Generally, mobile phones are already an integral part of UC. With a mobile phone, the follow-me feature of UC allows you to be contactable with a universal phone number.
Smart phones like the iPhone are on the way to become a fully integrated part of UC. Today, you can get access to your e-mail on-the-go on a smart phone device. From e-mail on-the-go, you can get your voice mail and fax, via your in-box. You can also make and receive free calls using SIP (session initiation protocol) clients. However, easy-to-use, integrated applications on smart phones is not yet easily available for the functions of voice, video, e-mail, and instant messaging. This is expected to change as the market grows and more options will soon be available.
Video is definitely becoming an integral part of UC because of the advancement in video capabilities now available on personal computers and smart phones. Video applications like telepresence, video calling and video conferencing provide an enhanced communications experience.
What are the major challenges and opportunities of UC in Asia?
For small and medium businesses, cost for UC is still a barrier. And the majority of businesses in Asia are SMBs. However, such cost will fall in the years ahead, with computing and device cost following Moores law (Moore's law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware, in which the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled about every two years).
SMBs also find it very difficult to adopt UC systems because UC features are not available on the low-end phone systems that SMBs generally use. Today, UC products are being built with small businesses in mind, like Digiums SwitchVox SMB 4.5. Smaller businesses can now benefit from enterprise class features that were previously outside of their price range and reap benefits that will help to boost their productivity.
Increasingly, hosted UC solutions are proving to be a catalyst for UC adoption by small and large enterprises alike. Such hosted offerings are convenient and flexible, with solutions at low monthly rates now already launched by several service providers in Singapore. Whether purely hosted or bundled or managed, the service model for UC can provide high connectivity and collaboration at a lower capital expenditure.
UC is very dependent on the connectivity and reliability of the Internet. For developing countries where the cost of bandwidth is still high and connectivity to the Internet is erratic, development of UC will be limited. This differs from country to country. In Singapore, UC is poised to receive a boost in terms of better connectivity with the countrys Next Generation National Broadband Network well on the way.
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