchase/activate the license.)
3. Extend UC application support AND allow the prosumer to freely download the UC soft client AND alow the prosumer to freely use the UC application. (No enterprise IT involvement except perhaps access control).
Win-Win for Enterprise IT and Employees
It really is a win-win. Employees choose the smartphone and applications they want for their personal use, and they can still leverage the corporate UC applications from any location on their device. IT and business units avoid technology isolation and extinction. When employees purchase their phones, IT no longer has to manage the device or be concerned with inventory and updating devices. IT can even keep pace with technology advancements by offering the latest productivity apps. This is in turn keeps employees happy.
As the number of available mobile applications is exploding, the new business models make delivering UC applications easier. In fact Frost & Sullivan sees this trend as just the beginning as more and more vendors are extending their UC applications (conferencing, video, FMC, presence, and IM) to an array of business-class smartphones.