SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Michael Finneran | March 07, 2017 |

 
   

IoT in UC: Nothing More Than a Buzzword?

IoT in UC: Nothing More Than a Buzzword? Call me a party pooper, but I just don't see a major role for UC suppliers in the Internet of Things ecosystem -- yet.

Call me a party pooper, but I just don't see a major role for UC suppliers in the Internet of Things ecosystem -- yet.

UC marketing people love buzzwords. Well I guess all marketing people love buzzwords, but UC marketing people like them so much they'll even latch on to buzzwords that have nothing to do with what they're selling. I've seen this before, so I'm always on the lookout for references to irrelevant buzzwords, and I'm starting to wonder if we're not seeing this scenario play out again with all the UC vendor noise around the Internet of Things, or IoT.

The idea of IoT or having intelligent devices and supervisory systems operating over communications links has been around for a long time, but it's about to launch into the stratosphere due to a confluence of technical developments. My first encounter with this idea came in working on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems early in my career. We used these things to monitor and control pipelines, remote pumping stations, electrical substations, and lots of other industrial applications all connected over low-speed teletype circuits.

In those early SCADA systems, the remote terminals were relatively low-tech (do you know what a "contact closure" is?), the networks low-capacity, the supervisory systems rudimentary, and things couldn't move around because they were all connected by wires. Still it beat the heck out of sending a guy 50 miles in a truck to reset a circuit breaker or close a valve.

As I said, a number of converging factors are reinforcing the idea that IoT's time has come. Certainly low-cost processors and components like accelerometers and GPS receivers whose costs have been driven down by the smartphone revolution play a role, but key among these is the range of wireless network technologies. Those would include familiar technologies like 3G/4G cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, but the list is growing by the day.

New entrants include 5G (that will support a 10x increase in device density over 4G), Bluetooth Mesh, Wi-Fi HaLow, and cellular-based NarrowBand IoT. We could also mention beacons and indoor location capabilities like Wi-Fi Certified Location, which will integrate location capabilities into access points without the use of separate location appliances.

Beyond all the technical elements, however, is imagination. Tech savants are dreaming up services and capabilities that incorporate IoT at a pace akin to what we have seen in the mobile app and social media industries (have you been following Snap's IPO?).

While I see tremendous opportunities for network service providers, smartphone apps, IoT terminal devices, and the back-office control systems to power all of this, what I don't see is a major role for UC suppliers. One of my colleagues recently suggested that maybe an IoT building monitoring system might trigger phone calls to alert personnel to a condition that requires immediate attention. I responded that I think a text or an alert on a dashboard would be a more likely scenario, and in any event, I don't think checking your voicemail for fire alarms would be very productive -- nobody checks voicemail, especially if they smell smoke.

However, a lack of a clear path to any meaningful product is never a deterrent to UC marketing types; if "IoT" is a hot acronym, it runs on page one above the fold. Rowan Trollope, who headed Cisco's Collaboration Group, is now SVP & GM - Internet of Things (IoT) and Applications Division at Cisco Systems. In Cisco's defense, at least it makes WLAN products (two different flavors) and other hardware devices, and last year it bought Jasper Technologies, which makes an industry-leading IoT service platform for enterprises and service providers. And some of its newer collaboration tools, like the Spark Board, incorporate IoT-like capabilities.

I'm not sure what the rest of the UC guys intend to bring to the table. IoT really doesn't have a lot to do with phones, and phones seem to be the center of the universe for too many of them.

I've been through this before, so I'm particularly sensitive to the idea of marketing as the process of touting great ideas that have nothing to do with a company. I'm talking about a replay of what we've seen happen with mobile UC. For years, every UC speaker had to tell us how great the iPhone was and how users were wild about the interface Apple created; I assume Apple appreciated the plugs, but it never gave kudos to UC vendors (i.e., "Sorry, but do I know you?"). All of that was true, of course, but that didn't help them sell those dopey mobile UC apps they were peddling!

Ironically, we now have Apple's CallKit, which will allow mobile UC vendors to build a decent user interface using the iPhone's native dialer. Brent Kelly of KelCor and I just finished a survey of CallKit-based mobile UC apps, and guess what: Of the old-line UC vendors, only Cisco, Microsoft, and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise even have a CallKit-based mobile UC app, and only Cisco's scored among the leaders! Which vendors are adopting CallKit? Two-thirds of the CallKit adopters were newer UCaaS providers like RingCentral, 8x8, Fuze, and Vonage (powered by BroadSoft). You can also add Facebook and WhatsApp to that list, but what would you expect?

Well I guess the legacy UC camp doesn't need CallKit, because it's on to the new bandwagon -- not that the bandwagon will notice anyone playing off key. The reason I'm watching this is that later this month, at Enterprise Connect, I'll be hosting a panel on IoT featuring representatives from AT&T, Miercom, NEC, and Mitel. (By the way, Brent and I will be reviewing the results of that CallKit survey I mentioned in a session we're co-moderating, "Optimizing Apple in Your Enterprise." )

For the moment, I'm reserving judgment on whether IoT is something real in UC or just another attempt to jump on a bandwagon where the UC vendors have nothing to contribute. I'll wait until I hear what our panelists have to say. I know that AT&T already has 10s of millions of IoT devices connected, and NEC has a lot of IoT initiatives scattered across the different business units and branded its artificial intelligence technologies NEC the Wise, but it's hard to see where the UC offerings might fit in.

So when the UC vendors want to bend your ear about IoT, ask how their mobile initiatives are doing.

Learn more about mobility trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2017, March 27 to 30, in Orlando, Fla. View the Mobility track, and register now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event or Tue-Thu Conference pass or get a free Expo Plus pass.

Follow Michael Finneran on Twitter and Google+!
@dBrnWireless
Michael Finneran on Google+





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!

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

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

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.