Foreword: Mobile Internet is sweeping the globe. Innovative Internet technologies are emerging one after another and changing people’s lifestyles. Enterprises cannot afford to ignore the impacts that the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has on IT applications. Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) has become a venue for making life easier, improving work efficiency, and enriching entertainment choices, rather than just serving as a tool that facilitates communications. UC&C needs to enrich life through communications.
Mary Meeker, famously dubbed Queen of the Net, released the 2012 Internet Trends report at the AllThingsD conference in late May 2012. This landmark report statistically shows how the Internet and the mobile Internet have evolved. The report also makes it clear that mobile Internet, smart devices, and applications powered by innovative technologies are changing people’s lifestyles. Internet technology is able to realize people’s dreams anytime, anywhere, using any device in any way. Let’s take a look at how all this came about.
Miracles of the Internet are on-going, and mobility is a new gene for Internet growth.
The number of global Internet users grew by 8% in 2011 to reach 2.3 billion. A large portion of this increase is attributed to the growth engines of emerging markets. In addition, 3G subscribers worldwide increased by 37% from a year earlier to 1.1 billion; most of the new subscribers were from developed countries. The data traffic of global mobile networks soared, accounting for 10% of Internet data traffic. Some have likened these growth patterns to a picture in which a speedboat raises big waves and long eddies. Figuratively speaking, the waves are the long term evolution (LTE) networks and 3G mobile Internet that are going a full throttle on the back of new technologies and various capabilities. The eddies are the pervasive effects of the Internet that will roll onward as the technology’s potentials are realized.
With the Internet becoming more mobile, people prefer easy-to-use devices such as smartphones and tablets for tasks that were previously done through personal computers. This pattern carries over to people’s working styles. The term bring-your-own-device (BYOD) was coined by industry analysts and has been understood by IT software developers. In the future, IT software must support new types of equipment and platforms and leverage the new features of these platforms to deploy enterprise applications. BYOD is a trend that is continuing to pick up steam.
Internet technologies are changing people’s lifestyles.
A series of momentous events have transpired during the brief history of the Internet. Mobile phone subscribers outnumbered fixed-line phone subscribers in 2002, 125 years after the appearance of the first fixed-line phone. Encyclopedia Britannica was not published in print in 2012, 244 years after the first edition. Revenue from online advertisements exceeded that from newspaper advertisements in 2010, 305 years after the first newspaper advertisement.
We need look no further than these facts to see that the Internet and associated technologies have changed the traditional ways in which people think and live. As we see how these technologies change everything, we must figure out how we can embrace the changes and work with the genes that drive the progress of civilization.
We see it. Digital media technologies allow users to record memorable moments in videos, photos, and multimedia journal applications stored in handy mobile devices. The mobile Internet spreads these precious memories on social networking websites, where family members and friends separated by short and long distances alike share their experiences as they happen.
We sense it. Ubiquitous communications and information services quicken the pace of life while keeping everything in order. Location information sensed by global positioning systems (GPSs) is transmitted to our mobile devices and translated into surrounding information that is of interest to us. With multidimensional recommendation applications and navigation systems, we can decide what to do next, change our decisions on the spur of the moment, or acquire information in greater detail, rather than acting without complete information. In a nutshell, information availability and timeliness have reshaped the traditional ways in which people think.
We experience it. Entertainment patterns have undergone the most radical changes. Three-year-old children play games on smartphones and tablets. Elderly people make video calls via their smartphones and tablets to see their children in faraway places. With the help of true-to-life video technologies, young people sing and play with distant friends. Instead of hiding backstage, designers using interactive systems become the most popular people with whom customers would like to talk. Guided by customers, designers can produce innovative works reflecting what customers feel and like.
We accomplish it. Productivity is higher. People outside of their offices use their phones to make video calls, join conferences, and have interactive discussions as easily as people in offices do. White-collar workers have abandoned their papers and pens for PCs and smart recording applications. Managers no longer view their companies as plants located in isolated areas, but jumping-off points for global operations, virtual operating teams, cross-geographic collaboration between functional departments, and cooperation along the industry chain. Equipped with Internet access, mobile devices, and UC&C technologies, managers finish tasks with greater ease, wherever and whenever required.
We are on track to realize our vision of enriching life through communication. We are working hard to develop Internet technologies while appreciating the benefits that such technologies deliver. The meaning of “communication” is not as narrow as it used to be. Communications utilities are all around us and are subtly influencing each of our conversations, actions, and collaborations.
Five innovative UC&C applications that put ideas into practice
The 2012 Internet Trends report explains several creative ideas brewing in Silicon Valley. These inspiring ideas may be applied to UC&C products and solutions in the near future.
Innovation 1: Telepresence technologies will not only deliver realistic experiences but also provide smarter functions. Facial expression and voice analysis applications will be added to telepresence meeting systems so that presenters can instantly tell the feelings of attendees through their facial expressions. For example, a presenter can see whether attendees are satisfied or whether they like and understand what the presenter is saying. Using these technologies will enable presenters to hold efficient business meetings and save the trouble of asking tentative questions.
Innovation 2: By leveraging non-contact and space-recognition technologies used in game control systems, telepresence systems will become more immersive, interactive, and collaborative. For example, engineering specialists and business managers can demonstrate product features to customers in faraway locations by using the immersive collaboration functions of telepresence systems. Engineering specialists can interact with customers through non-contact and three-dimensional display functions that give customers a thorough experience of all the technical features of products.
Innovation 3: Collaborations on content creation will transform the ways in which industrial designers, art designers, and writers work. Materials, geography, and language differences will no longer suppress inspiration. Designers who work in different locations and speak different languages can complete designs with others on a virtual creation desk in real time. Integrated with audio, video, and content collaboration functions, the virtual creation desk can cater to different creative scenarios and present brand new experiences for industrial and art designers.
Innovation 4: Content collaboration applications draw consumers and designers together. Through interactive design interfaces, consumers can communicate with designers in other locations to customize clothing and home decorations. Interactive design desktops integrate social network functions (e.g. video, audio, and data functions) and offer the convenience of accepting online payments, creating new consumption models.
Innovation 5: Unified communications tools in web pages will become one of the key technological components of e-commerce platforms. On e-commerce websites with built-in unified communications suites, consumers can interact with business people through audio, video, and instant messaging services. In addition, users can directly request video calls via web browsers installed on their smartphones and tablets, eliminating the need to install unified communications clients to make calls.
As the Internet and associated technologies continue to change everything, we will persistently pursue a better future. We will always be committed to realizing our vision of helping people live, work, and entertain more easily, efficiently, and happily.
By Zhu Jia, senior research expert on market insights from Huawei’s Enterprise BG