Marty Parker
Marty Parker brings over three decades of experience in both computing solutions and communications technology. Marty has been a...
Read Full Bio >>

Marty Parker | March 29, 2016 |


Connecting UC in the Workplace

Connecting UC in the Workplace With UC maturity comes the impetus to build bridges between communications platforms and business processes, applications, and information.

With UC maturity comes the impetus to build bridges between communications platforms and business processes, applications, and information.

It has always been clear that communications is part of an organization's workflow and service delivery functions. Communications is not an end unto itself, nor something done in isolation from information or procedures.

Yet, the connection of communications functionality to the business or organizational workflows, procedures, and information has come slowly (with the exception of advanced contact centers that have integrated agent desktops). This is surprising, since the connection of communications to business processes was one of the early visions of unified communications, with Gartner naming this as communications-enabled business processes (CEBP) as early as 2003.

Those who understood this opportunity have realized significant benefits as shown in various white papers (here and here, for example) and in presentations at Enterprise Connect and elsewhere.

This slow adoption is likely attributed to the immature state of the UC systems in the period from 2003 to about 2013. However, the industry is now mature, with a few clear leaders in UC system adoption. This maturity of the base UC platforms makes it viable and profitable for developers to build the connectors and bridges between the communications platforms and the business processes, applications, and information.

Now we are finally seeing rapid growth in this area. The system vendors, value-added resellers, and system integrators (SIs) are all investing in software and tools that make it easy to connect a current release UC system to the major software application tools already installed in most business and public sector organizations.

Some examples in various categories include:

  • Email and Instant Messaging - Microsoft Exchange with Outlook is clearly the dominant enterprise email platform -- including contacts and calendar -- with smaller shares held by Google Gmail and IBM Notes. The email vendor usually provides the enterprise IM as well, so we see Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business, Google Messenger, and IBM Sametime/Connections as leaders in this category, too. Essentially all UC vendors now offer a connector from their systems to Exchange and at least IM and presence federation with Lync/Skype for Business.

    A few UC vendors (Cisco with CUCILync, Avaya with Microsoft Lync Integration and Esna, Unify with OpenScape Fusion, et al.) offer plug-ins to provide click-to-call from the Lync/Skype for Business clients already installed on users' computers. However, these plug-ins have had poor acceptance because of their complexity, limitations (e.g., only Windows OS), or intrusiveness that forces the UC vendors' clients onto desktops.

    We are now seeing alternative solutions, such as an economical connector offered by BridgeOC. This tool uses the computer-telephony integration (CTI) services of a Cisco Unified Communications Manager or Cisco Collaboration 10.x and 11.x (Cisco UCM as a group) to provide enhanced Cisco phone presence to the Lync/Skype for Business user as well as click-to-call from the Lync/Skype for Business Windows client with all of the voice calls coming through the user's Cisco desk phone.

  • Office Productivity Software - Of course, Microsoft, Google, and IBM can each assure their customers that their own UC packages will natively integrate well with each of their office productivity suites (Microsoft Office, Google Docs, IBM OpenOffice). Some voice-centric UC vendors also provide connectors or plug-ins that provide presence and click-to-call integration to at least Microsoft Office and, in many cases, Google Docs office productivity software.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Application Packages - This may be the fastest and richest growth area for UC connectivity. We now see an abundance of connectors between leading voice UC platforms from providers such as Cisco, Avaya, Unify, NEC, and Mitel with one or more of the CRM packages like, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and SAP CRM. In most cases, these are provided by well-established SI partners such as Bucher + Suter, Ingenious, SpinSci, and many more.

  • Document Management and Collaborative Workspaces - We are seeing major initiatives and alliances between the voice UC platforms and the groups of applications that support the 10% to 25% of the workforce whose jobs are collaborative in nature, requiring active document sharing and creative project work. Most voice-centric UC providers have connectors to the document storage leaders such as Box. Most also have connectors to the leaders for "social software in the workplace." Some voice-centric UC players have even decided to compete in this space with solutions such as Unify Circuit and Cisco Spark, yet we expect most enterprises will stick with the collaboration platforms they already own and require UC connectors to those.

  • Custom Integrations - Finally, we see a growing capability for easy custom integrations between almost all of the voice-centric UC platforms and business processes or software applications. Essentially all UC vendors are emphasizing the modularized capabilities of their development platforms and are promoting, even providing incentives for, participation in their developer communities. Some SIs, such as CafeX Communications (2016 Best of Enterprise Connect winner) and SpinSci specialize in customizations, some of which they later productize. These initiatives will simply accelerate the acculturation of UC into enterprise workflows and business apps; the best of breed will be promoted into the productized categories as mentioned above.

When these integrations are effectively deployed, an organization can realize benefits in one or more dimensions. In many cases, work is done much more quickly and efficiently, and this often translates into better customer service, lower cost per transaction or per project, greater growth potential, or higher quality and more innovative solutions. If the integration between communications and application technology is well done, the metrics to prove, realize, and manage these benefits can be readily available via management dashboards or reports.

We wish great success to both the enterprises and to their UC vendors in this maturing, "unified" world.


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

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.