What is Unified Communications 2.0 and do we really need it?

One of the most exasperating things about covering the technology market from a journalistic point of view is the sector’s constant tendency to obfuscate. 

It makes simple things sound complicated. Mostly the way it does this is by using jargon. In such a world, almost everything becomes an acronym, or AEBAA.

And the more indecipherable it is, the better, it seems.

Then there’s the propensity to add a number to things, as though they were versions of an operating system or software. So, unified communications, which used to have (and probably still has) the acronym UC, now wants to be known as UC 2.0 apparently.

What happened to UC 1 — did it even exist? Certainly not many businesses were signing up to it, proportionately speaking considering how good the technology is, and the reasons are probably the same as mentioned in this article:

  1. Obfuscation — deliberately making things sound more complicated than they actually are, so businesses didn’t understand what they were being sold; and
  2. Inventing totally superfluous phrases and words that make things even more complicated to understand than they were in the first place, making businesses feel like they’ve missed out and why bother arriving late?

Obfuscation doesn’t literally mean making things sound complicated, but perhaps it’s appropriate to be using it in the (probably mistaken) perception that the lexicographers who develop the language of technology — if they exist — are deliberately putting people off.

Why would they do this? Security reasons — don’t let the criminals understand the business too easily? Commercial reasons — put up some good old fashioned barriers to entry?

Whatever the reason, writing about technology can be unnecessarily laborious. Technology is interesting. Computers are fascinating. Software can help accomplish amazing things.

But what does the baffling language of this kind of tech communicate? Weirdness, geekiness, and just “I just give up, I don’t want to understand” boredom.

It also communicates a sense of intellectual snobbery — like the way clever people talk down to people who they think are not as clever as them.

There remains the nagging thought that things would be much more interesting if they spent more time talking about the details of the technology in a straightforward way.

That would be challenging enough to understand, and if it’s really truly innovative technology, it would require the creation of entirely new words and terminology, which of course does happen from time to time.

And at the same time as obfuscating and creating useless and unhelpful labels, job titles in the tech industry lexicon show a total lack of imagination or effort, and some tendencies towards plagiarism.

The only new and original term seems to be software. So we have job titles like:

  • software architect;
  • software engineer; and
  • software designer.

Of those, designer doesn’t make sense, and stealing “engineer” from the industry where it belongs is a sign of wanting to take someone else’s hard-won reputation — in this case, built over many centuries — and claim it as your own.

And “architect” happens to be a legally protected title, like “doctor” and other very responsible job titles. A person would be breaking the law if he or she claimed to be an architect if he or she wasn’t actually a qualified architect.

This seems another example of wanting to steal someone else’s glory, another respectable profession’s kudos.

What was wrong with programmer? Coder is alright. Why create false layers of identity based on other professions’ achievements? Does software writer sound too simple or something? But then “writer” probably has an even longer history than engineer or architect.

Maybe there is a difference between the original unified communications and the new one, and maybe the new UC world does justify the 2.0 label.

But it’s also possible that UC 2.0 will go the way of Web 2.0 — and become interesting only because it’s a totally redundant phrase looking to fit in somewhere.

Both UC and the web were always meant for the same thing: communication. What would be more interesting is if more tech experts explained what the actual technical improvements are on an ongoing basis, in specific detail, rather than thinking up quite dull phrases to cover an impossibly large and complex technological landscape.

But to be fair, it’s probably journalists who don’t understand the technology who make up those phrases.

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