If you know a lot about technology, it can be hard to suspend your disbelief when watching television. How can you not shake your head when the reformed black hat who now works for the cops scans every state and federal database in seconds, or when a law firm's IT guy enhances gritty security camera footage until you can read the license plate on a car parked 100 feet away?
Yet despite the drama, there is some fact in all that fiction — especially when it comes to the UCaaS use cases in the shows.
Nearly every TV show today includes at least one character who is an expert in IT or communications technology. While they might take some liberties with their information-gathering technology, their unified communications technology is not so out of reach. Seamless team communication, the ability to move from one device to another, centralized data collection — all of that is very much possible today.
Here's a roundup of the TV casts who likely use UCaaS solutions and/or communications APIs.
CSI and Other Crime Dramas
If you watch one of the "CSI" shows, "NCIS," "Criminal Minds," or pretty much any other procedural crime drama, you'll notice they have a few things in common: mobile workers (i.e. detectives) who need to collaborate seamlessly with each other, the tech nerds back at the station, and officers from other organizations. They don't have time to stop and look up phone numbers while they're in the field. They need real-time, secure access to information and SMS alerts when that information comes in. And they need the ability to seamlessly switch from one device to another — from a group video call on a tablet to a "for your ears only" phone call, for example.
All of those "CSI" communication needs and challenges also happen to be UCaaS use cases. With a unified communications platform that has been integrated with CRM, officers could access contact information from any internet-connected device, whether they need to re-interview a witness, ask a judge for a warrant after hours, or talk to the IT guy about that surveillance camera footage he was able to magically enlarge.
Over the past five seasons, HBO's "Silicon Valley" has provided viewers with not only techie in-jokes and a satirical look at the tech capital of the world, but also a high-level overview of the evolution of cloud computing and telecommunications. It all started when computer programmer Richard Hendricks attempted to create an app that would allow musicians to check for copyright infringement. Instead, he accidentally created the world's most efficient compression algorithm. The next season, his algorithm had evolved into a cloud storage platform, then a video chat app, and most recently, a bitcoin-based "new internet."
Enterprise communications have been disrupted by similar trends — cloud migration, cloud integrations, the emergence of video as a preferred communication channel for individuals and businesses, even bitcoin-based computing. And as the fictional company in the show scaled up and down over the years, it would certainly need the benefits of UCaaS to connect workers, investors, and partners, and perhaps an omnichannel contact center to manage calls from customers who still don't understand bitcoin. A cloud-based platform would scale with the company, giving it the resources it needs at every step of expansion.
With its multiple timelines, HBO's "Westworld" spans nearly 35 years, according to Insider, with the park opening in 2018 and the robots making a break for it circa 2052. As such, both the robots and the communications technology vary throughout the show. By 2052, the communications technology is super slick — with foldable, booklike tablets and phones that transcribe voicemails while the caller is still talking — and the android technology is terrifyingly authentic.
None of this is as far-fetched as it might seem. Over the past year, a couple foldable mobile devices hit the market, voice transcription is already an application of UCaaS platforms, and real-time voicemail transcription is certainly here. And while engineers have yet to produce a robot that truly looks like a human, advanced voicebot and chatbot APIs sound and act human. Suddenly, 2052 doesn't seem so far away.
Person of Interest
"Person of Interest" has been off the air for a couple years, but its eerie legacy lingers. In this story of an unexpected vigilante crime-fighting team, former CIA agent Reese and billionaire computer programmer Finch work together to stop crimes before they can happen. The real hero, however, is the "Machine," an artificially intelligent supercomputer capable of monitoring every phone call, email, and surveillance camera in the world. Using this data, it can predict violent crimes; then it calls Finch (on pretty much any telephone anywhere) with the social security number of the future victim.
The technology does not yet exist to secretly collect this much data from so many sources — at least, we hope it doesn't. However, APIs now enable organizations to collect data from a multitude of sources, centralize all that data, and use AI algorithms to analyze the data for insights about the past, present, and future. Thanks to communications APIs, those insights can be automatically routed to the correct person — whether it's a phone call with the social security number of a future murder victim, an SMS to a plant manager when a manufacturer's machine is about to go down, or a Facebook message to a customer whose delivery will likely be delayed due to incoming bad weather.
Of course, television isn't the only place where you'll find excellent UCaaS use cases. Businesses of all shapes and sizes, across industries, have their own unique communications needs and challenges — and cloud communications technology can help to address them all.