Trends in enterprise communication and collaboration (part 2): Five hot infrastructure trends
Having entered a new decade 2020, it's the perfect time to think about what the future may provide. Working for Unify, Atos` division and brand for enterprise communication & collaboration, the theme of my first blog in 2020 is about trends in enterprise communication and collaboration. The first part is 5 User & Meeting Experience trends in Enterprise Communication & Collaboration. This second part of the blog addresses 5 infrastructure trends and how they may impact Enterprise Communication & Collaboration.
IoT platforms meet Communication platforms
The previously two separated worlds of communication platforms and data platforms will migrate. Millions and billions of IoT sensors/devices creating data, will not only talk to their Data Cloud Platform (or to Edge Data servers). In addition, filtered and aggregated IoT data will be sent as notifications to humans /teams via their integrated collaboration platform. Think about use cases such as anomalies detected in industrial IoT machine production, in IoT healthcare area or in any other vertical segment. Adding chat and speech bots into the IoT end-to-end solution, people will be able to interact with the things, for example, to adjust their settings.
In terms of interfaces and standards for IoT communication, there are quite a number of standardization bodies and vendor consortia available. Although probably not 100% up to date, my blog from 2018 gives you still a good overview. The target for a more standards-based, end-to-end IoT multi-vendor interoperable world will continue. The market will sort out which IoT standards and vendor consortia will make the race.
You will not need 5G for your voice telephony call (LTE/4G and 3G will do it). For an enterprise on-prem communication & collaboration system, you initially may think about adding 5G as a fixed mobile trunk (backup) option to your wired WAN interface. As soon as you are adding real-time critical data analytics, machine learning or augmented reality capabilities to your mobile applications, a large mobile bandwidth pipe and/or low latency will be very valuable.
Telco providers have started 5G roll out in some urban areas and it will take them years for reasonably 5G coverage also in rural areas. For quite some years we will see a co-existence of 4G/LTE and 5G. Driver for 5G will be the millions and billions of upcoming IoT devices of any kind (e.g. machines, autonomous vehicles, smart city infrastructure), for which 5G is one hot technology option. Private 5G will allow large enterprises to operate their own 5G network. Some big players, e.g. in manufacturing or in automotive will run their own 5G infrastructure. While telco providers are rolling out 5G, the research institutions have started research on 6G, which we, however, will not see before 2030/35. So, enough time to concentrate on 5G meanwhile.
Multi-cloud & service consumption
The trend of hosting communication & collaboration platforms in the public or private cloud continues, while on-prem platform hosting will decline (although still have its market). Continuous delivery and thus continuous feature enhancements for the customers is a main advantage of cloud.
Capabilities such as transcribing, translation or natural language processing (NLP) are introduced into applications such as conferencing, recording or virtual assistants. Today such capabilities (services) are typically being consumed from one of the big cloud service providers, Google, Microsoft or Amazon, who are advanced in that area. I predict an increasing demand from customers for consuming such services from their preferred cloud provider or in some cases via local speech recognition engines and local ML frameworks (such as TensorFlow or Rasa). Thus, enterprise communication & collaboration platforms will have to support a flexible architecture for dynamically connecting to the appropriate service providers. Customer criteria for their provider preference will include quality, cost, and trust.
Edge Computing & de-centralization
The trend of more de-centralization of distinct compute extensive and bandwidth extensive functions which we see in the cloud data world, also applies to the cloud communication & collaboration space. For example, large cloud conferencing solutions will start offering means to reduce cloud computing capacity and WAN bandwidth needs. Decentralized (cascaded) media servers for conferencing at the edge will be one approach. Video streaming techniques for large conference events will be using payload protocols other than RTP (real-time protocol), requiring far less bandwidth, such as Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). Towards the end of the decade, we may see first in-network computing approaches such as ICN (Information Centric Networking), with the network itself becoming smarter by caching contents, for (later) retrieval by other users.
Cybersecurity and Trust
Customers' trust is not only accomplished by a few product security features being implemented, such as TLS v1.3 or multi-factor authentication. Security and trust are very much an operational excellence matter. Security hardening and appropriate product security configurations upon deployment are key. To be clear, there is and will not be a 100% secure system, and this will not change in the new decade. However, what is needed is a best in class security process and an always-evolving security monitoring system. By means of machine learning techniques implemented in security monitoring systems, we will detect issues and self-heal or even detect anomalies and automatically trigger counter actions to avoid incidents before they even happen.
The above 5 topics in Infrastructure trends impacting enterprise communication & collaboration will not be implemented as a single shot but will be a journey. An enterprise communication & collaboration platform vendor or an operator will need to watch out carefully for new technology advances and will need to continuously prioritize and adopt. It will be about how to cope with the always increasing amount of data generated and the always increasing demand for connectivity among everything. It will be about which technologies, standards, and architectures can best address the client`s and market`s demands for serving their use cases and requirements in the next decade.
This blog provides the second part of a 2-blog series. Watch out for the first part, which talks about 5 hot topics in the area of user & conferencing experiences in enterprise communication & collaboration.