Mike Pilbeam - European technical director of IT giant Cisco - gave visitors to a forum for Cisco Systems' UK academies a fascinating glimpse of the fast approaching "tomorrow's world" of business communications
The day-long event was held at UCE Birmingham's Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) - Cisco's lead academy for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Mr Pilbeam's team anticipates the global direction and speed of the e-communications market served by Cisco Systems network products.
He examined the period between the advent of internet-based (IP) communications, around 1995, and the probable business communications scene in 2010.
Widespread use of IP communications has had a revolutionary effect on the way businesses share information.
However, the current shift to server-based software is enabling networks to converge - giving birth to the intelligent information network, or IIN.
IIN offers the triple advantages of cost reduction through integrated data traffic, network simplification through integrated services, and widened capabilities through integrated communications.
Mr Pilbeam said: "The current business challenge is the need to deal with multiple channels of communication - mobiles, landlines, PCs, PDAs, not to mention paper!"
IIN offers a rationalised communications environment giving the user control over information and where and when they receive it.
Re-definition of voice applications has already led to simple video telephony through secure, converged networks. The implications for time management and containment of travel offer efficiency gains for both individuals and business. Mr Pilbeam described the emerging IIN world as "eliminating inefficient human middleware."
He added: "Employees need to add, not reduce, value. Convoluted communications are vulnerable to human error. Integrated communications help eliminate unnecessary interventions."
He outlined emerging technologies which will enable the next generation of IP communications.
They encompass easy personal access to communications and information, regardless of location, together with integrated voice, video and data services. These can then be supplied via any medium through which the individual chooses to receive them.
Mr Pilbeam concluded that the new world of personalised communications would be available with total security, starting with entering a PIN and progressing to biometric signatures, to activate a mobile handset - making it useless to others.
Wide-ranging user benefits include total mobility and the ability to collaborate easily with colleagues, customers and suppliers, regardless of global location. It will also enable all messaging and telephony through the one device.
Cisco Systems chief executive, John Chambers recently forecast that online video could lead internet traffic to grow by 500 per cent per year. At the same time UK-based companies are trialling the next generation Wi-Max technology.
UK entrepreneurs could be the first to use it as early as 2007, and Wi-Fi on-the-move would become a reality. With such major steps Cisco claims its network systems will offer the means by which a simpler yet secure world of communications is realised.
* For details of Cisco academies call 0121 331 6400, or by e-mail email@example.com.