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.


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

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.