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ORLANDO — IBM foresees the demise of e-mail, phones and desktops as unified communications makes it possible to replace them with laptops and other mobile devices.

In his keynote address at VoiceCon Orlando 2008 today, IBM Lotus general manager Mike Rhodin put forward that prediction and four others about how unified communications will change the way businesses interact.

Instant messaging will step up as the preferred means of written communication around which other communications modes – voice, video, conferencing – will revolve, he predicts.

Laptops with voice and video embedded will become all that workers need to support their business needs, he says, but the transition will be gradual, he says.

“It’s not a rip and replace world,” Rhodin said in an interview, “you need to leverage what you’ve got already. Starting over is not appealing.”

Among his other predictions were that companies will integrate VoIP in business applications and draw on presence to speed business transactions and internal processes. Basic features such as click to call will become tools rather than ends in themselves, he says.

Interoperability and standards that make interoperability easier will develop to make it possible for businesses to piece together their applications with unified communications platforms to make them easier to mold to specific business needs, he says. “This will result in interesting new applications,” he says.

Presence information and even physical location supplied by unified communications platforms can become programming elements in business applications so they can find the person with the right skills who is closest to a customer to solve a problem. So, for example, a plumbing call center application could find the plumber closest to a customer whose water supply is flooding the basement.

You can view the complete article on Network World’s website.

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