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Major Leap in UC Applications at VoiceCon Orlando 2009

There's a major shift in the Unified Communications visible here at VoiceCon Orlando 2009. Yes, the UC sessions have been very well attended. And, yes, the suppliers and the customers are reporting great UC progress. But the big news is that in almost all cases, the reports are highlighting the business improvements that came from the UC deployments, in addition to the successful rollout of the technology and the essential cost savings.We have seen this in the keynotes. Avaya reported toll cost savings from the new Avaya Aura, but emphasis was on the customers who are creating new business applications using the new SIP capabilities of Aura, with a great demo of Crutchfield marketing and selling technology through Facebook linked to video customer care agents. Cisco opened with the importance of the network as the enabler of collaboration, then added proof points of improved health care access and physician interaction, as well as emphasizing the millions of dollars in business value created via collaboration tools within Cisco itself.

Microsoft had four customers on stage, and all of them reported both cost saving and business benefits, such as shorter sales cycles, faster response center problem resolution, and better global decision making speed and effectiveness. IBM emphasized collaboration effectiveness as well, resulting in faster time to market at Colgate Palmolive, for example.

The customer keynotes on Tuesday had similar emphasis. Duke University certainly highlighted major cost savings in their campus infrastructure by upgrading to Cisco IP telephony (Cisco Unified Communications), and then featured the ability to improve care delivery through improved notification and collaboration for caregivers, as well as the ability to support their goal of globalization of higher-education delivery, especially for their business school. Kraft Foods described a breakthrough in virtual team collaboration that absolutely cut their costs of travel and facilities, yet more importantly enabled faster time to market and an even more effective collaborative culture at Kraft.

The breakouts echoed this theme. Jim Burton, the moderator of the UC Leadership Roundtable, asked the panelists if their companies were primarily delivering UC-User Productivity (UC-U) applications that basically helped the individual users work more effectively or UC-Business Process (UC-B) applications that delivered enterprise value by changing the communications flow or effectiveness. Alcatel-Lucent highlighted an emergency notification application that was solving a critical business problem. Avaya highlighted both customer service and hospitality applications, such as service delivery and revenue enhancement in a luxury hotel. Mitel highlighted "first contact resolution" by enabling interaction with physicians in a large, multi-site health care clinic when the physicians are in transit between patients or clinic locations. Microsoft described the major improvements in speed of resolution in the Global Crossing network support center. All of these had hard-dollar cost savings aspects, but the theme was clearly that business processes were being improved through UC.

Finally, on Wednesday AM, the panel on "Communications-Enabled Applications" featured a major transformation and four-hour acceleration of patient discharge via Nortel IVR at Orlando Health; the delivery of information and instructional activities to students via iPhones and iPod Touch wireless units via Alcatel-Lucent MyTeamwork tools, to improve services and student enrollments/retention (read lower cost and higher revenues) at Abilene Christian University; and the delivery of expert banking services, such as a mortgage loan officer interaction, directly to 20 branch banks at SunTrust Bank, using Cisco Unified Communications to provide immediate customer support and, consequently increase revenues while lowering expert travel costs.

This is all fabulous news, because it is proving, three years later, the value and realization of the value of Unified Communications, which we define as "communications integrated to optimize business processes." These proof points will be leading the way for at least the next decade, since there are so many business processes, in every industry, that are just begging for UC improvements. I hope you are here at VoiceCon Orlando 2009 to see all this in person. If not, then stay tuned as we report more results, and start your justification process now to come to VoiceCon San Francisco 2009, November 2-5. I look forward to seeing you there!