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Point-Counterpoint: Is UC Brash and Disruptive? You'll See!

In our last weekly UC Newsletter/No Jitter blog, Fred Knight challenged our industry to be "brash and disruptive" as a reflection on the recent changes at Google. Seems the Google board wasn't satisfied with the pace of change so realigned the executive team. In a reference to a Tim Beyers' post on the topic, Fred asked all of us to consider whether we are satisfied with the pace of change in enterprise communications, and specifically with Unified Communications.

Fred wrote, "But if it's not clear whether Beyers has read Google's tea leaves correctly, the thrust of his argument rings true for Unified Communications. The market wants more from UC, which seems stuck like the Internet was pre-Google: Immensely promising but immensely frustrating."

Here's a different perspective: The only parts of UC that are not delivering brash and disruptive change are those parts that are nothing more than re-branding of telephony, IP telephony and SIP trunks as Unified Communications. And you will see what I mean if you come to Enterprise Connect Orlando 2011, about three weeks from now. Let's look at some evidence.

1. New business solutions are being delivered. We at have consistently defined UC as, "communications integrated to optimize business processes." That definition demands change, even disruptive change, to earn the label of UC. It is a definition that is tested by the magnitude of the results, not by the size of the marketing budgets. As part of the UC track at Enterprise Connect, "Comparing UC Options: Who’s Offering What?" on Tuesday, March 1, includes twelve leading vendors showing how they are using new UC technologies to transform business results. We asked each vendor to bring one or two case studies to prove their UC points, and you will actually see and hear 28 cases--not just 12, but 28. Some are more disruptive than others, but you will see business improvement in all of them.

2. Media transformation is disruptive, like it or not. In 2009, the daily communications traffic in North America showed massive shifts away from (IP) PBX-based telephone calls (down to 3 billion per day) to cell phone calls (4 billion), to e-mail (50 billion non-SPAM), to instant messaging/IM (46 billion), and to Facebook chats (1 billion). Of course, there are Tweets and other options, too. The number of video calls was not measured, but, as some say, "video is the new voice" and will continue to replace the pure voice traffic. Thus, the focus has shifted to the new platforms that are supporting these media. Every keynote speaker in Orlando will highlight significant disruptive moves to catch these trends--Microsoft and Skype are known to be disruptive, but come and see what Avaya, Cisco and HP are doing, too.

3. Video is the new voice, but UC is the new methodology. No doubt that video is the buzz in the industry. Consumer video apps are not business solutions, but they are disrupting everything from entertainment to learning to travel to medicine. When enterprises adopt these video tools, it is definitely disruptive to the infrastructure, requiring anywhere from 2 to 50 times the bandwidth of a voice call. You will see that UC comes to the rescue! First, UC can be a methodology to identify where video will make a difference in an enterprise: no difference, no video investment. Second, UC systems are the best way to get video to your organization’s desktops, where it can be easily applied to the business process improvement. There's a Video and Collaboration track for more detail.

4. Mobility is the new office. Enterprise Connect will show you some pretty innovative ways to move your office number to your mobile phone, with or without a phone on your desk (if you still have a desk). No need to say more, since there will be an entire track on Mobility at Enterprise Connect.

You'll want to be in Orlando from February 28-March 3 to judge for yourself. Is Fred right to say that UC is "stuck"? Or is there really a lot of innovation going on, beyond the IP PBX? Hope to see you there.