Thursday, April 10, 2008

Interact08 Keynote

It's day 2 now at Interact08 and it's my first opportunity to post my thoughts on the keynote delivered yesterday by Gurdeep Sing Pall - Microsoft's Corporate Vice President, Unified Communications Group.

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Gurdeep talked about the acceleration in technology adoption rates, pointing out that it took 100 years from the time that the telephone was invented to get 1 billion people using it, but it has taken just 10 years or less to get the same number of people using technologies like email, instant messaging and mobile phones.

He then talked about Microsoft's view of what UC is and emphasised that identity and presence are at the core of Unified Communications. 

Gurdeep also used Maslow's Hierarchy of needs - which is a model used to describe a theory of human motivation. 

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In brief Maslow's theory states that unless a persons most basic needs are being taken care of they are not going to be in a position to give any thought to creative or abstract concepts.

He drew a parallel to IT Managers in that if an organisation's most basic needs are not in a good state they are not going to be in a position for proactive re-architecture.  If the phones don't have dial  tone they are not going to be in a position to communications enable business processes.

There followed a great demo of the real value of UC. what was great about it was that it was not run from Office Communicator or from Outlook. It was a demo of a Point of Sale application that had been "Communications enabled" and it was run from a Tablet PC.

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The demo scenario was a customer asking a staff member if they had a particular product. From their tablet pc the employee can check stock in other nearby stores.  He could then see who in the other store was online and available to take a call.

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The call was then initiated from within the PoS app using the tablet's speakers & microphone. On the receiving end the incoming call had a subject indicated that the call was a stock enquiry for a particular product and the app automatically displayed info that was contextually relevant - their stock level for that product. This means that at the time the call is answered the person already knows what it is about and has the information required to help at hand. A very compelling demo.