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Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
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Beth Schultz | March 31, 2015 |

 
   

Enterprise Communications: What's on Your Mind

Enterprise Communications: What's on Your Mind In a recent focus group, No Jitter readers share their biggest pain points.

In a recent focus group, No Jitter readers share their biggest pain points.

To take the pulse of enterprise communications decision-makers, we recently gathered a group of No Jitter readers and Enterprise Connect attendees to join us for a discussion on their biggest challenges and watch points. Particular technology interests varied, with topics such as SIP trunking, video collaboration, and WebRTC popping into the conversation. But as each participant aired his or her most pressing concerns, three central themes emerged.

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The themes are not new, to be sure. But they're significant nonetheless in the consistency across industry and company size represented. The dozen or so IT executives we gathered in Orlando, coincident with Enterprise Connect 2015, hail from organizations large and small in a variety of verticals, including education, oil and gas, healthcare and retail. Interestingly, quite a few of the participants were first-time Enterprise Connect attendees -- a fact I took as a sign of the increasing complexity of enterprise communications and the need for expert and peer insight in dealing with today’s challenges.

The themes were:

  • The Cisco-Microsoft war wages on, no holds barred as companies plan their next-generation communications strategies. As one focus group participant noted, you might even call the fighting “bloody” between those who favor a Cisco Jabber decision and those who want to go with Microsoft Lync (now Skype for Business). The issues are familiar -- not that that makes them any less challenging. Cisco gear drives the enterprise data network, which also supports voice and video conferencing given its IP base. But Microsoft software dominates the desktop, with the Lync client providing the entry point for instant messaging, presence, and, in some cases, content sharing and conferencing. While some of the focus group participants were still grappling over the decision, others have committed to either Cisco or Microsoft, depending on what works best for their particular situations.
  • It's a multivendor world, and nothing plays all that well together. You've got your Cisco network and your Microsoft desktop, as noted above. Toss in some Avaya and ShoreTel phone systems here and there, sprinkle in myriad enterprise software and email packages (one participant even said his users still relied heavily on Lotus Notes), and then take into consideration what you've got on premises and provisioned from the cloud. More often than not, this crazy mishmash and worse is the reality with which IT must contend. As one participant said, you can't simply wish any of these huge investments away, and as another noted, vendors are "too myopically focused … on the cool things they can do" rather than on what customers really need them to do. The Holy Grail of interoperability remains elusive, another added.
  • Users come in all shapes and sizes, figuratively speaking, of course. Not every company is a Silicon Valley startup populated with hip, digital-savvy Gen-Yers who have mobile phones within their palms virtually 24/7. Corporate reality is far more varied, and oftentimes quite mundane. Store cashiers don't need mobile connectivity. CEOs can't be interrupted during business meetings -- say with investors -- by a constant barrage of IMs. Members of this team need to gather via video meetings because they're are located in different places, while members of this team don't as they're all in one location. Creating a technology matrix that lets IT match user profiles to tools required has worked for at least one participant, who noted few exceptions since implementing this system. Another participant said his company has created collaboration advisory groups with business users to positive effect.

Do these themes resonant with you? What would you add? Share below!

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