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Alcatel-Lucent - Unified Communications, Enterprise 2.0, and More

Here's a brief rundown of some of the things that caught my attention. Enterprise 2.0 was a hot topic. ALU's COO for the Enterprise Business Group, Tom Burns, discussed the importance of connecting people and knowledge, noting that 80% of knowledge is inaccessible, and that people need to exchange knowledge and information on a real-time basis. Tom noted that the Dynamic Enterprise (which ALU introduced earlier this year) and Web/Enterprise 2.0 technologies will bring knowledge inside the enterprise in real time. For example, the University of Pittsburg Medical Center is using ALU's technology to connect doctors to the operating room and other hospitals around the world in order to train people and share information. (See Sheila's blog here.)

There was also a breakout sessions focused on UC and Enterprise 2.0. Xavier Martin, Head of Strategic Marketing, discussed how the Dynamic Enterprise is about retrieving content and enabling the tacit knowledge of the context. While UC provides the content, (making the implicit information available), it is not as useful for finding the information or context, which is where Enterprise 2.0 comes in. Enterprise 2.0, which includes social software services such as Socialtext, BlueKiwi, Near-time, and Lotus Quickr, provides access to untapped information. While Enterprise 2.0 and social software help you find the person who has information you need, it is not good at enabling you to connect with that person. By bringing together UC and Enterprise 2.0 and combining the connection capabilities of UC and the shared knowledge of social networking, the result is a solution that provides search and connect facilities and a breadth of information and content and context. ALU is working to enable Enterprise 2.0 capabilities with real-time UC capabilities, and is communication-enabling the social networking offerings from BlueKiwi and IBM. While we didn't see any demos of these new UC/Enterprise 2.0 technologies, I expect there will be some shortly. (There's more info on UC and social software here.)

In terms of ALU's UC and collaboration efforts, the company is active on several fronts. David Buckley, Product & Offer Line Director, stated that UC will evolve to be multisession, multimedia, and multi-terminal, while integrating with Enterprise/Web 2.0 technologies. He also discussed ALU's User Profiles - ALU identified several user profiles and bundled UC offerings to match the individual user's communication needs of specific job functions. ALU started with five user profiles, and recently increased this to eight. In addition, ALU is monitoring the trends and is refining the profiles based on customer input. The company is also spending time working with its carrier customers to help them sell the User Profiles to their customers.

A new term that ALU used this week is "Instant Communications" which ties together spontaneous communications and collaboration. ALU introduced the My Instant Communicator (MyIC) client earlier this year, which unifies the access to a variety of UC capabilities, The next step is for the MyIC client to move to mobile devices. Users will be able to access UC services from several supported mobile clients and will be able to do things like access their enterprise directory, see someone's presence status, and initiate a call via their mobile device.

There weren't too many new product announcements on the enterprise side, but there will be several in the first quarter of 2009. ALU still has to flesh out some of the concepts it introduced this week, including the intelligent Customer Front Door (iCFD), and I'd like to see more meat around the UC/Enterprise 2.0 story. In the meantime, ALU presented a good vision and some forward-thinking ideas.