SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Zeus Kerravala | October 28, 2014 |

 
   

Unify's Circuit Enables a New Way of Working

Unify's Circuit Enables a New Way of Working After long last, we finally get to see what Unify has been working on for these past couple of years. Circuit is certainly different and is an enabler of shifting the way people work.

After long last, we finally get to see what Unify has been working on for these past couple of years. Circuit is certainly different and is an enabler of shifting the way people work.

Today Unify, the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise, finally took the covers off the product it has been developing under the code name of Project Ansible. The application, now known as Circuit, is the culmination of two years of intense research and development, and it promises to change the way people work. We in the analyst community had the opportunity try out Circuit at Unify's annual Global Analyst Summit last week in Phoenix.

I first downloaded Circuit to my iPhone rather than my Macbook, as I believe the value of a UC client is measured by its usability on a mobile device. No disrespect meant to all the vendors that have put work into developing rich desktop clients but it's been my belief that mobile UC provides much greater bang for the buck. Having non-unified communications tools is awkward on a desktop but isn't the end of the world. However, on a mobile device it's extremely time consuming to continually be switching between applications, so a robust mobile UC client can provide tremendous value.

Read more on Unify's Circuit:

On the surface, Circuit looks like many of the other mobile UC clients. Unify touts the application as a "single pane of glass," which is one of the most over-used terms in our industry today. However, Circuit does live up to the promise of a single pane of glass as it brings together not only communications applications such as voice and video but also text messaging, screen sharing and even content sharing.

While the unified client is nice, I don't believe that's the true differentiator for Circuit. After using the application, I thought the contextual search capability was the most interesting feature of the product.

When I first logged into Circuit, I immediately noticed there was no contact list in the interface. This is something that we've all become accustomed to whether we're using Lync, Jabber, Skype, Google Chat or any number of other UC clients. No matter which client you're using, it seems there's always that list of contacts that shows everyone's presence status. At first it was odd to not have it, but then I spent a bit of time with the application and I realized Unify is truly trying to promote a new way of working.

The application is driven by contextual search of all of the existing "conversations." In Circuit, a conversation is defined as a unique thread that has every comment, document or other information relevant to the conversation. For example, if I wanted to start a thread with the No Jitter audience on how UC should be defined, I could start it, include other analysts and maybe a document or two I wrote that includes my definition of UC. Then, other users can comment, include their own files that are related to the topic. Any user at a later date that then searches on any term in the thread or any user that contributed will see this conversation.

Without using it, this might be a bit hard to envision. A good analogy is the difference in how Google Mail works versus a more traditional client like Outlook. Outlook and other mail clients are "message centric," where every email is its own unique item. I can sort by date, user or subject. Google Mail, however, is conversation based. You can't sort on a user or a date like you can in Outlook. Instead you "search" on a contextual term that can help only display the conversations related to that term.

When I first started using Google Mail, I thought it was awkward to use, but now that I've become more accustomed to it, I find the contextual search based mail platform to be much more powerful than the traditional client. Why? Well, because it addresses the new way I work. I need to find information faster and more accurately than before, and the context-based search of conversations meets that goal better than legacy platforms. Twitter works this way, too. There's really too many people in Twitter to even try to be user centric. Rather, a search is done and all relevant threads are displayed. Circuit works exactly that way.

The challenge I see for Unify is getting users to think differently about how they work. We've all grown accustomed to our UC systems being user-based so a conversation-based one might seem foreign to workers. Like I said, I had this reaction to Google Mail, but once I got used to it, I found it much more powerful. For Unify to be successful with Circuit, the company will need to find specific processes than can be improved through the conversation-based approach. I'd also like to see Circuit become a set of capabilities and "snap-ins" that can be dropped into other applications to augment the current client. Lastly, I think the company should take a "mobile first" strategy. When mobile, workers need to be able to find information faster and the single pane of glass combined with the contextual search can do that.

After long last, we finally get to see what Unify has been working on for these past couple of years. Circuit is certainly different and is an enabler of shifting the way people work. To be fully leveraged, workers must stop thinking about how they worked in the past, but more about how they use social platforms and the importance of context. Only that will unleash the full potential of the application.

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
@zkerravala
Zeus Kerravala on Google+





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.