Is Mobile UC Already Dead?
The need for a single number used to be pitched as a main driver for adopting mobile UC. Enterprise Connect speakers called that need into question.
Michael Finneran has written many times about the UC platform vendors' failure to make a dent in the mobile world. They haven't been a major factor when it comes to getting their clients deployed on mobile devices, and mobility in general has functioned more as a silo separate from enterprise communications systems.
The one thing that enterprise platforms seemed to have going for them when it came to mobile integration was the concept of single-number. This wasn't so much a convenience factor--sure, it's great to have one number to call that finds you wherever you are, but people who really desperately wanted that function already could do it with Google Voice. The perception was, however, that it was important for the enterprise to own the numbers by which its employees were being reached; this was thought to be especially important with employees such as sales people, who might turn around and go to work for a competitor, keeping their personal phone number and thus more easily poaching their former employer's customers.
But we heard from a couple of end user speakers at Enterprise Connect that this simply isn't proving a compelling enough justification to implement mobile UC clients--even in the clichéd "salesperson" example.
In our opening Tuesday plenary session, Dave Orth of Gannett said his company had been pitched repeatedly about the value of one-number/one-device functionality, but he said he just hadn't been able to convince his users to buy into it: "Sales people hold up their cell phones and say: This is my number," he said.
Michael Klein of Liberty Mutual echoed that sentiment: "The one-number thing is not that big a deal anymore," he said.
This may have something to do with the way in which BYOD has altered the balance of power between end user and IT/communications organizations. IT can no longer issue fiats that end users feel bound to obey. Yes, there are policies and users are expected to follow them. But end users simply don't seem inclined to accept policies unquestioningly, especially when those policies touch devices that the users engage with outside of work. At best, it's a negotiation and appeal to reason.
In that opening plenary session, David Stever of Penn Medicine explained that in his health care organization, it's no longer about provisioning a standard set of devices and services/functions, but is instead much more about figuring out what the user needs and working with what they want to use. "Our interaction with the user is far more collaborative," he said. "It's a lot more show-and-tell"--that is, showing and telling the user what they can do with communications, and understanding how the user needs it to work.
Of course, health care, like many other industries, is heavily regulated, so end users are never going to be free to simply go it alone and do anything their hearts desire. But what's become clear is that end users have a stronger voice in the decision-making when it comes to communications than they've ever had before.
In a Monday Enterprise Connect general session, Cisco Collaboration GM Rowan Trollope coined the soundbite-worthy maxim: "Deployment is dead. It should be adoption, not deployment." Up to now, mobile UC has been all about deployment--which has noticeably not translated into adoption. Indications, at least at Enterprise Connect last week, are that adoption may never really happen in significant numbers.