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

New and Exciting Times are Ahead in Browser-based Communications as IP Exchange and WebRTC Mature

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

• The Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) standards body is dedicated to establishing a common set of protocols for WebRTC applications on browsers, mobile platforms, and IoT devices.

• OTTs look to wholesale carrier IPX to add crucial Quality of Service (QoS) metrics to WebRTC tools, opening new possibilities for highly reliable and enterprise-grade solutions.

The Internet has introduced some pretty exciting life-changing things since its creation. Its relentless evolution continues to impact everything we do. WebRTC holds considerable promise to impact our lives further as browser-based voice, video and chat, becomes possible on any connected device. WebRTC already allows browser-to-browser video, with developer Bistri for example reporting strong traction and rapid growth in browser-instigated video calls. For wholesale carriers that have invested considerably in IPX, the attention to WebRTC applications from OTTs is causing everyone to sit up. This is because as WebRTC applications proliferate, the inherent QoS in IPX combined with imaginative new applications dreamed up by OTTs should drive both traffic and revenues onto IPX-enabled networks. The addition of mobility, including LTE, to the mix just makes the prospects that much more enticing, with video calls possible and the possibility for browsers to ‘talk to each other’ in the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility ecosystem. 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

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