Last Friday the iPad 3 was made commercially available to the world and it is incredible to think that just 24 months ago the original iPad first appeared. One could say that the tablet gold rush is a contemporary phenomenon; however, the tablet—as we know it today—is the result of countless prototypes and commercial blunders of more primitive technologies. While the success of the modern tablet is attributed in large part to Apple’s proven marketing strategy and product excellence, I would add that the underlying technologies that define the tablet experience were not ripe until recently.
If we are to reflect on the pre-iPad world, we must keep in mind that iPad’s predecessors were very different from what we have come to expect from contemporary tablet devices. The modern tablet is the offspring of personal digital assistants (e.g., Palm-Pilot), and the graphics tablets that began to appear in the early 1980s (e.g., Pencept Penpad). These technologies influenced the modern tablet concept—through form factor and functionality—and should be recognized on this date.
It is also worth mentioning that before there were consumer tablets, enterprises were making use of professional tablets that were purposely designed for different vertical markets. These were cumbersome, limited in functionality—no web browser and application store—and costly, making them a niche product. These enterprise-centric products are still around today; however, the ubiquity of the iPad and its contemporaries (e.g., Android-based tablets and the RIM PlayBook) is forcing professional tablet vendors to rethink their product strategy.
Consumer tablets have the peculiarity that they were influenced by professional tablets, and due to their commercial success and broad range of functionalities, have made their way into the enterprise space. Today, we see personally-owned tablets being used by workers across the globe and this is resulting in a paradigm shift within enterprises, particularly within IT departments. Support for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is the latest trend to hit the ICT world, and this is a direct consequence of the proliferation of tablets and smartphones.
The tablet market is a cash cow in the making. Not only are tablets here to stay, their versatility allows them to be used in almost any enterprise setting. This means that the tablet market will create new markets, making this the opportunity of a lifetime for many ICT vendors. The other side of the coin is that the tablet will destroy pre-existing markets; however, many would say this is the price to pay for progress.
Happy birthday iPad 3, we expect great things from you.
Next-generation Fixed-to-mobile Convergence Solutions - Frost & Sullivan Analysts Share Their Vision
Within the ICT team at Frost & Sullivan we often like to debate issues that pertain to the different markets we cover. It’s always good to get someone else’s perspective – especially if that person covers a market that has some relation to your field of expertise. This week the topic was fixed-to-mobile convergence (FMC), more specifically next-generation FMC solutions.
What began as a discussion on next-generation features and capabilities, quickly turned into a reflection on the importance of single-number reach – today and in a hypothetical mobile-only world. It started with a roadmap, and then a question: what do you think?
The first stage belongs to the basic PBX to mobile extensions, which still are the most popular types of FMC/Mobile UC clients utilized today. The second stage are what we call Advanced FMC clients, and the emergence of middle wares that allows for additional FMC/Mobile UC functionality, including presence, IM, audio conferencing, unified messaging, and dual-mode voice call handoff. Today, however, we are starting to witness a third wave of next-generation FMC/Mobile UC clients, which include video capabilities and social and collaborative tools. Basically, while advanced FMC solutions mostly involved "data-centric" types of communications, next-generation FMC client will be more video-centric. These next-generation mobile UC clients could also have additional characteristics such as optimization for tablets, richer thin or Web-based user interfaces, and integration with cloud-based environments, among others.
Alaa Saayed, Senior Industry Analyst and ICT Team Leader, Frost & Sullivan
I agree with the progression of FMC shown in the chart.
It would be interesting to get a timeline of Next-gen FMC that includes advanced mobile video capabilities. Current mobile extensions (both for video and web collaboration) offer limited capabilities and several of them are not truly optimized for mobile devices.
Roopam Jain,Industry Director – Conferencing and Collaboration, Frost & Sullivan
In your various stages you start with "Single Number Reach" across the board. I believe "Single Number Reach" refers to the following scenario: I have one phone number and when someone calls it my office desk phone, my mobile phone, my laptop softphone, and my home office phone all ring simultaneously. This is an important feature today. I would argue that going forward, executives in particular, and many professionals will only have a mobile phone and they will no longer have a desktop phone and/or a traditional landline at their home office. I would follow that argument, that if you only have a mobile phone, you don't need single number reach because you only really have one device anyway. I guess that executives will likely still have a mobile phone, and a tablet. They will also have a laptop, but I'm not sure that they will run a softphone on it. What's the point if your mobile device can make calls over the same WiFi network as the laptop and the tablet has a big enough screen for video con?
So long story short. Does "Single Number Reach" still have a place in your third or potentially 4th evolution?
Rufus Connell, Vice President, Frost & Sullivan
I think of single-number reach as being important even in the world of mobile only, because any given user would still have two numbers (at least in theory): a cell number, given to him by the cellular provider, and an "office number," which is just a PBX extension (i.e. it might not ever ring to an actual phone). So it would seem important going forward.
Also, single-number reach does not have to mean simultaneous ring; it can mean "ring on the device I am using," which means that people can leverage it to take business calls on their home phones, whether those are landlines or personal cells.
Melanie Turek, VP Research Enterprise, Communications & Collaboration
Re: single number reach, "world" is the key word. Business users on international travel may find it much more cost effective to route calls to whatever location they are working from. Least cost routing is a key component of single number reach.
Since no one wants to carry two phones, there's also the concept of identities. That means having a business persona and a personal persona from a single device. The device knows which identity to convey to far end-parties (i.e. which number is displayed to your spouse or customers when dialing them) and intelligently routes inbound calls per the current identity as well.
Also, IMO dual mode is/was best suited to gain traction in consumer space first. People are ditching their land lines at home and everyone is getting smart phones. This is a good example of vendor driven tech that should have progressed naturally via consumerization of IT.
Robert Arnold, Senior Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan
Just an interesting aside. I was in India recently for 2 weeks. I was able to live my business life via my smartphone only on WiFi. There were definitely a couple of occasions where I wished I had data access when I couldn't get a WiFi connection, but I certainly wasn't handicapped.
Rufus Connell, Vice President, Frost & Sullivan
Some quick comments on each one of your comments:
Roopam – Video capabilities on mobile phones is an interesting topic – some consider it useless while others think it’s going to be a huge leap forward in collaboration. No matter what side of the line you stand, the reality is that every vendor is going to offer it on the grounds that “if I don’t my competitor will”.
Rufus – I agree with the idea that everyone will eventually just have one device that serves as their mobile/work/home phone. It’s hard to say when (fixed-phone vendors are going to put up a fight), but stats seem to point out that we are moving in that direction. In a report presented to the FCC by the Technology Advisory Council (TAC), they pointed out - citing a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics - that as of May 2010, 23% of respondents in a study lived in a mobile-only household
Melanie/Rob – I agree with your explanation on why single-number reach is still valid. I personally wouldn’t want my home number to be the same as my work number. Keeping in line with what Rufus said about having only one device, you could argue “if you have one device then why does it matter if your home and work number are the same – the end result is the same”. I disagree. I think it’s important to set boundaries, and this is why FMC solutions are so important. With today’s solutions you can set restrictions with regards to who can call you based on your location and time of day. So if I get home from the office I can program my cellphone to not receive business calls after 6pm. Cool feature.
Francisco Rizzo, Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan
At Frost & Sullivan we regard mobility to be the most significant communications trend today in both the enterprise and consumer space. Whether you agree or not with the vision of a mobile-only world where fixed phones no longer exists, what’s undeniable is that the lines between professional and personal life are being blurred. FMC solutions are a huge leap forward in terms of optimizing communications and collaboration, and they are also necessary – through single-number reach features - in helping set boundaries between work and what happens after “9 to 5”.
What do you think?
To say that 2010 was a turnaround year for enterprise communications falls short of capturing the relief telecom vendors felt after having overcome the worst recession in a decade. As the economies of the world are beginning to recover, vendors are gradually refocusing their attention on issues pertinent to product and business development, and parting ways with the stress of endless budget tightening.
In the case of Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telephony (DECT) and Voice over Wireless Local Area Network (VoWLAN) handsets, 2010 and the first half of 2011 were marked by many interesting developments in terms of product functionality and application integration. Advanced alarm and man-down features, 2D barcode scanners, HD audio (wide-band), more centralized management functions, and superior ruggedized designs are some of the developments that are augmenting the value proposition of wireless endpoints.
As endpoints become more intelligent and interoperable with third-party platforms, enterprises will be more likely to consider these solutions. Not only do these devices make workers more productive (consequence of having real-time communication between workgroup members and on-demand access to information) but they also allow for better customer care (the reduction of overhead pages has proven to reduce patient recovery time in hospitals, and improve the customer shopping experience in retail stores). Furthermore, DECT and VoWLAN vendors are designing solutions around the specific needs of the different verticals (hands-free devices for healthcare and retail, and more rugged handset for extreme environments), thus adding even more value for their customers.
The effect of these technology developments is made even stronger by two important trends that have gained considerable traction in recent times - enterprise mobility and Unified Communications (UC). The manner in which employees collaborate is being redefined by UC and the mobile solutions that permit remote workers to stay connected with their office-based counterparts. A new work culture is beginning to appear within the global enterprise space, and it’s fair to say that the catalyst behind this change is technology-based.
Wireless voice solutions within the enterprise were considered a luxury in the past; however, many companies are now viewing these devices as indispensable for achieving their business objectives. As the devices evolve, the possibilities of incorporating them into the different phases of the value chain grow exponentially. In some cases these devices are even changing the way employees perform specifics tasks.
If we look at the process of cleaning up and preparing an Operating Room (OR) in a hospital, the use of wireless solutions has dramatically changed the way hospital staff carry out this particular task. Now with the simple push of a button on their wireless devices, nurses can notify other staff that the OR needs to be prepped for the next patient. As a result many healthcare institutions have been able to maximize OR turnaround and consequently have been able to schedule more procedures. This translates into greater revenue for the hospital as well as better patient care (patients don’t need to wait very long for the OR to be ready).
But the examples of improved business process through the use of wireless devices are not limited to the healthcare vertical. Retail stores are finding great value in barcode scanner integration onto the telephony endpoints. Now retail staff can scan any product in the store and make an inquiry with regards to stock availability. This eliminates the need for overhead pages as well as the time-consuming task of having to physically go check the stock room. The list goes on…
Both VoWLAN and DECT endpoints are evolving in terms of functionality and application integration. As a result, enterprises are discovering that there solutions provide much more than just audio communication. These devices are making their way into the day-to-day workflow of specific verticals and in many cases changing the way specific tasks and processes are performed.
Frost & Sullivan expects these endpoints will offer even greater features and functionality in the future. Don’t be surprised when video becomes standard on VoWLAN devices (the next big trend in enterprise mobility). With the ratification of the IEEE 802.11n standard, expect to see great advancements in data-intensive applications. As enterprise users become accustomed to the greater convenience and productivity granted by wireless devices, they will increasingly demand such solutions in their workplace, driving further growth in the VoWLAN and DECT markets.
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