Let’s go on a journey down the proverbial rabbit hole to the not-so-distant future of telecommunications-- a future where network servers float in the clouds (I mean physical, made-from-water-vapor clouds) on hot air balloons, flying drone Internet access points whiz overhead in third-world countries, privately-owned satellites receive and transmit every “like” and “follow”, and a cackling Mark Zuckerberg is swimming in a vault of gold coins like a hoodie-loving Scrooge McDuck. This is the future that has been laid before us.
(Seriously. Google and Facebook actually have plans for these things in the works).
But let’s climb back out of the rabbit hole for a second and see how and why we get to these ends, and what it means for you.
The Internet of Everything
The point has been said so many times it’s almost lost all meaning, but I’ll say it again: the growth and expansion of communications technology is almost unfathomably exponential. And the growth in the number of users of this technology is just as astounding. All of this exponentially astounding growth is forcing everyone and everything to operate on and from the place where we tend to shove every rambling thought, ill-conceived photo and haphazard money-making scheme: the Internet. And the more you need the Internet, the more everyone else needs the Internet, and when people need more Internet, they have to make more Internet (make sense?); hence the Google/Facebook Air & Space Program mentioned above.
Not to be left out, the world of telecommunications is slowly but surely doing the same, with carriers phasing out landlines and unified communications looking like the hippest thing since The Charleston. Both of those realities mean the Internet, and VoIP and SIP technology specifically, will be the singularity from which a vast majority of communication -- business and residential -- emanates.
How to prepare
First, it’s important to remember the future we realize is usually some compromise of the one envisioned by dreaming architects and the limitations of practicality and reasonability. But while we may not know the specifics, we do know this is the path our society is walking/running down, and there are things businesses can do to ease the transition into this bold new world:
Social media & application integration. Not just for marketing and PR, Google, Facebook and other third parties are developing apps that will be critical for internal and external communication. Think baby steps!
Device integration. Cisco and other companies predict there will be 50 billion devices connected Internet by 2020, and you can bet those people will want to be able to use their devices at work. Work with your IT team to get necessary infrastructure in place to support truly personal devices.
Communication integration. Where can your business streamline communication processes? Are you using one platform for instant messaging, one for email, one for voice, and one for video? Consider consolidating communication by looking into a unified communications platform. The more varied your programs/software, the more difficult integration and upgrading become.
Stay informed. Just because you don’t need a certain technology now doesn’t mean you won’t need it in the future. Look ahead and draw informed conclusions about news and trends; do that and you’ll rarely find yourself or your business unprepared for change.
Do these four things (there are probably a few other steps you can take that would help as well), and you’ll find the future isn’t such a scary place after all. Plan right, and you may even find yourself with a leg up on your top competition!