But with all the new choices, enterprise IT is going to have to change how it approaches decisions relative to communications and collaboration.
Choice in the marketplace is good, right? More choices should mean lower prices, and greater opportunity to customize your communications architecture to fit your enterprise. It should mean that your odds improve of finding a "partner" rather than just a supplier.
And going into 2013, some of those benefits are readily apparent, particularly the one about being able to design and implement an architecture that best matches your communications & collaboration requirements. You can go with a new PBX and add as much--or as little--UC as you want. Or, in many cases you can put UC alongside an already-installed PBX--you might need to upgrade or add some gateways, but no need to rip and replace.
Or, you may be in an enterprise or business unit that doesn't rely on voice as much as it does on messaging, email, texting or even video. If so, there are desktop/UC-centric architectures and offerings from a growing number of vendors, including some that made their rep in traditional PBXs, but that don't have telephony as the centerpiece. And, for just about any set of requirements, you can implement on-prem, in a Cloud or a mix of the two.
On the device side, you can go more wireless than wireline or vice-versa. As for video, it's not a question of capability or availability; instead, budget and organizational style determine whether you put video everywhere, nowhere or somewhere in between.
In short, if you see the marketplace as "one-size-fits-all," you need a new pair of glasses.
But the benefits of choice don't come free. Most enterprises won't start at total ground zero, and however you narrow the field to match your particular situation, there's still a lot to do. What was, until recently, a fairly homogenous set of user requirements is splintering even as the set of tools and delivery systems that can be applied to those requirements is expanding. BYOD is the most visible example of this situation. BYOD means re-examining existing wireless service contracts as well as making decisions about which devices to support. All this has propelled the Mobile Device Management (MDM) crowd from obscurity on to the center stage.
But the bottom line is that while all these choices enable far more flexibility and capability, all this customizing of your architecture isn't inexpensive and it doesn't happen overnight.
Helping you move through those issues and deal with the interplay between them is at the core of the agenda for Enterprise Connect 2013. There'll be mock RFP sessions that will cover three scenarios--buying UC with a new PBX, buying UC without a new PBX, and migrating to Cloud-based UC.
And it's also why we're running a special one-day program on WebRTC on Monday, March 18. WebRTC creates an entirely new approach to delivering real-time voice and video via the Web, and therefore it has major implications for contact centers as well as for core enterprise voice and video strategies.
This industry has been trying to shed "one-size-fits-all" architectures for as long as I can remember. And the reality is that the goal has finally been achieved. That's the good news.
The bad news, and it's really not all that bad, is summed up by the phrase "be careful what you wish for." Because with all the new choices, it's clear that enterprise IT is going to have to change how it approaches decisions relative to communications and collaboration. The next RFP you issue is likely to be different, in some cases substantially so, from your last RFP, which probably didn't include references to SIP Trunking, and which treated topics like mobility, security and video in ways that have been overtaken and revamped by changes in technology, end-user requirements and budget realities.
In short, we really are in a new age of communications and collaboration, and while fundamental business requirements like TCO/ROI, security, availability and manageability haven't changed, the way they're applied and what they're applied to are undergoing a significant transformation. Enterprise Connect will be covering this evolution, and I hope to see you there.