SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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 >>
SHARE



Jim Burton | October 25, 2016 |

 
   

Can Watson Help IBM Put New Face on UC?

Can Watson Help IBM Put New Face on UC? Leveraging its cognitive smarts, IBM is teaming with communications companies like Genband to elevate its stature in enterprise collaboration.

Leveraging its cognitive smarts, IBM is teaming with communications companies like Genband to elevate its stature in enterprise collaboration.

When Microsoft and Cisco each announced their intentions of entering the then newly defined space called unified communications some 10 years ago, IBM already had a compelling product on the market: Sametime. So why isn't this technology giant a major UC player today? First let me provide some history and then a look at why things may be about to change.

When Sametime hit the market, it was already ahead of the planned UC tools from Microsoft and Cisco when it came to most features and capabilities -- with the exception of one critically important component, call control (PBX features). IBM had some good reasons for not building in the critical call control component, but its decision not to do so ultimately limited Sametime's success.

portable

Most longtime No Jitter readers will remember that at the time, IBM had already failed at several PBX initiatives, including those coming from its acquisition of Rolm (later sold to Siemens, now Unify). Based on that history, IBM was reluctant to try entering the PBX space again. Less known is that some reticence stemmed from IBM's concern about getting into the PBX business and upsetting major partners Cisco and Avaya, together which represented billions of dollars in revenue for other IBM divisions. Another issue at that time was IBM's strategic focus on other areas, diverting attention and resources that otherwise would have helped keep Sametime competitive.

The best example here is the lack of a comprehensive go-to-market strategy for Sametime. IBM never developed a channel strategy for Sametime period, let alone worked to develop converged voice/data channel partners. This left the sales responsibility to an IBM sales organization that had no incentive to sell the Sametime product, since it could sell existing products (Lotus Notes, for example) instead. In addition, the sales organization had no interest in learning a new product and a new market. As a result, Sametime was left to twist in the breeze, as they say.

Over the past 10 years, IBM has worked on several communications and collaboration solutions that have been ahead of their competition, but they have always missed an important component and often lacked a strategy to help them compete in the UC space. This could all be changing. IBM is now leveraging its Watson cognitive computing platform and the IBM Connections Cloud in partnering with other vendors to add additional features, services and, most importantly, distribution for its integrated suite of collaboration solutions.

One of those partners is Genband, which as announced yesterday is providing cloud-based PBX and video capabilities for IBM Connections and Sametime. At long last, IBM can offer a highly reliable and scalable call control solution to augment Sametime.

Genband also brings Kandy, its communications platform as a service (CPaaS) offering, to the table. This rich, extensible CPaaS platform will help partners and even customers integrate communications into many different business processes. Genband and IBM even have a website that covers their joint solution, called Realtime Connections Client.

As mentioned earlier, go-to-market strategy has been an ongoing challenge for IBM in the UC space. But with Genband, which sells to global carriers and service providers and, through channel partners, to enterprises, IBM may finally have solved this problem. The joint offering is an option for service providers that may be looking for alternative solutions to compliment or replace UC solutions based on Cisco or Microsoft, for example.

The other part of this puzzle is Watson, IBM's natural language artificial intelligence capability -- and Jeopardy champion. Watson has opened other distribution opportunities for IBM, and companies that have integrated Watson into business processes are now potential channels for it.

Analytics are hot, and it looks like IBM got into this just at the right time.





COMMENTS



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!

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

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

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 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.