This past weekend I visited a college my son is considering attending in the fall. We have been doing these visits over the past few months like any other parent in this situation. What struck me, as compared to when I went to college in the early ’80s, is the reliance on technology. Two examples of Unified Communications that jumped to mind:
1. Safety messages – in the aftermath of tragedies such as Virgina Tech’s, an increasing reliance on text messaging was prevalent in every college visit. As parents, it is pretty much mandatory that in addition to niceties such as a wireless campus or cable in the dorm room, it is absolutely critical that the college have these types of communication’s infrastructure in place. UC providers such as Cisco and Avaya are providing more and more of these capabilities, but we now also have firms such as SingleWire who are providing the software to integrate with these solutions to manage the messages more seemlessly. This appears, from a parent’s perspective, to have become a de facto standard of the campus UC solution.
2. Convenience messages – I love this one. At least one of the colleges we visited had networked the washing machines and dryers to display a web page with their status (in use, 5 minutes left, etc.) and text you when your clothes were “washed” or “dried”. This kills me. It is, though, a great example of UC being integrated into the overall business process. Exactly what we discussed in an earlier post on UC. And, to my wife and son, it was clearly a competitive advantage for the school that provided this capability as opposed to the other schools that did not.