Blair Pleasant
Blair Pleasant is President & Principal Analyst of COMMfusion LLC and a co-founder of UCStrategies. She provides consulting and market...
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Blair Pleasant | November 08, 2010 |


UC Still Alive and Kicking

UC Still Alive and Kicking UC has helped many companies reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve customer satisfaction. And we're just getting started.

UC has helped many companies reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve customer satisfaction. And we're just getting started.

A few weeks ago I was at an Alcatel-Lucent conference where one of the main speakers suggested that unified communications had failed. This was on the heels of a Gartner analyst proclaiming that Unified Communications is the biggest scam since Ponzi, and around the same time my colleague Michael Finneran wrote an article noting that that the term "unified communications" did not come up in any of the mobility sessions he attended at Interop, and that while the UC proponents were talking about mobility, the mobility folks were not talking about UC.

Considering that I make my living from spreading the UC gospel, helping companies develop their UC strategies, and helping vendors position and market their UC products, this was a bit disconcerting. So I had to ask myself, did UC fail?

It took me about 2 seconds to realize that no, it did not fail, but many of the vendors selling UC solutions failed in their attempts to properly position, market, and sell UC. The ALU conference speaker noted that solution providers have failed to show enough value from UC implementations, and that the industry needs to move from selling technology to selling solutions. I would agree with that wholeheartedly, but add that we at UCStrategies have been saying this for years. That's one reason we target our UC Summit at what we termed "solution integrators" as opposed to VARs and resellers--it's about the solutions, not the products or technologies. And it's also why I always end my UC presentations with the slide stating "UC is a vision or philosophy that leads to solutions--it is not a product."

Regarding the Gartner analyst's comments about UC, he uses the argument that you can't build "a decent business case for UC; people end up using bizarre logic involving the value of saving 15 minutes a day per employee." Pulease--I haven't heard this since the old unified messaging days.

No one talks about UC saving a few minutes a day; instead, we talk (or should be talking) about how UC helps to reduce "human latency" in business processes by integrating communication functions directly into the systems and applications that people use to do their jobs, and how UC can proactively deliver information to the right people at the right time, allowing decisions to be made faster, products brought to market sooner, and customer inquiries and problems resolved faster. All of this impacts the bottom line in terms of improved competitive business position, reduced costs of doing business, faster revenue generation, and increased profitability.

And to Michael's statement about UC and mobility, he notes that "Users are interested in bringing their much-prized mobility experience to work, but no one is begging for UC." This is a fair comment and one that points to the inability of UC providers to get their message across to end users rather than the IT folks. Again, UC needs to be sold as a solution that solves business users' problems, rather than as a technology.

Most enterprise telephony vendors have integrated their UC capabilities into a variety of mobile devices, including the consumer-friendly iPhone. Going forward, we'll see more and more companies opt for UC solutions that focus on the user rather than the device. A key example will be solutions that provide users with a single phone number to reach them regardless of device. So when a sales exec leaves the company and takes their mobile phone with them, customer calls will continue go to the company, not to the cell phone.

The evidence of UC successes is all around us. Over 800 case studies can be found on the vendors’ site from our UCStrategies case study page. Some of the case studies actually show the misdirection of some vendors who want UC to mean "upgrade your PBX and move to SIP trunks." But most are serious UC case studies. And, the official sources at Gartner, who publish the UC Magic Quadrant, note that Microsoft is seeing "year-over-year increased adoption" for their Office Communications Server 2007 R2. Perhaps UC hasn't had the explosive growth many of us had expected, although a good deal of the blame can be placed on the economy and recession, rather than the failure of the industry. But those who are bemoaning lack of UC opportunity may well be showing their misunderstanding of the market, rather than reporting facts.

UC has helped many companies reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve customer satisfaction. And we're just getting started.


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