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"Openness" in Unified Communications

As I said, it's a pretty cool-sounding feature, being able to scan a bar code and find the person who can answer questions about that product. Seems like a great definition of a key benefit of UC.

But the thing is, the Avaya application, called Specialist Connect for Retailers, only talks to Avaya's Communications Manager IP-PBX, according to Marissa Russotto of Avaya. This raises two points:

1.) How exactly does this vision of UC differ from the days of 500-feature checkoff lists for TDM PBXs?

2.) If the eventual model is that apps like this one get built by a third party and can connect into multiple vendors' IP-PBXs, will the IP-PBX vendors really go along with that?

Maybe the idea here is for companies like Avaya and others to seed the market with applications they build in-house that work with their IP-PBXs, as a sort of proof-of-concept/proof of value, to encourage third-party developers to see this as a market worth pursuing. A version of the new Avaya app that talks to all of your IP-PBXs, no matter who the vendor is, would be a lot more appealing to retail chains that have a habit of acquiring one another.

But long term, I don't see the argument for thinking that applications like Specialist Connect for Retailers are where the real money is for companies like Avaya. In an open world, vendor-neutral third-party apps will win, and in a closed world, I wouldn't think enterprises will sit still for buying separate vendors' renditions of the same capability, priced as value-added software rather than as commodity features, a la the infamous 500 in the TDM world.