Collaboration Trends for 2017: What Enterprises Should be Looking for

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• In 2017, enterprises should expect more integration between UC platforms and applications and services such as CRM, Salesforce, and workflow tools.

• Enterprises should begin to talk to ICT providers about their plans to deliver RCS-enabled collaboration services.

In many ways, 2016 has been a quiet year for unified communications and collaboration services. Although Broadsoft has made good progress in becoming the most popular vendor in the SME sector, Microsoft and Cisco remain the dominant market forces. Mitel deserves an honourable mention and remains a keen competitor, whilst Avaya’s struggle to make progress in the hosted UCC space, despite its contact centre strengths, has contributed significantly to its present challenging situation. Google enjoyed a positive 2016. Its market penetration remains modest, but publicised case studies of Google-based collaboration solutions are becoming more common, particularly in the public sector in geographies such as the UK. The newly branded G-Suite offers a genuine alternative to Microsoft Office 365. Although Google’s proposition must still sit alongside a hosted voice and UC solution from another vendor, its collaboration features make it an option that should be considered by all enterprises. Read more of this post

Establishing a Zero Outage Standard is About Technology, People and Processes

C. Drake

C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

• A new initiative, spearheaded by 11 major IT companies, aims to establish industry-wide standards that enable zero outage and the continuous operation of IT systems.

• To succeed this initiative must include the wider industry, and should address the interaction between technology, people and processes as a source of IT systems failure.

On November 4th, a group of 11 major IT firms announced the formation of the “Zero Outage Industry Standard” association. Established in London by founding members Brocade (now being acquired by Broadcom), Cisco, Dell EMC, Fortinet, Hitachi Data Systems, HPE, Jupiter Networks, NetApp, SAP, SUSE and T-Systems, the association aims to kick-start discussions that it hopes will lead to new industry-wide standards that enable the continuous operation of IT systems. Read more of this post

Platform, Person, Place: The Recipe for Productivity

T. Banting

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• Organizations should understand how employees work, what they need to do their job effectively, and where they need to work to ascertain what they need to be more productive.

• Organizations should only consider new collaboration and communications applications with the endorsement of their employees.

Many workplaces face daunting challenges today, including employee engagement, time management, and overwhelming workloads. And unfortunately, many vendors sell collaboration and communications technology as a panacea and not the business tool it really is. Communications and collaboration today is a combination of synchronous (i.e., communicating at the same time), and asynchronous tools; however, forcing people to use a tool that does not fit their personal preference inhibits their productivity. Some companies still try to force employees to adhere to standard platforms (e.g., email, unified communications, corporate intranet, etc.); however, consumer technology has made a strong presence in our everyday lives and subsequently, has made its way into businesses too – not only in terms of hardware preferences (e.g., smartphones and tablets), but also services. In an attempt to make themselves more productive employees are circumventing IT and embracing non-sanctioned applications (e.g. Skype, Facetime, HipChat, Slack, etc.), a phenomenon known as ‘shadow IT’. Read more of this post

Cisco Live! 2016: Partners, Bots and Spark, Oh My! – Cisco’s Yellow Brick Road to Magical Experiences

T. Banting

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Cisco is partnering with IBM (enhancing e-mail social networking, collaborative team spaces, cognitive computing and analytics) to compete more effectively against competitors such as Microsoft.
  • Cisco’s partnership with Apple will bring native dialing through iOS release 10 and integrate the iPhone within the Cisco infrastructure, thus improving business communications.

In L. Frank Baum’s first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy follows the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City, where everyone wears green-tinted eyeglasses to protect their eyes from the “brightness and glory” of the city. What it actually does is make everything appear green when the Emerald City is, in fact, “no more green than any other city.” At Cisco Live! 2016 in Las Vegas, Cisco’s vision for the future appears crystal clear and in little need of eyewear. Read more of this post

Accessing the Digital Economy: It’s About Bandwidth and Applications

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • The economy is moving online and failure to respond is likely to lose enterprises business.
  • SMEs are likely to be the least well prepared to take advantage of the digital economy, but the transition can be relatively straightforward.

Much attention has been given in the UK over the last six months to the provisioning (or lack thereof) of broadband services.  Much of the criticism that has been levelled at Openreach, and by association BT, has related to concerns about the perceived lack of progress in rolling out superfast and ultrafast broadband services.  The UK government has now also dropped its commitment to the provision of universal broadband access.  This in itself is something that businesses, especially those in rural areas, should seek to have their say on. Read more of this post

2016 Collaboration and Communications Forecast: Cloudy with Outbreaks of Hybrid?

T. Banting

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Many enterprises are so hampered by traditional, inflexible IT models that they’re eager to jump into the cloud and start reaping the benefits.
  • Some customers still have security and privacy concerns, and will continue to err on the side of caution by favoring private cloud or on-premises deployments.

Having attended two large industry events this month, it is clear that public cloud services are top of mind for many customers and a trending topic for 2016. Indeed, both Enterprise Connect and Jive World abounded with customers adopting public cloud collaboration and communication services. Cloud adoption in 2016 seems more tangible compared to the hype of last year and the momentum is staggering. While customers believe the cloud offers lower total cost of ownership, productivity improvements and increased flexibility, I also discovered two other themes worth mentioning. Read more of this post

Jive Software: Repackaging, Repricing, and Imminent Resurgence?

T. Banting

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Jive Software recognizes the collaboration market is particularly dynamic and has taken steps to realign and capitalize on that change; consequently, the vendor’s new packaged solutions address specific line-of-business issues and key verticals.
  • Demonstrating tangible business value to specific departments and verticals markets is expected to result in an easier sales cycle (and subsequent broader adoption) compared to the wholesale enterprise implementation of social collaboration platforms.

Last week during Jive Software’s FY 2015 Business Update, the vendor announced its end-of-year results and that it will focus on simplifying its packaging and promotion through 2016. While Jive’s full-year 2015 earnings showed improvement (10% year-on-year revenue growth of $195.8 million), the company anticipates a return to profitability by Q4 2016; indeed, the Business Update call highlighted to me that Jive Software recognizes the collaboration market is particularly dynamic and the company has taken steps to realign and capitalize on that change. While it has been common practice for organizations to start their adoption of social collaboration platforms with simple features and small intranet group deployments, Jive’s new packages address specific line-of-business issues and key verticals: namely, Jive for Healthcare Collaboration (capitalizing on the success the vendor has had with deployments at Trinity Health and MD Anderson to support care coordination and enhance clinical productivity), Jive for Employee Engagement (an internally focused solution based on Jive-n for HR departments), and Jive for Customer Engagement. Read more of this post

Microsoft’s UC Commander Acquisition Boosts Skype for Business and Increases the Squeeze on Service Providers

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• Microsoft’s acquisition of Event Zero’s ‘UC Commander’ analytics platform strengthens its UC solutions.

• The decision of who to work with for UC solutions is not easy and there are many good options – but integration is key and end users should consider who is best placed to work with their telecoms and IT estate.

Microsoft recently announced the acquisition of the ‘technology assets’ underlying Event Zero’s ‘UC Commander’ product suite. The UC Commander suite provides a series of management and analytics tools specifically for Microsoft Skype for Business (Skype). Presently, Skype users can already use the Office 365 administration centre to assign phone numbers, view usage reporting for audio and video calls/conferences, and to monitor call quality. The new acquisition will add further diagnostic and troubleshooting tools within a single new portal. Microsoft also envisages that its SP partners will be able to more easily connect on-premise Skype deployments with Office 365 and hybrid environments in general. Read more of this post

Jive’s WorkHub: Why a Social Collaboration Platform Is Different from an App

T. Banting

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Jive’s WorkHub branding aligns well with the vendor’s strategy to allow businesses to connect, communicate and collaborate based on their unique needs and personal workstyle.
  • There needs to be a distinction drawn in the market between the pervasive and integrative nature of social collaboration platforms and lightweight enterprise team applications such as Slack.

Recently, Jive announced its WorkHub branding alongside new packaged solutions (Jive for Healthcare Collaboration, Jive for Employee Engagement and Jive for Customer Engagement) designed for vertical markets and use cases. Jive Software was, I believe, one of the first vendors to introduce us to the concept of hubs and the social intranet being central to collaboration within an organization. A successful social collaboration platform supports all areas of the business and all employees; however, Jive Software’s focus on new line-of-business segments (e.g., HR and marketing) is likely to cut through some of the broader and more historical concerns associated with adoption (e.g., behavioral change, cultural fit and changes to working practices) and clearly aims to provide specific solutions to broken business processes. Consequently, this is likely to accelerate Jive’s marketplace momentum and (once an initial use-case is secured) establish a beachhead for wider employee adoption. Read more of this post

Why Is IBM So Averse to Screaming About Verse and Other Innovations?

T. Banting

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • IBM has changed itself around from a product-focused company to one which is more asset-led through the application of its ‘design thinking’ approach.
  • However, IBM must ensure its differentiation gets heard above established and emerging competitors in the collaboration and communications marketplace.

Last week’s IBM Connect 2016 (IBM’s annual collaboration conference) was somewhat of a revelation for me. What stood out for me was how IBM has changed itself from a company that was more product-focused to one which is more asset-led. Asset-led companies tend to make decisions based on the needs of the user and the assets of the solution. The perfect situation is, of course, for a business to relate customer needs to the business’s own strengths. This, then, is where IBM’s design thinking approach to solution development is key to success. Read more of this post