Cisco APJC Collaboration: A Step Towards Pervasive Enterprise Collaboration

Harish Taori

Harish Taori

Summary Bullets:

  • Launching its innovative DX80 / DX70 endpoints and collaboration meeting room (CMR) solution, Cisco makes an attempt to plug the gaps in its collaboration offering for enterprises.
  • However, Cisco needs to improve its value proposition by making the solution easy to acquire, consume and manage in a heterogeneous IT environment to address persistent TCO concerns.

It was a bright sunny day when I landed in Macau to attend Cisco’s APJC collaboration summit last week. The summit started with two major announcements – launch of collaboration endpoints DX80/70 and the collaboration meeting room (CMR) solution – both part of Cisco’s “Browser to Boardroom” theme. The former was an attempt to consolidate the number of communication/collaboration devices present on a work desk in one endpoint while the latter (CMR) was a software solution that caught my attention due to its broader appeal to the enterprises. Read more of this post

Enterprise Connect 2014: WebRTC and Video to Occupy Center Stage

Cindy Whelan

Cindy Whelan

Summary Bullets:

  • Video and WebRTC occupy a major role for Enterprise Connect conference sessions as well as planned announcements.
  • Cloud and mobility are constants in the collaboration marketplace, as enterprises increasingly embrace usage-based collaboration and communications solutions as well as manage employee demand for mobility options.

Next week, I will join my colleagues in Orlando, Florida at Enterprise Connect, one of the longest-running voice/UC/collaboration trade shows in the industry and a great opportunity to spend some time with companies I speak with frequently and get a look at new entrants to the market.  A quick glance down a recent list of upcoming show announcements included (not surprisingly) a long list of WebRTC and video-related launches along with a healthy dose of contact center enhancements.  I’m particularly interested to get an update on where WebRTC stands in the collaboration and communications service landscape.  Last year, WebRTC figured prominently at Enterprise Connect, with an entire mini-conference on the topic, and that is the case again in 2014.  WebRTC is still in its early stages: there are a number of aspects of the service still under development, and WebRTC is still not supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer or Apple Safari web browsers.  Over the long term, WebRTC has the potential to be a real disrupter in the market, letting vendors and service providers implement easy-to-use voice and video applications for B2B and B2C communications.  Video, specifically ‘personal’ desktop applications, is another topic that seems to be generating a fair bit of buzz and publicity in advance of the show, as providers add services and features that take the complexity out of video conferencing in a bid to make it as easy to use as audio. 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

The Four Cs of Effective Collaboration

Tim Banting

Tim Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise social collaboration, when correctly implemented, reduces decision making time and building upon the collective wisdom of communities
  • Technology is but part of an enterprise social collaboration strategy- there are other barriers to adoption that need to be overcome

Modern organizations understand they need to react to a rapidly changing business environment quickly. The need to address customer demands, react to competitive threats, and improve profitability, is largely dependent on the way employees interact and engage, collaborate and communicate – not only with each other, but also with business partners and customers. Read more of this post

Dimension Data Highlights Expertise as Global Telepresence and Managed Video Services Provider

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Dimension Data draws on its global professional services and in-country staff to operate its own successful managed video services offer.
  • Dimension Data draws on its own tools, global video hardware support organization for rapid troubleshooting and resolution of customers’ issues.

Dimension Data is known for its global professional services and solutions building, outsourcing, network integration, hardware device installation and support. While it doesn’t have the name-brand recognition of the carrier-side global telepresence services providers, the company has been steadily building its Managed Services for Visual Communications base. The company now describes having 250 clients for its managed video services, representing 6,000 video endpoints and processing more than 20,000 calls per month, combining immersive and non-immersive endpoints. Read more of this post

The Cloud – Simply a CapEx/OpEx Choice?

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The cloud approach to telecom solutions is catching on like wildfire as a growing number of vendors offer a cloud version of their products and some report that cloud solutions already account for the major portion of all sales.
  • In addition to a shift of expenditures from a large capital outlay to a monthly operational expense the reasons companies are moving to the cloud fall into a few more categories including; flexibility in changing capacity levels, speed in adding applications to premise-based solutions while protecting current investments, and disaster recovery back-up.

While much is made of the CapEx versus OpEx comparison of premise- versus cloud-based solutions, it seems those decisions are limited, for the most part, to end users that are in the start-up or “greenfield” mode of their lifecycle. Conversations I have had with many enterprise end users regarding the premise versus cloud decision process, as well as vendors selling telecom solutions, suggest many purchasing situations fits into one of three scenarios. In scenario 1 the business has a premise-based solution but appreciates the ability of the cloud to add capacity when needed and shrink capacity when activity slows down. Such a situation could be a retail contact center with a premise-based solution that must expand and shrink based on the seasonality of their business. Adding remote, home-based agents via a cloud offering is the perfect solution. Scenario 2 are end users with a substantial investment in a premise-based solution but a requirement to add applications and broader functionality quickly and efficiently without scrapping the not yet depreciated investment. The application of a “hybrid” solution allows the business to add applications to existing solutions without scrapping the premise based solution prematurely, before it is fully depreciated. In scenario 3, a few end users see cloud solutions as a method of providing a disaster recovery, back-up system to their premise-based system that will take over operations when disaster strikes. In this situation the cloud solution can be run in parallel to the premise solution and the cloud could take over if and when the premise-based solution fails for any reason, maintaining operations. Although the disaster solution may add significantly to operating costs, in many situations company revenue streams can be preserved, which make it a feasible investment. Read more of this post

Managed Videoconferencing Homes in on Price Point Differentiation

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets

  • Reservationless telepresence – emulating the familiar dial-in audioconferencing experience – has proven popular, to the point that the major competitors either have it, or are launching it.
  • Telepresence providers with a large conventional videoconferencing installed base are now drawing from these benefits, as their clients expand beyond immersive endpoints.

As Current Analysis has begun its latest analysis and update to the world’s major telepresence and videoconferencing providers, some trends are already becoming clear. Below is a list of issues that are currently top-of-mind for service providers: Read more of this post

The Superior Customer Service/Personalization Trade-Off: A Decision Based on Trust

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • An in-depth understanding of the customer, on the part of the enterprise, has the potential to provide a superior customer service experience and establish the groundwork for a high level of customer satisfaction, loyalty and longevity, assuming the enterprise makes appropriate use of the information.
  • Many customers are still reluctant to share personal information with a customer service provider because there remains a strong distrust regarding whether or not the information will be used appropriately and contained within the boundaries of the enterprise to which it was entrusted.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the ITEXPO Conference in Miami Beach and act as moderator for two breakout panel sessions focused on the topics of “customer personalization” and “creating a consistent and quality customer experience” during customer service interactions. The three panelists on the stage with me at each session represented companies that develop, sell or use technologies designed to improve customer service interactions. The companies included InAppCare, Nuance/VirtuOz, Phone.com, TSG Global and VHT. Oddly enough, both sessions gravitated to an audience-prompted discussion regarding trading private and personal information for the potential of getting better service from the enterprise. While many argued that they thought customer care solutions were far from successful in meeting their expectations and needed improvement, it was implied that they were not willing to trade their privacy to improve the situation, at least not yet. Read more of this post

Vendor Upheaval Overrated

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • It is questionable whether vendor difficulties or management upheaval should be a major concern when making an IT buying decision.
  • Due diligence is important, but history suggests that fear-mongering is overrated.

It is debatable how much the financial or managerial state of a potential supplier should weigh on the minds of IT buyers as they consider various solutions.  Sure, on the one hand, no buyer wants to get caught out with an investment in products from a company that may not be able to support it for long.  On the other hand, how often does that actually happen? Read more of this post

Premise, Hosted or Both? What UC Model Will Prevail in the Future?

Cindy Whelan

Cindy Whelan

Summary Bullets:

  • As the unified communications (UC) market develops, enterprises have access to a wide range of solutions from equipment vendors and service providers that offer hosted and on-premise UC solutions.
  • Enterprises that want to deploy hosted and managed UC solutions must consider which entire service wrap has the best model for their needs.

Carriers have long supported premises-based managed IP PBX solutions, typically based on platforms from Avaya, Cisco and Siemens.  In 2011, as interest in unified communications services began to grow, major service providers added hosted UC offers based on the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) platform.  In 2012, service providers continued to build out their UC solutions, adding support for Microsoft Lync.  BT launched a pilot program for a dedicated hosted Microsoft Lync solution in February 2012, followed by its October 2012 commercial launch of hosted Lync in the U.S.  In November 2012, Verizon opted for a different approach with the launch of a managed customer premise-based Microsoft Lync solution that can be offered alongside a professional services practice specifically designed for Lync implementations. Orange Business Services has had a dedicated hosted Microsoft Lync offer for some time, and plans a Microsoft Lync ‘as a service’ shared hosted platform in 2013.  Many more carriers have certified their SIP trunking solutions with Microsoft Lync, even if they don’t yet provide a fully managed UC solution for the platform. Read more of this post