We’re now comfortably into the 21st century, an era sci-fi has long awaited. While we’re still waiting on some futuristic dreams (how long until I can get that flying car?), others are within our grasp. And I mean literally at our fingertips: the mobile device you may be reading this on probably rivals’ supercomputers from the 90’s. With all of this power in our hands, keeping us constantly connected, customers are starting to expect mobility to “come standard.” It’s no longer a fad or shiny new feature –it’s mandatory.
"We’re moving from simply having mobile capabilities to seamless and integrated mobile communication and collaboration"
We’re used to being able to talk, text, email, browse the Internet, and even have video conversations from our personal mobile devices. In fact, many of my colleagues are smartphone and tablet-only outside the office. With so much power, speed and connection in the palms of our hands, there’s no reason why business communication and collaboration can’t be just as mobile.
We’re moving from simply having mobile capabilities to seamless and integrated mobile communication and collaboration. As older voice and collaboration solutions come up for renewal or get retired, new solutions are offering all-in-one collaboration. They’re bringing everything together–voice calling, email, IM, presence, voicemail, and voice and video conferencing. Mobility is a key pillar of these solutions. New capabilities and younger workers’ preference for working on the go are changing how we collaborate. Customers are demanding these solutions, embracing them and reaping the benefits. Yet as mobile collaboration expands and evolves, providers will need to adapt too.
1. Bandwidth. Capabilities like video conferencing and screen sharing are data-intensive. AT&T’s wireless network alone has seen a traffic increase of 100,000 percent in the last 8 years due to video. Providers must prepare to accommodate more video traffic and real-time communication. The younger millennial workers who are most eagerly calling for expanded mobile collaboration also have little tolerance for slow speeds and dropped connections. Connectivity and quality of service will need to remain high and consistent.
Service providers will need to keep this increase in traffic in mind as they expand. Some providers are already testing one solution, 5G networks, already in some locations. At AT&T, we’re shifting toward software-defined networking (SDN).Today, we’re serving millions of customers through SDN. We see it as the basis for the data and video demands of tomorrow and the networks of the future.
2. Security. Those new and expanding networks will need to be highly secure. Sharing with colleagues and clients is becoming the default for today’s junior workers. Accommodating this sharing with high security will be critical for customers from large to small. Mobile apps are increasingly “promiscuous,”sharing data with other apps.
Additionally, businesses are increasingly under attack. Businesses suffered nearly 43 million security incidents in 2014, up 48 percent from the previous year, equaling about 117,000 attacks per day. We saw a 62 percent growth in DDoS attacks across our network just in the last 2 years. These numbers are only expected to rise.
Solutions need to be highly secure, but still integrated. More and more voice and collaboration data travels into and out-of the cloud and across wireless networks, the networks themselves will need to be highly secure and vigilant against attacks.
3. Integrated. Hardware, software, network providers and different “stacks” will need to work together. Whether communicating between departments, offices, or other companies, using a different solutions provider should not be a barrier to the act of collaborating.
Customers with existing investments in a stack of solutions shouldn’t need to overhaul their systems to work with another part of their company or a partner. And for users serving many external clients or stakeholders, it’s critical that their collaboration solutions be able to work with other solutions. This is why network providers are often in the best position to help customers embrace unified communication and collaboration. They’re set up to work with best-in-class voice and collaboration solutions and often have a close working relationship with leading vendors.
4. Global. International companies (and those working internationally) often see the clearest connection between voice and collaboration solutions and cost savings. They can help reduce costs for international calls using VoIP, reduce travel by embracing video conferencing and share documents and files from afar in near real-time. Today’s businesses have to be able to communicate across platforms and over geographical boundaries. Voice and collaboration solutions are key to staying connected.
Providers will need to offer hassle-free voice and collaboration solutions that connect employees around the globe efficiently. As these solutions mature, providers will need to work with stakeholders around the globe to further collaboration.
It’s an exciting time to be at the front of communication and collaboration. New and emerging solutions can transform how we work together, ultimately bringing our world closer. We’ll spend less time trying to get our ideas across to each other, and more time moving those ideas forward. Yes, providers and customers will need to adapt, but the long-term payoff will be well worth the short-term adjustments.