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The Future is Now -- How Science Fiction Predicted Business Communications

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At what point can we say we are living in the future dreamed of in science fiction? Though 2001 may not have been a space odyssey imagined in the older book and film, the years since have seen growth in communication and technology that fiction only dreamed of, and ShoreTel is proud to be a part of it. We’ve helped make workplace communications easier, more efficient and accessible from virtually anywhere, which, as it turns out, is just what today’s workforce needs to bring us to tomorrow.

The flip communicators of the original Star Trek show are now a reality. Today’s worker can do their job from an office, home, car (as they’re not driving) or anywhere else they have a cellular or WiFi connection. There are more than one billion mobile workers, and ShoreTel’s Enterprise Mobility and Unified Communications (UC) solutions provide the tools they need to do so from their favorite device on a single interface.

Cloud technology allows businesses and their employees to access tools, information and files remotely. Imagine in the classic film Star Wars, A New Hope, if the Rebel Alliance could download plans to the Death Star directly from the Cloud – Star Wars would have been quite different, and the planet Alderaan might not have been destroyed. Of course, security is vital to the cloud, and ShoreTel offers a secure private cloud. Companies can add UC, presence and other important features as they need directly through the cloud, while keeping their data safe.

However, while the cloud is incredibly useful, there’s still much to be said for on-premises systems. Rather than choose one or the other, though, companies can gain the best of both worlds with a hybrid solution. The hybrid cloud solution from ShoreTel combines the control and availability of on-premises phone systems with the flexibility and convenience of cloud-based applications. And as cloud technology grows, so will the possible combinations of cloud and on-site solutions, meeting the ever-changing needs of businesses and their employees in ways never before imagined.

On a related note, the widespread growth of the cloud has made “bring your own device” (BYOD) a more compelling and feasible option for workers everywhere. Being able to access one’s workspace and tools from their device of choice is great for employee productivity and morale. People love their private tablets and smartphones since they are familiar and available. That means that an employee who can use his or her personal device for work can always access the information and tools they need, while remaining accessible at all times themselves

Even our devices have grown remarkably “sci-fi” in recent years, even surpassing fiction’s predictions. Star Trek featured hand-held touchscreen computers called PADDs, but we probably know them better today as tablets. Today’s tablets can be used as mobile workstations, thanks to the aforementioned cloud, BYOD policies, and mobility solutions, like that from ShoreTel. The crew of the Enterprise had communicators; we have Bluetooth headsets that make Uhura’s earpiece look ridiculous and clunky.

Nearly every work of science fiction has some form of long-distance video communication, from videos appearing on a spaceship’s screen to droids with hologram projectors, and modern telecommunication and telepresence have managed to match them. We have audio and video conferencing and calls from computers, dedicated rooms, or personal devices, all of which were once just ideas in a script.

The future of workplace communications is now, and yet there is still no end in sight. We can now communicate and collaborate faster, more efficiently, and from more locations than ever before, and businesses embracing the technology have benefitted from it. No longer do we have to look at fiction to imagine what will be invented decades from now – we’re in the lead, and science fiction needs to catch up.