Jim  Burton
JIM BURTONFounder and CEO, CT Link, LLCCo-Founder, UCStrategiesJim Burton is Founder and CEO of CT Link, LLC. Burton founded the...
Read Full Bio >>

Jim Burton | June 18, 2014 |


Navigating the New Terrain

Navigating the New Terrain I see big changes coming in our industry. Here's some advice on how vendors and enterprises can cope with the new landscape.

I see big changes coming in our industry. Here's some advice on how vendors and enterprises can cope with the new landscape.

I consult with vendors, helping them with strategic planning and partnering. To help my clients, I pay close attention to industry and market trends and vendor positioning. I see big changes coming in our industry, and I thought I'd share my views and offer some advice for all stakeholders--vendors, enterprise customers, channel partners and consultants.

Industry and market trends: Some trends like mobility and the consumerization of IT continue, and will play a critical role in our industry going forward. I view cloud as more of an evolving trend, with more vendors working on multi-tenant and hybrid solutions. Most are still in development, which means the vendors haven't figured everything out yet and will likely miss on any announced target release dates.

Another evolving trend, and one of the most important, is the ability to collect and "serve up" more information to applications. That information can come from many sources and include being discovered by search engines, analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc. These new ways of retrieving and delivering information will be an important element in the next phase (or "shift") in our industry.

This is no longer just about unifying communications (UC); it is now all about integrating communications and information technologies, especially applications.

A new trend to follow is software-defined networks (SDN). It will drive the cost of networking down while simplifying maintenance and improving service.

Vendor positioning: Many vendors will deliver cloud solutions, but you need to look at who owns a "cloud". Three such vendors--Amazon, Google and Microsoft--have a significant advantage in delivering next-generation integrated communications and information technologies.

In addition, IBM and Microsoft are well positioned to deliver solutions that require analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Think of Bing in this way and you can see an advantage Microsoft has over many of its UC competitors. Of course, IBM has Watson, and that will help their partners compete in many ways yet to be discovered.

Vendors: The big question is where does Microsoft fit in your plans--as a competitor or a partner. Microsoft has announced it will add voice to Office 365. That alone will be a big challenge for current and future cloud voice competitors. But add analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to that, and Microsoft will be hard to beat.

Figure out how to compete where Microsoft is weak or doesn't play. Vertical markets are a possibility since Microsoft focuses on the big horizontal market. At the same time, look for ways to leverage IBM products and services.

Enterprise Customers: The obvious--look for vendors that are going to be around. Remember what happened to the midrange computer market--Wang, DEC and Data General? Remember what happened to Nortel and the shakeup in the PBX industry?

Get help--find a well-qualified reseller (SI, VAR, etc.). Hire a consultant who has helped others with projects similar to yours. Take time to plan, plan, plan.

Channel Partners: Many vendors are trying to make their products self-service. This will reduce some of the opportunities that channel partners enjoy today, but new technology is always complicated and customers will always need help. Focus on services, customizations and integrations. Make sure to offer a customers a choice. The days of offering a single option for a voice requirement are over.

Consultants: Do your research. Collaborate with other consultants who have more expertise in areas where you need help. Work with vendors that support consultants. If they don't support you as a consultant who recommends multiple solutions per year, how can you expect them to support your client?

The landscape is changing. I hope this advice will help you navigate the new terrain.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
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 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.