As 2016 Beckons, What Should Telecoms Buyers Look for from UC Solutions?

G. Barton

G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

• Enterprises should look at vendor platforms beyond Microsoft and Cisco and demand interoperability between platforms and applications.

• Unified communications (UC) and mobility are now intrinsically linked.

2015 has been the year that UC solutions have really started to achieve market traction. Take-up is far from universal, but for most UC features CA’s own research suggests that usage amongst enterprises is above 50%. The uptick in usage is down to a number of factors–for example, falling prices and the maturity of the technology–however, it is the improvement of the business case for UC that seems to have had the biggest impact. Vodafone, for example, has reported a strong response from customers following the development of new proof of concept demonstrations and a new approach to training and educating its workforce. So the initial message for enterprise users is that a conversation with your provider concerning unified communications is likely to be more centred on achieving better business outcomes, and therefore a more worthwhile experience. Read more of this post

Unify’s Free UC Offer Is Good and True, but It May Be Better to Pay

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Unify’s free service offers a valuable taster of UC, but there are other ‘try before you buy’ options.
  • Buyers and providers should both be aware that limitations on a service (e.g., limited integration) may hide the real value of a UC solution.

Unify (newly acquired by Atos) has moved to gain market attention and traction with the offer of free UC services. The free service is limited to only 100 users and provides only 1 gigabyte of storage (for further details, see: Unify Stakes Claim to SME Market, but Might Find Only Fool’s Gold, November 20, 2015). Although it is not without risks, this is a smart move by Unify. It offers a very competitive UC solution via its Circuit platform. However, overshadowed by Cisco and Microsoft and facing the growing popularity of rivals such as BroadSoft and Google Apps, Unify has a significant challenge to gain market attention and traction. Read more of this post

Application Integration Is Key to Delivering Effective Collaboration

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Integration with a range of business applications and the ability for solutions to work outside the organisation are key features for valuable UCC solutions.
  • Enterprises should tell vendors what they want from systems integration offers.

This week, BroadSoft announced its plans for its new Project Tempo initiative to deliver integrated unified communications and collaboration (UCC) services based on the vendor’s UC-One platform. The initiative will begin in January 2016 with beta trials of ‘UC-One Hub,’ a cloud service designed to integrate real-time communication services (e.g., IP voice, IM and e-mail) with third-party hosted/cloud-based applications. BroadSoft states that UC-One Hub will also provide ‘contextual intelligence’ for users. Read more of this post

Why Should Enterprises Pay for UC?

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises should look beyond quality of service factors to the broader working practices guidance available with the new generations of unified communications and collaboration services.
  • New features such as WebRTC can only successfully be delivered as part of an advanced UC suite, but will deliver a genuine competitive advantage.

When enterprises can use Skype as an internal messaging and conference service for free, is it any surprise that they question why they should pay for Microsoft Lync or Cisco HCS-based services?Apps such as ‘What’s App’ essentially offer unified messaging, whilst almost every tablet now comes with some kind of video chat software. What’s more, consumer apps are developed and released much more quickly than business grade apps. When being cutting edge matters, why not go with the most agile source of new technology? The quality of service argument still holds strong and enterprises should bear in mind that most UC solutions are provided with a 99.9% availability guarantee as a standard. The advent of HD voice is another factor that enterprises should consider. HD voice offers a genuinely enhanced end user experience and is often not available on consumer grade solutions – especially if they are free.   Read more of this post

UC’s Advent is Welcome, But Should Not Distract Enterprises from Their Core Fixed Services

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises should be excited about the potential benefits of UC – including BYOD and mobile device management (MDM).
  • Enterprises should also remember that traditional IP telephony and networking services remain business critical.

I wrote in my last blog that unified communications (UC) services are now finally achieving critical mass, and that widespread adoption is expected in 2014. In response to this positive surge, the marketing teams at every major ICT provider will be in over drive to proclaim the most unified, most mobility-driven, and cloud-based proposition. And, as I write on Christmas Eve, there are reasons for enterprises to celebrate this advent. BYOD, as I have previously written, is both a security concern and a potential efficiency driver if handled correctly. MDM packaged with single number dialling and unified email and messaging and (probably) presence functionality is something that enterprises should now be looking to roll out to all mobile workers. MDM on its own should be applied to every worker within an organisation, and cloud/network-hosted delivery is the only way for most enterprises to achieve this.       Read more of this post

UC Take-up Is on the Verge of Critical Mass, but Pricing Models Remain Negotiable

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Uptake of unified communications solutions is growing, and enterprises that are not alert to this trend may be at a disadvantage.
  • Utility pricing looks great on the surface, but enterprises should work with providers to achieve pricing models that deliver genuine value for money.

Research released jointly by Cisco, SFR and Telindus to coincide with SFR’s recent launch of its hosted Cisco HCS proposition has suggested that 39% of French large enterprises are currently involved in ITC projects that involve the deployment of hosted unified communications (UC) services for their employees, whilst 15% of French large enterprises already have deployed a hosted UC solution of some sort.  Research also shows that the numbers are similar or slightly lower in other Northern European countries. Read more of this post

Corporate BYOD Policies Brings Security and Productivity

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Ignoring the impact of smartphones in the workplace is no longer an option.
  • A well constructed BYOD policy will deliver security and productivity benefits.

BT has this week gone to market with its latest bring your own device (BYOD) proposition, its BT Advise BYOD Quick Start suite, which includes monitoring and security services. BT’s launch has been backed by an accompanying white paper ‘Bring Your Own Device’. The conclusions of this report provide further proof that (as this writer has previously argued) enterprises can no longer afford to be without a BYOD policy. The research suggests that around 50% of employees are now formally allowed to use their mobile devices at work, but that actual usage rates are significantly higher. In other words, most companies now know that preventing mobile device usage is a losing battle. What is more significant for enterprises, however, is that 60% of the surveyed IT managers felt that using smart devices in the workplace increased worker efficiency and 84% of IT managers surveyed believe that a BYOD policy confers a competitive advantage, with 31% suggesting that a BYOD policy gives a ‘significant advantage’. Of employees surveyed, 59% stated that they use personal devices to access files from company servers. With productivity advantages on one side and real security risks on the other, perhaps the biggest surprise in BT and Cisco’s white paper was that the research suggested that the number of enterprises with an official BYOD policy in place has fallen. Read more of this post

What Comes After Enterprise Social Networking? Business Networking

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise social networking is nothing more than a passing fancy, at least in terms of describing the idea of collaboration.
  • For a view into what will follow, we need look no further than our own corporate priorities and the manner in which vendors seek to meet those priorities.

Language is a slippery customer. We mold and evolve words and phrases to meet our expectations of how the world works at any given time. For that reason, words and phrases come and go, depending upon whether or not they fulfill this need. And as I’ve been informed, many of the beloved words from my youth are no longer meaningful, words like preppie, hoser, rad, tubular and of course groupware. Read more of this post

Enterprise Connect Sure to Reflect Mobilization Trend

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Richer display technology, more powerful cameras, and ubiquitous, high-speed connectivity are ushering in a new era of mobile computing wherein mobile devices begin eating into traditional desktop UI paradigms.
  • Seeking to capitalize upon this trend, communications and collaboration vendors are sure to push their product sets deeper into these mobile devices, a move that will create some interesting opportunities for IT administrators.

Along with a number of my cohorts here at Current Analysis, I’ll be heading to Orlando, Florida next week to attend Enterprise Connect.  This is one of the oldest and most important events on the calendar for unified communications (UC) and video vendors.  Over the years, this show has heralded and helped to define a number of important market transitions, such as the move to make voice and video operations not just an IT cost center, but an agent of revenue generation for the entire enterprise.  Last year in particular, Enterprise Connect was home to one such market-redefining moment, namely the consumerization of IT.  This was epitomized by Microsoft’s demonstration of its communications solution (Microsoft Lync) working together with its gaming console, Xbox Kinect, forming a gesture-based conferencing solution. Read more of this post

Socializing Data, Not Just People

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Collaboration players accustomed to putting people above data can learn a thing or two from infrastructure vendors steeped in the rigors of data integration, event processing, and systems automation.
  • TIBCO’s new geolocation service, tibbr GEO, successfully turns a physical location into a contextual data hub where information is socialized alongside people.

I spent most of my early years skiing in the Rocky Mountains, a fact which has apparently skewed the way I perceive the world.  This worldview, as my wife has pointed out many times, makes me drive too fast and complain about a distinct shortage of mountains in the Northeast.  It is the same for technology companies.  Early experiences inform future actions.  A vendor steeped in messaging, for example, views the collaboration business as a people-driven equation.  So, what happens when a vendor accustomed to viewing all business problems as being data-driven approaches collaboration? Read more of this post