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Marty Parker
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Marty Parker | June 23, 2008 |

 
   

Could They Be Looking for UC in All the Wrong Places?

Could They Be Looking for UC in All the Wrong Places? This past Thursday, June 19, Fred Knight asked the question, "Where's the Beef?" in response to an article in Network World reporting on uncertainty about Unified Communications (UC) in "a recent survey of 2008 networking plans from Forrester Research." Forrester represented that there is "confusion about the value" of UC, even as they report that 27% of the firms have or are deploying it and another 57% are piloting or evaluating it. Pretty unusual to have 84% of the respondents involved with UC if there is such "confusion about the value."

This past Thursday, June 19, Fred Knight asked the question, "Where's the Beef?" in response to an article in Network World reporting on uncertainty about Unified Communications (UC) in "a recent survey of 2008 networking plans from Forrester Research." Forrester represented that there is "confusion about the value" of UC, even as they report that 27% of the firms have or are deploying it and another 57% are piloting or evaluating it. Pretty unusual to have 84% of the respondents involved with UC if there is such "confusion about the value."

This past Thursday, June 19, Fred Knight asked the question, "Where's the Beef?" in response to an article in Network World reporting on uncertainty about Unified Communications (UC) in "a recent survey of 2008 networking plans from Forrester Research." Forrester represented that there is "confusion about the value" of UC, even as they report that 27% of the firms have or are deploying it and another 57% are piloting or evaluating it. Pretty unusual to have 84% of the respondents involved with UC if there is such "confusion about the value."So I went and read the Network World article. My conclusion is that Forrester probably picked an attention-getting headline out of a general purpose survey on "networking plans" to derive some indication of UC directions and adoption. (If I were an industry analyst firm, I'd likely report confusion existing about everything. And I won't even start on the terrible quality of surveys regarding UC, to-date; seems that to be an expert on UC, just publish a survey.)

Next, I'll applaud Jim Duffy, the reporter at NetworkWorld for his research, because he provides all the evidence needed to prove that the headline and the Forrester conclusions are just plain wrong.

  • First, he provides a link to a June 4, 2008, article by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick headlined, "Unified Communications Pervades the Enterprise, Part I". The article points to a different survey of 800 members of Nortel User Groups (i.e. customers) conducted by Steve Taylor and Joannie Wexler, in which 58% of respondents reported they were "more interested" or "substantially more interested" in deploying UC than they were 12 months ago. And, most (84%) of these customers self-identified as "mainstream adopters", not the first to move.

  • In that same survey, Steve and Joannie did the responsible thing by providing a definition, not just tossing it up for grabs. The baseline definition was: "presence-enabled communications that integrates telephony, desktop and business applications to deliver a unified user experience and to streamline desktop and business processes." UniComm Consulting and UCStrategies.com agree with this definition, which is in harmony with our initial definition in 2006 of UC as "Communications integrated to optimize business processes." Pretty similar to the italicized words above.

  • And, even better, the Steve and Joannie survey actually reported on 7 "Benefits" the respondents expected to get from UC and 10 "Reasons" to deploy. Respondents selected the Benefits of Enhanced Workforce (user) Productivity at 74%, Enhanced Workflow (process) Productivity at 65%, and Enhanced Customer Service at 59%. The Reasons to deploy reflected the Benefits; Increase Employee Mobility (which Forrester said was #1, ahead of UC) ranked #3 at 45%--impressive, but not #1.

    Finally, Jim goes on to reference other factoids from the Forrester Research survey, and I wonder if he was taunting the survey's confusion claim in the process. Specifically, he reports that, "Forty percent of firms have already deployed IP audio and IP Web conferencing, with videoconferencing (37%) and IP PBX (29%) not too far behind. Adoption continues to rise, as 49% of firms are rolling out or evaluating audio- and Web conferencing." I would observe that IP Web Conferencing (which almost always includes presence and IM and likely supports native VoIP) is definitely well within the definition of UC. Note that IP PBX trails the IP Web conferencing number, making the point that UC and UC-like adoption seems to have made a leapfrog over the VoIP market; this is consistent with the success that IBM Sametime and Microsoft Office Communications Server are reporting, with roughly 100 million "entitled" users of each product.

    In response to the question, "Where's the beef?" posed by Fred on Thursday and asked by Wendy's in the 1980s, I guess I'd say that McDonalds didn't seem to have any problem selling billions and billions even after that ad. And as to the definition and uptake of Unified Communications, I'd just suggest you ask some of my UC Success Story panelists from VoiceCon Orlando 2008 - you'll know them by the hamburger juice on their T-shirts.

    Let me know what you think, please: mparker@UniCommConsulting.com.



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