For telecom veterans who were active in the communications space in the nineties you remember the excitement the industry enjoyed when Microsoft and Novell entered the telecom markets with TAPI and TSAPI protocols to interconnect communications systems with computers. The CTI or computer telephony integration space was born when the OS companies realized that by enabling telecom systems to be more tightly integrated with computing, they could in effect start to generate revenue by having new telecom systems built on their open platforms. Prior to this time, any sort of integration cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but CTI solutions based on desktop computers could be built for $10,000 to $15,000.
I couldn't help but think about this market as I read an article on connected buildings from Erin Harrison which resides on the Smart Data Center community. Erin details how middleware is needed to effectively connect different building components together - with the ultimate goal being to increase operating efficiency.
This is exactly what a company like Genesys Labs did for the call center market aver a decade ago...They developed technology which interconnected a plethora of computing and communications platforms and in the process allowed seamless screen pops and database dips when a call came in.
The I in CTI stands for integration and over the last 15 years I have watched the communications industry explode with growth and change as a result of the telecom market opening up. Just one offshoot of the space was VoIP and we have witnessed how IP communications has shaken the market to its very foundation. As a result of this change, many people got rich and others went broke. Witnessing how smart grids, smart buildings and smart devices are coming together reminds me exactly of the communications market of a decade ago. What sorts of new integrations will we see going forward and what new opportunities will there be to explore. Just as important is - who will lose their shirts this time around?
At the risk of sounding a bit redundant, this is exactly why I am counting the days until next week's ITEXPO and the collocated Smart Grid Summit in Miami, where these exact issues will be explored in-depth. If you think the tech markets have been exciting in the last 10 years, just wait till they engulf the energy market and telecom, computing, social networking, entertainment and gaming begin to integrate with electricity and wireless systems. People will get very rich if they figure out early where things are headed.
See Also: Smart Grid Summit Preview (Part 2)