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Alcatel Lucent Enterprise Says Goodbye PC, and Hello PC

Welcome to the new PC era! This is how Alcatel-Lucent's Xavier Martin welcomed the industry analysts at the recent Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Analyst Conference, held in Annapolis, MD. PC, however, does not mean Personal Computer--Martin was welcoming us to the new "Personal Cloud" era. As Martin quoted Winston Churchill, "This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But this is perhaps the end of the beginning. Welcome to the new PC era. PC is no longer the personal computer, but the personal cloud." According to Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALUE), we're exiting the era where the device was at the center of everything, and are now in the personal cloud era, where users can consume communications in a different way.

One thing was very clear--2012 was a year of transition for ALU Enterprise--a new CEO at Alcatel-Lucent corporate, the divesting of Genesys Labs (or as ALUE President Michel Emelianoff referred to it--the Genesys carve out), a new contact center OEM partner, a big focus on the cloud, and more. With a new CEO, the fate of ALU Enterprise is currently uncertain. We don't know at this time whether the Enterprise Division will continue on the same path it's been on, or will be spun off and sold. That being said, for Emelianoff and everyone else at ALUE, it's business as usual.

Financially, 2012 was a year that ALUE would like to forget. Emelianoff referred to it as "annus horribilis"--a horrible year. ALUE saw a big decline in its revenues, primarily based on the poor European economic conditions. There were some bright spots, including China and Australia, but in general, it was not one for the memory books.

The Genesys "carve out" appears to have gone well, and ALUE has generated three new releases of its OpenTouch product, which uses elements and source code from Genesys. ALUE is now fully separate from Genesys and is no longer tied to any technological dependency. The company can evolve its solution without any restriction/intellectual property issue.

ALUE also found a new dance partner for the contact center--Altitude Software. Several people I spoke with noted that the new relationship is going very well, partly because of the similarities in corporate culture. Like ALU, Altitude is a European company, based in Lisbon, Portugal, which means that in addition to cultural similarities, the companies are in the same time zone, which makes working together and getting support much easier.

As we move to the personal cloud era, ALU Enterprise's strategy is to accompany users on the journey by:

* Delivering a new communications experience with a "brilliant user experience," moving from connectivity to "collaborative conversation;"

* Delivering on technology at the infrastructure level, including network virtualization; and

* Shifting to the cloud, with new delivery models. A lot of time was spent discussing ALUE's cloud offers and strategy. The company wants to be a "cloud enabler," enabling an ecosystem of partners to transition to the cloud. It created a segmented offer, with three different offerings, taking into account the diversity of its partners, in order for the partners to take a position in the cloud.

The "brilliant user experience" is based on ALUE's new OpenTouch platform, and the OpenTouch Conversation client. OpenTouch is what ALUE describes as a "Polymorphic platform"--a hybrid cloud modular architecture with a decoupling of elements. OpenTouch Conversation--the OpenTouch client--provides user access from any device or media. I got to see a demo of OpenTouch Conversation for iPad, and it was quite impressive, with a nice user interface that seems very easy to use, allowing users to switch from one media to another, and one device to another, with no interruption and without losing the context.

The OpenTouch Conversation experience can be overlaid on any existing telephony infrastructure--whether ALUE's OmniPCX Enterprise (OXE) or OmniPCX Office (OXO), or any third-party PBX. OpenTouch has been gaining traction, although growth was stifled, in part due to the economy. There are now over 300 OpenTouch customer organizations, with over 50,000 end users. ALUE has also increased channel readiness for OpenTouch, with 2,500 partner engineers now trained for OpenTouch solutions.

ALU Enterprise laid out a good vision and roadmap for the future. Let's hope that the new corporate leadership sees the value in the enterprise division and gives it the backing and support--including financial support--that it needs to thrive.