SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Michael Finneran | December 17, 2013 |

 
   

Is Lync Mobile The Last Hope for Mobile UC?

Is Lync Mobile The Last Hope for Mobile UC? Microsoft is indeed coming at the UC market from a completely different angle in mobility. But it still has its challenges.

Microsoft is indeed coming at the UC market from a completely different angle in mobility. But it still has its challenges.

As we close out 2013, it appears that once again mobile UC clients on smartphones and tablets remain the most over-hyped and least utilized of communications technologies. Despite countless demonstrations, limelight positioning at industry keynotes, and innumerable lemmings touting its importance as a key element in any UC&C product, we can still find virtually no significant base of regular users. At least some of the vendor reps have finally installed their company's mobile client on their smartphones, but it almost seems like they had to be threatened with public flogging to get it that far.

The lack of uptake in mobile UC might be a by-product of the rather tentative acceptance of UC as a whole. In the InformationWeek 2013 State of UC survey and report, we found that the percentage of companies reporting UC deployments crept from 36% in 2012 to 38% in 2013. And among those who have deployed or are planning to deploy UC, 47% report serving 25% or fewer of their users. When asked to what degree various UC elements were being used in their organizations, mobile UC clients ranked near the bottom, occupying the same neighborhood as "social networking," "voice over Wi-Fi" and "softphones."

I started tracking the mobile UC market over five years ago, along with all of the other various and sundry attempts to craft a meaningful mobile hook for UC. Those included not just the mobile UC clients but other efforts such as: the dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular systems like those from ShoreTel Mobility (formerly Agito Networks), BlackBerry MVS, and Varaha; network-based services like Sprint Mobile Integration and Tango Networks' Abrazo (also used in Sprint Mobile Integration); the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA)-based offering from T-Mobile; and even more obtuse but equally unsuccessful gambits from more companies than I can readily (or more precisely, "bother to") remember.

Clearly, the mobile device and mobile apps market is not having the same problems. In the five years mobile UC has floundered, smartphone penetration in the U.S. has climbed from around 18% to over 60%, and the smartphone has essentially gone from an accessory for C-Level executives, to something you better be getting your kid for Christmas. (Chanukah came early this year, so those kids have theirs already.)

Again we ask the question, why do the UC vendors even bother trying to maintain this charade? The vendors' marketing investment has been successful only to the extent that "mobile UC" has become an all-important "RFP check-off;" some of us set the "success" bar a little higher.

It appears that as long as the PBX can forward desk calls to the user's mobile number (and every IP and even some TDM PBXs can do that), we've got what most users are looking for. The unmet challenge remains delivering mobile capabilities that enhance the UC experience and that users value enough to actually use on a regular basis.

My last hope for a meaningful UC capability rests with Microsoft, and in that I recognize I might be grabbing at straws. Microsoft is indeed coming at the UC (and with it, voice) market from a completely different angle. Far more so than the other UC suppliers, Microsoft actually seems to have been listening to what we've been talking about in mobility, including things like mobile device management (MDM), mobile security, mobile application management (MAM), and business transformation (aka CEBP) driven by mobility. More importantly, the company has actually taken those concepts into account in developing their mobile capability.

That's not to say that it will be successful either, but Microsoft does have a couple of things going for it. The first is that email remains the leading enterprise mobile application, and Microsoft's Exchange remains the email platform of choice. More importantly, Microsoft also controls a mobile operating system with Windows Phone, and now a mobile device platform through the Nokia acquisition.

These factors position Microsoft to make a run at the enterprise mobile market; it will remain a long shot to think any company is going to be able to take on the Apple-Android duopoly and eke out any meaningful share of the consumer market. But for the enterprise, a mobile user experience that makes the native operating system work seamlessly with Lync and its other software tools would be a unique offering.

In spite of these potential advantages, for the moment Microsoft continues to follow what has become the well-trodden path to failure, by using a mobile client on Windows Phone that operates essentially the same way that it does on Apple and Android devices--but at least it has the ability to deliver something better.

In any event, I just thank goodness that the rest of the mobile world is charging ahead, so the success of my practice isn't tied to the fate of mobile UC.





COMMENTS



August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.