Post by Joe Burton, Chief Technology Officer, Unified CommunicationsAt Networkers at Cisco Live!, we met with customers and partners to talk about challenges and opportunities they face while developing a future-proof unified communications strategy. For many of them, a network-centric approach to UC not only meets their immediate need for reliable business communications, but it also lays the foundation to meet future communications needs of an increasingly mobile, collaborative, virtual and socially-networked workforce. Compare this to those who are deploying a PC- (and email) centric strategy that creates a workforce of”haves” and”have-nots” due to inherent device and operating system constraints.The rapidly declining importance of email and the desktop computer is not one that I would have foreseen even as few as five years ago. There was a wonderful recent article in CNET,”Kids say e-mail is, like, soooo dead,” that talked about the irrelevance of email for these customers and employees of tomorrow. For those of us with more mileage on our tires, the introduction of mobile-mail devices into the workspace has accelerated this trend into reality. When was the last time you re-opened an email or email attachment on your laptop’s email client after you had already skimmed through it on your mobile device? It has probably been awhile. Think about the length of the last email message you sent from your BlackBerry or smart phone? Most likely it contained fewer than a dozen words. And think of the volume of email you receive on a daily basis? How many are short replies that beget more short replies. Increasingly as we rely on portable devices and smart phones we are actually leveraging the email directory and transport infrastructure to send SMS-style messages.Many IT organizations have lived through the”standardization era” of the 90s, when desktops, operating systems and business applications were standardized around monolithic clients. These enterprises are now beginning to embrace Service Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) to better manage the transition from this world to a Web 2.0 world where content is disaggregated, yet networked and presented through a range of thin-client interfaces. Think about your own workspace today, and the one you had a few years ago. What’s different? Is it more standardized with your peers, or less? Do you have more Windows devices or fewer in your workspace? How do you use email? More importantly, how do you utilize email now, versus how you used it five to ten years ago? My guess is that it’s very different.