If you hear the word "convergence," the odds are you will think of network convergence. So would most people, certainly the average Seamless Enterprise reader. But that's only one aspect of convergence, particularly when you're talking about today's communications.
In a new white paper, Michael Suby of Frost & Sullivan denotes three types of convergence, and says it takes all three coming together to get the desired result. That result is a high degree of "information velocity," (watch the video) or information that is moving fast enough to get you what you need, when you need it, wherever you are.
There is low-speed information velocity – and we've all been there – which is when the information you need eventually reaches you, but not when you really need it. A customer asks a pricing question, and you can't get the data right then because you can't reach the right people or otherwise obtain it. High-speed information velocity assures that this vital information is only a click or a flick away.
In addition to our familiar network convergence, there are also access convergence and application convergence, Suby says.
We know about network convergence, of course, so not much needs to be said about that one. But Suby does offer an interesting analogy to a highway system, and the way he describes the inefficiencies of two distinct highways, one for cars and one for trucks, does provide some fuel for thought.
Access convergence is the integration of wireline and wireless access. As he explains it, "Only when the full, any-traffic-type attribute of a converged network can be accessed from any location – mobile and stationary, near and remote – and with the high bandwidth, always-on attributes of dedicated wireline access, can businesses take all of their information-dependent operations to wherever they need to be, now and in the future."
Application convergence is the third side of the triangle. As Suby explains, applications – like networks – have traditionally been designed to be good at what they do, but on a standalone basis. Converging them, he says, enables enterprises to reach "new heights of user productivity and business agility." Driven by user creativity and business needs, this is the realm of Unified Communications, he says, with the " ability to mix and shift between various forms of communication and collaboration applications easily and instantaneously."
Take away any one of these, and it's like a three-legged stool with only two legs – clumsy and ultimately painful. Put them together, and they create the optimum conditions for the kinds of information velocity that today's enterprises must have if they are going to be, and remain, competitive.