Tom Nolle
Tom Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and the principal consultant/analyst. Tom started his career as a...
Read Full Bio >>

Tom Nolle | October 23, 2011 |


What's the "Ideal" UC?

What's the "Ideal" UC? According to users, the heart of Ideal UC is a flexible "connection table", that represents things you can forward or transfer a call to.

According to users, the heart of Ideal UC is a flexible "connection table", that represents things you can forward or transfer a call to.

I blogged earlier this year about how much businesses liked the idea of a future UC based on technology like Skype or Google Voice, and the piece got a lot of response. Some of my own questions related to just what a business might want from such a marriage of technologies, and so I went back and asked businesses what they would like to see. I had 88 responses, and from them I've gleaned a model that I think fairly represents what businesses would like to see.

One thing that came out of the interview process was that while call and message handling isn't glamorous like video or white-board, users rate it as being more important to them. In putting together an Ideal UC, they started with the features that related to managing calls, messages, and events, and then moved to other "rich media" stuff. They expect the greatest integration here, both functionally and at the GUI level. As I reported in an earlier blog, the users are increasingly thinking of UC as an extension of basic VoIP, meaning Skype or Google Voice. It's where and how the two get extended that’s interesting.

According to users, the heart of Ideal UC is a flexible "connection table", something like the list of forwarding numbers that's available in Google Voice. Each of the entries in this connection can represent a wireline phone number, a wireless number, a VoIP username or ID, a VoIP softphone or client instance, a video client, etc. Where a number is identified, the entry can also specify the medium through which the call will be attempted. The idea is that this table represents things that you can forward or transfer a call to. Associated with each entry is a set of rules that govern when the entry is activated. We can call this the Connection Manager.

The second element in the Ideal UC is a list of Alert Sources. These are things that can ring for attention, in a real phone sense, or as an email notification or an IM, but they also include things like calendar notifications/reminders. When something on the "Alert List" signals, the signal is processed against the rules in the connection table, and the alert is handled based on which rule or rules match.

When a user of the Ideal UC gets a call on any of the numbers in the Connection Manager, it processes the rules and potentially rings down on any number of the connections represented; here again it's rather like Google Voice. If a user picks up on something, the system suspends alerting on other channels. If the user wants to switch a call to somewhere else--meaning they want to connect the incoming call to any outbound channel that's in their Connection Manager list--they use a signal or prompt to activate a transfer. Google Voice simply cycles through its list of connections to effect a transfer, but users want more granular functionality—the ability, for example, to dial "*1" for their first connection option, and so forth.

Users want the Ideal UC to function as a call director in an attended environment, so a specific Ideal UC user might get their "calls" largely from another system acting as an attendant, and for this forwarding they'd expect to use a “local” VoIP connection, one that’s a true peer-to-peer connection. A user might have a separate line that would ring around the attendant, and that would be just another entry for the Connection Manager.

VoIP services like Skype and Google Talk are seen as both connection options for call handling and as alert sources, and this would mean either integrating Google Talk and Skype client logic into the Ideal UC via an API, or that Google or Microsoft actually produces the Ideal UC. Here we can see why users tend to say that Skype is their ideal framework for UC; those users believe that since Skype is currently the most flexible VoIP service, it's essential to include it, and they doubt that Microsoft will support the APIs needed to integrate with non-Microsoft products.

Integrating advanced services is seen as being a simpler process than many UC/UCC vendors are assuming. Users see these advanced capabilities either evolving out of a traditional call ("turn on the video or whiteboard") or they saw an enhanced call being made directly with the Skype or Google service if all parties knew from the start that these capabilities were needed. This suggests that complex integration of things like WebEx would not be needed, and I couldn't get good data on whether it was seen as valuable.

In terms of linking the Ideal UC with social networks, users believed that social-network outcalling was simply an activation of one of the VoIP clients available to the Ideal UC, and that an incoming "social network call" is an alert that is processed by rules, just like any other call. Even changes in social-network status could become an "alert" source.

For "non-communications" alerts, including calendar or presence changes for both the user and potentially for other workers, the Ideal UC would let the alert change a status that rules could then test, generate a canned message or email, or both. An example is that if a worker’s desktop presence shows that worker isn't at the desk, a calendar meeting alert could generate an IM reminder. Since this sort of thing can be done with many calendars directly, it's clear the users are making the Ideal UC into a kind of personal clearinghouse of alerts, calls, and actions. That seems to be where they see the greatest value.

So who's there? The users say that neither Skype nor Google Voice/Talk has exactly what they want. Google is closer to the connection manager and Skype offers them better and broader out-call integration with the Ideal UC. Either company could field the solution if they want, and so could every UC vendor. The race may be on, because without this sort of thing UC may face the challenge of being fragmented into disconnected tools, not "unified" at all.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.