Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>

Michael Finneran | September 29, 2015 |


Mobile UC: The 'Power Liftgate' of Mobility

Mobile UC: The 'Power Liftgate' of Mobility Some UC functions make for great demos, but don’t provide much in the way of real value or convenience and so are easily forgotten.

Some UC functions make for great demos, but don’t provide much in the way of real value or convenience and so are easily forgotten.

Last fall we bought my wife a new car, one with all of the electronic bells and whistles. Obviously it syncs our phone contacts over Bluetooth and allows for hands-free calling, and it even has a button on the steering wheel that lets us give commands to Siri. However, the one feature that bowled us over was the power trunk.

I'd seen a power liftgate feature on SUVs, but not on sedans. So when the salesman showed us how the power trunk worked on the car we were looking at, we immediately thought it was the coolest thing ever. If your arms are full and you need to get into the trunk, he explained, you can kick your foot under a certain spot on the rear bumper and the trunk opens automatically! If your arms are full with stuff you took out of the trunk, you can kick your foot under the same spot and the trunk will close.

As the salesman showed us how to use this neat feature, my wife and I were like kids on Christmas morning, taking turns practicing our kicks -- we were delighted. But fast-forward a year, and we probably haven't used the power trunk trick but twice.

So it goes with things that make for great demos -- on most days, they don't provide much in the way of real value or convenience, and you forget about them. I know I'd all but forgotten about this feature, even though we'd been so keen on it, until last night when I saw a TV ad for another manufacturer's power liftgate. We both use the talk-to-Siri feature and a bunch of other neat capabilities the car has all the time, but the trunk open/close feature... not at all.

What we have seen with mobile UC, particularly the variety that involves putting a client on the user's smartphone, is that it results in a less convenient way for users to make phone calls. Clearly the mobile client is one of the must-sees in any system demo, but the evaluation team rarely thinks through the likelihood of people actually using it. What we see time and time again is that people try it once (if that), determine that it doesn't make their lives any easier, and go back to making their mobile calls they way they always have done. This mirrors a theme we have seen across the mobile universe: "No value equals no usage."

In talking last week with Ed Wright, ShoreTel's director of product management, I heard a different view. He insisted ShoreTel's mobile app has some useful capabilities, particularly the click-to-join meeting function. I didn't want to ruin his day, but I use Skype for Business and I have a click-to-join capability in all of my Skype for Business invites and I can use it in either my Outlook or iCal calendars. What's more, I get Microsoft's wideband IP voice for the audio rather than a crummy PSTN connection like the one on which we were talking. I do have the Lync mobile app on my iPhone and iPad, but I don't think I've ever used it -- another "power liftgate."

I will give ShoreTel credit for one aspect of its mobility initiative. We in the mobile space have known for years that one of the keys to success is embedding analytics within a mobile app so usage can be monitored and measured. I was listening to a rebroadcast webinar by Van Baker, research VP at Gartner, on Best Practices in Mobile Development yesterday, and he made a major point of stressing the importance of embedding analytics in any mobile app to understand key features and usage patterns. The developer can then use that intelligence to guide development of new features and enhancements in the app. ShoreTel is the only mobile UC provider I've seen that is actually making use of analytics in its mobile app. I don't know if it will get ShoreTel a better adoption rate for its UC client than anyone else, but at least it's trying.

Despite the depressing reality, the UC vendors keep trumpeting the "importance of mobility" in UC, and the lemmings of the analyst community feel compelled to repeat the chant like a good round of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Even Gartner, an organization for which I have the utmost respect, is caught up in the delusion. In this year's Magic Quadrant for UC the Gartner analysts wrote, "... we again place extra weight on mobility as it remains a key differentiator and requirement." Can you pass the Kool-Aid?

In all fairness, legacy telephone systems have for decades included hundreds of features nobody ever used, so I guess it's only right that we continue this tradition as we evolve to UC. The big thing is, they didn't charge for these features, so nobody cared. Of course, in the product evaluation, we checked off all of those boxes but assigned zero weight to those meaningless features.

So the reasonable guidance would be, make sure the solution has single-number reach (the one mobility feature users actually value), make sure the other mobility stuff is free, check off the box, value it at zero -- and enjoy the demo.

Follow Michael Finneran on Twitter and Google+!
Michael Finneran on Google+


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

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.