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Cisco UC/Contact Center European Update

Sandwiched in between Cisco's UC Summit in San Diego in September and next week's C-Scape, Cisco put on a UC European update call this morning to talk about how UC and contact center sales are faring in the European market. Success in collaboration is not too surprising since they just recently launched their whole collaboration story and push, and have gone through the process of transitioning their UC sales force to one that sells collaboration, UC and contact centers.

However, the proof in the pudding for collaboration over these next months or years of potential cautionary spending will be whether this transformation results in ongoing real dollars as Cisco tries to get companies to invest in collaboration tools--that ostensibly have an ROI story--above and beyond applications that they might have a more immediate need for. No matter how good the product, when companies are being cautious and everyone is selling based on cost reduction there is still only so much money to go around.

To give more weight to the cautionary spending tale, in the contact center portion of the program, Cisco discussed how customer service is high up on the corporate agenda, which is a trend we are all familiar with, along with ROI being imperative. But to back this up, Cisco said that they are doing well with their CUCC Enterprise product, but particularly well with the CUCC Express product, in that Enterprise typically requires board level approval, but the Express product provides the functionality that most companies need, but at a price that can be signed off farther down the corporate food chain. I would like to see if next quarter this still holds true or if more pressure from the economy in Europe forces companies to further tighten up sign-off requirements. We shall see.

Providing more evidence on another trend in contact centers, Cisco also said that they are seeing quite a bit of traction in the hosted and on-demand contact center markets as well. This isn't surprising from two fronts, the general movement towards greater acceptance of hosting and on-demand due to the number of participants in the market talking about it, and the maturation of product offerings, and because of companies avoiding capital equipment expenditures.