SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tom Nolle
Tom Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and the principal consultant/analyst. Tom started his career as a...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Tom Nolle | June 24, 2014 |

 
   

UC/UCC and Swiss Army Knives

UC/UCC and Swiss Army Knives It’s time to get realistic about UC/UCC, which is on track to be subducted into multiple windows and social behaviors.

It’s time to get realistic about UC/UCC, which is on track to be subducted into multiple windows and social behaviors.

It's time to get realistic about UC/UCC. Ever since someone discovered that workers were communicating through means other than POTS, we've been talking about unified platforms that harmonize all our diverse communications tools into one glorious whole. A whole that, not coincidentally, was "Now available!" from some vendor or another and "Poised for explosive growth!" Humbug. How long do we wait for this future? It's time to move on.

What killed that glorious-whole model of UC? We did. Because we're so adept at switching among multiple apps, we can effortlessly juggle multiple email, voice, video, chat/IM, and social options. There's no "unified" problem to solve. For the big PBX vendors who believed that "unified" communications would save their voice market opportunity, this is bad news, but it's still reality. All UC/UCC strategies will fail because we're already unified enough for all practical purposes.

We can learn a lesson from a more pedestrian tool than a smartphone or tablet--the Swiss Army knife. They propose value through integration alone, but there are so many different Leatherman and Victorinox and other brands, that differentiation is tough. How many tools can you cram in? So what would a tool provider do? They'd realize that you can't carve your turkey with one, or fix your eyeglasses or cut canvas with a universal gadget. If you need to do one of those specialty things, you need the specialty tool. That's what the PBX and voice incumbents should be looking at here. If you want to make your "UC/UCC suite" valuable, then you have to make it really good at something that's important. If you can do that, then people will pay more and want you more at the same time. In short, it's about features and their business value.

Some of the old-line voice executives I talk with accept the idea that feature differentiation on aspects of their UC/UCC solution is the right way to go, but they despair at competition from the cloud. In their view, they could spend a lot of R&D money on creating a couple of premises-hosted killer communications and collaboration features, only to find them eaten by ad-sponsored cloud offerings. Well, there's another parallel here that's as instructive as Swiss Army knives.

I started using Microsoft Office decades ago and faithfully updated the product, providing me with the latest stuff and Microsoft with a new revenue stream. Then out came various open-source office tools. Then came Google Docs, a cloud-hosted solution. So what do I use now? Microsoft Office and Office 365. Why? Because none of the free or cheaper stuff has all the features I need. I have spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations that (even at my pathetic level of skills) are apparently too complicated for these competitive tools to even open correctly. How many spreadsheets and presentations would I have to redo before I'd eat up the cost of Office? Until somebody can match Office features, Microsoft owns my desktop productivity business. That would work for UC/UCC too, if we can find the right hook.

And we can. We're entering a mobile age, a time when workers carry an appliance with them everywhere they go, and expect to be able to draw on contextual information to support not their "job" in an abstract sense, but what they're doing right then, right there--contextual empowerment. That is a completely new problem, one that could justify a completely new model of communications and collaboration in itself. Add to that the fact that all these workers are now attuned to social network practices more so than to voice calling and you have a demand-side revolution.

Right now, with this revolution just climbing out to man the barricades, even old-line voice vendors have a chance to come up with that perfect toolkit, the collection of features that will not only set expectations but form worker behavior patterns, just as Excel and PowerPoint shaped my work, and yours. If they do that now, while the market is malleable, they can own a franchise as durable as Office's has been - own it even against the competition of the cloud and giants like Google.

The problem is that this wonderful opportunity is transient. Suppose Google Docs and OpenOffice had been available when I did my first spreadsheet or presentation? You can work with those tools, but you can't quite work the same way. When you have no preconceived way you expect to work, you'd take the cheapest and easiest path. If the voice giants of yesterday wait long enough, we'll have a bunch of low-cost, social-based tools that will handle contextual UC/UCC well enough. Those tools will get socialized, learned, and become entrenched. Then there will be no place, literally, to go for the UC/UCC traditionalists.

UC/UCC is on track to be subducted into multiple windows and social behaviors. The classic vision has led incumbents to fritter away real feature differentiation opportunity to focus on doing something nobody needs--integrate into a Swiss Army knife that devices have long-since created. It's time to look instead for specialized tool opportunities compelling enough to bet on...not just to change the game but to save it.





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.