At IBM the Future of Collaboration Isn’t Rosy. It’s Pink!

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• IBM has a problem. How can it present a viable alternative to the Microsoft collaboration juggernaut that is Office 365 while simultaneously bringing its still sizable IBM Connections customer base forward?

• The answer, apparently, is to turn pink. After Connections 6 rolls out, IBM will completely reinvent its collaboration platform, quite literally throwing aside internal obligations, existing software investments and technical dependencies.

Usually I find it hard to take a man dressed in a pink linen pink suite seriously. That’s especially true if the man is standing in front of a huge PowerPoint slide adorned with an animated, dancing puffer fish. So, when I sat down this week at the IBM Connect 2017 conference in San Francisco to listen in on a session by IBM’s Baan Slavens and Jason Roy Gary on the future of IBM Connections, I was prepared for disappointment. Rather, I was prepared for “yet another” grand but ultimately unachievable view of how collaboration might be, if only IBM were free from corporate obligations, past engineering investments and technological dependencies. I was entirely mistaken. 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

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

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

Collaboration in the Enterprise Needs a Wakeup Call

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • If we are to move forward with enterprise collaboration as something more than a cost center, perhaps our very idea of collaboration needs a hard reset.
  • It’s time we did away with the notion of collaboration as a discrete set of tools and instead explored the idea of collaboration as ambient user engagement.

I think the enterprise collaboration market is ripe for a bit of a shakeup. Somewhere there’s a wake-up call ringing right now, a signal to vendors and to enterprise IT professionals that the current swirling paradigms of thought on the matter of collaboration have slowed and are currently stymied by an overabundance of bright shiny market trends like cloud, mobility, social networking, and even big data. Of course, like many, I feel that the effective application of capabilities such as expertise location, geo positioning, and multi-channel delivery will mean a lot to the future of Microsoft Office 365, IBM Connections, Unify Ansible, Avaya Aura, and Jive Social Business Software. Furthermore, the many collaborative modalities wrapped up within these solutions (doc sharing, email, chat, voice/video, event streams, etc.) are part and parcel to their success and to our success as users and IT professionals. Read more of this post

Wearable Computing Will Forever Alter Collaboration, But Not How You Might Think

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • What does Google’s Android Wear mean for enterprise IT and for collaboration vendors?
  • The surprising conjunction of wearable computing and predictive analytics foretells an interesting future where collaboration is driven not by the best interface but by the best intuition.

I’ll say it. I’m a certified, card carrying WIS, a “Watch Idiot Savant” to be specific. I wear a watch 24×7, usually a mainspring driven mechanical piece of what I consider to be wearable art. So it was by no means easy for me to set all of that mechanistic pomposity aside and don one of Google’s new and somewhat awkward Android Wear-based smart watches. But that’s exactly what I did and have done for the past five days, happily sticking with this homely, underpowered and sometimes demanding wrist adornment. What did I learn? First, I’ll most likely need to turn in my WIS card. Second, I’m no longer a slave to my mobile phone. And third, the future of collaboration in the enterprise will no longer be driven by the best interface, but instead it will be ruled by the best intuition. 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

Microsoft Will Finally Have Its Own Devices After Buying Nokia

ITCB-TimBanting

Tim Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • In order to increase revenue in the “post-PC” era, Microsoft needs to create a compelling proposition to attract consumers and business buyers in foundational smartphone and tablet markets.
  • To fulfill its vision of becoming a devices and services company and to maximize profit, Microsoft needs to decouple its reliance on its current platform partners through building its own hardware. Nokia provides the much needed means of doing so.

My old school badge on my blazer read “Nemo Sibi Nascitur” (Latin: “No one is born unto himself alone”) highlighting the need to work together and support each other, something that true partnerships are all about. Read more of this post