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The Election and UC--Redux
The first UC eWeekly I wrote two years ago was entitled "The Election and UC--What Do They Have in Common," and I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this topic since the election is less than a month away (the earlier article can be found here. Hopefully my political leanings and bias won't taint this analysis, so let's just have fun with this timely comparison.
The first UC eWeekly I wrote two years ago was entitled "The Election and UC--What Do They Have in Common," and I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this topic since the election is less than a month away (the earlier article can be found here. Hopefully my political leanings and bias won't taint this analysis, so let's just have fun with this timely comparison.There are several key themes of this year's presidential election that resonate in the UC market. We've been hearing a lot about "change," "reform" and "mavericks." The idea of change is important in the UC world also--UC changes the way we communicate with colleagues, partners, customers and suppliers. The role of PBX/IP-PBX is changing, as are the roles traditional telephony vendors play in a UC world.
Microsoft and others have shaken things up, noting that a switch is no longer necessary for enterprise telephony and that a software-based solution can provide the call control and voice capabilities most enterprises and SMBs need. Is Microsoft the "maverick"?
The other issue we're hearing a lot about in the election is "experience," and the traditional switch vendors clearly have the experience in the voice world that Microsoft and other newcomers lack. Experience is important, in both politics and communications, but, as one of the presidential candidates often reminds us, judgment is more important. In politics this may be the case, but might it also be true for enterprise communications?
Microsoft, for example, acknowledges that OCS is not an IP-PBX but goes on to claim that it is a new way of communicating and collaborating. Its competitors claim that Microsoft doesn't have the telephony experience needed to provide the features and functionality or reliability that customers need. Meanwhile, Cisco has deep network experience, but wants to have a prominent place on the desktop and in collaboration solutions.
Politicians surround themselves with advisors (and running mates) with experience in the areas that they lack. Along these same lines, vendors either acquire companies (Cisco with WebEx) and/or work with partners such as system producers (e.g., Microsoft with Nortel) and with systems integrators and VARs that have the experience needed to round out the "ticket." UC customers and voters will have to decide who provides the change they need, while providing the experience and/or judgment they want.
Both presidential candidates are trying to reach out to younger voters with the mantra of change. They realize that these voters carry a lot of weight, and it's crucial to get the youth vote.
Enterprises are also catering to "the youth vote" by implementing collaboration and social networking technologies that younger workers use in their personal lives and expect to have access to in their professional lives and at their jobs. Many companies are using UC technologies to attract and retain younger workers--web and video conferencing, collaboration tools and Web 2.0 technologies. The latter isn't UC per se, but some Web 2.0 technologies are being integrated with the real-time communication capabilities, such as click-to-connect. By providing the tools that younger workers come to expect, companies have a better chance of attracting and retaining them.
And as I wrote in my original newsletter--your choices need to reflect your goals. In politics, your goals may be to reduce taxes or improve the environment. In the UC world, your goals may be to enhance workgroup productivity, improve customer service or shorten development cycles. Vote for your politician or UC provider based on who will help you best reach your goals now and in the future.
Lastly, get out there and do something--if you haven't already, start developing your UC strategy now, and get educated about the options that are available to you and your company. And don't forget to vote!