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Top 10 No Jitter Posts in 2019

  • No Jitter Top 10 posts for 2019
     
    Vendor strategy, technology migration, video performance, AI-enablement… such were the topics that garnered the top page views on No Jitter in 2019.
     
    Avaya, and questions about its future state, drew big. Half of the top 10 posts, including the number one slot, were about the company and its decision to engage J.P. Morgan to help it find “strategic alternatives.” Announced while reporting the second quarter financial results for fiscal year 2019, the pursuit of a new direction was undertaken with maximizing shareholder value in mind.
     
    Two of the top 10 spots went to posts explaining Microsoft’s strategy for Skype for Business and Teams, and topics such as mobile pricing, video meeting performance, and adding intelligence to IVR landed on the list as one-offs. Click through the slides to see which stories made the list.
  • sand clock
     
    1. Tick, Tock, the Clock Is Running for Avaya — When this article posted on Sept. 6, Avaya CEO Jim Chirico had one week left to meet his self-imposed deadline to share news of how the company might proceed with the strategic alternatives it had begun studying in the spring. Industry watcher Zeus Kerravala, of ZK Research, distilled the rumors circulating about possible outcomes into these three:
     
    1. Avaya does nothing; it remains a public company and operates as it has since it hopped back on the NYSE almost two years ago.
    2. Mitel purchases Avaya and rolls up the company, continuing the consolidation mission of its CEO, Rich McBee.
    3. Avaya goes private. As reported previously on No Jitter, based on a Reuters article, private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice is considering partnering on a bid with UCaaS leader, RingCentral.
     
    By early October, when Avaya and RingCentral announced a strategic UCaaS partnership, it had become clear that none of the options captured quite what the company had in mind (see slides 7 and 9).
  • Skype for Business v. Teams

     

    2. No — Teams Isn’t Next Version of Skype for Business — In introducing its team collaboration app, Teams, back in late 2016, Microsoft set the stage for it to become the UC client of choice over time. In the ensuing couple of years, many enterprise communications leaders who had committed to Skype for Business for UC found themselves grappling with how best to proceed in the new Teams-oriented world. Kevin Kieller, co-founder of enableUC, and regular No Jitter contributor on all things Microsoft, unmuddied the waters in this Jan. 31 piece, in which he described Teams as “a distinct product that provides new collaboration capabilities akin to persistent chat on steroids” and explained how it combines capabilities of Skype for Business with SharePoint and OneDrive. “The correct way to think of Teams is as two significant products rolled into one, a collaboration tool and a communications tool …,” Kieller wrote. “This mindset assists organizations deciding if they want to use Teams and, if so, how to optimize it for increased business productivity.”

  • $20 bills

     

    3. Mobile Voice, Data, Text: Unlimited for $20 a Month?! — In this Sept. 19 post, wireless watcher Michael Finneran, of dBrn Associates, used the news that Altice, which owns cable operators Optimum (formerly Cablevision) and Suddenlink, would be following market leaders Comcast and Charter Communications in offering cellular service as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). The catch, as captured in the headline, is that Altice would be doing so at a new price point for unlimited voice, data, and text. And, Altice would be offering “infrastructure-based MVNO,” through partnerships with Sprint and AT&T, rather than playing the traditional MVNO role as reseller. Finneran quoted a CNBC interview with Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei to explain the difference. In that interview, Goei had stated: “We have our own core network, we control the SIM card, and we are able to manage the traffic that goes on and off the Wi-Fi network more accurately and seamlessly [than traditional MVNOs]. That allows us to be a lot more cost effective in terms of what we pay to our roaming partners.” Finneran went on to suppose that while Altice’s move will have minimal impact on large enterprises, “small business is a different animal, one for which ‘cost control’ has a much stronger pull.”

  • Webex Meetings or Zoom?
     
    4. Webex Meetings or Zoom? Peering into Performance — In this Jan. 10 post, Zeus Kerravala, of ZK Research, explored the meeting experiences of Cisco Webex Meetings positioned again “the latest thorn in Cisco’s side,” Zoom Meetings. He did so by running a side-by-side comparison of how dynamic quality control works in the services. In the test, he found that both applications offered “great quality at 720p, although Zoom Meetings had a higher frame rate and consumed about twice the bandwidth of Webex Meetings” (as shown above). Introducing a 20% packet loss caused issues for both platforms, and each downgraded to 360p to adjust for the congestion. “However, once the packet loss was stabilized at 20%, Webex’s algorithms quickly increased video resolution back to 720p, while Zoom’s resolution stayed at 360p even after several minutes. Zoom may have eventually recovered to 720p, but not within the testing window,” he noted. Kerravala acknowledged that had some help from Cisco running the tests, but said he validated that they were run under identical conditions.
     
    The point of it all? “Buyers must understand that all online meeting platforms will provide a great experience when network conditions are ideal. What’s important are when conditions aren’t perfect: Missed words, blurry video, and an inability to study body language could make the difference between a right decision and a wrong one,” Kerravala concluded.
  • Business handshake

     

    5. Avaya, Mitel Said to Be in Merger Talks — Well, we know this one didn’t pan out, but in late April the scuttlebutt, as originally reported in The Wall Street Journal, was that Avaya and Mitel were discussing a merger. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the WSJ report said the negotiations involved a $2 billion stock deal, representing a share price of about $20 to $22 that Mitel was willing to pay for Avaya.

  • lifeline

     

    6. Skype for Business – Death Exaggerated, but on Life Support — Following on Microsoft’s summer announcement that it had set July 31, 2021, as the retirement date for Skype for Business Online, UC consultant Kevin Kieller, of enableUC, penned this Oct. 28 piece around the premise that “Skype for Business Server is now suffering from a potentially fatal wound.” He offered two critical reasons why the retirement of the online version spells the demise of the premises counterpart: For one, it feels like Skype is dead emotionally; and secondly, Skype for Business is being left behind technically. His advice: “Even if Skype for Business is providing excellent benefits to your organization, it can only be kept on life support for so long; you need to start saying your goodbyes and planning your transition to Teams now.”

  • silver bullet
     
    7. Avaya & RingCentral: Does This Alliance Make Sense? — Late in the day on Oct. 3, Avaya ended months of speculation about its future with the announcement that it had forged a strategic UCaaS partnership with RingCentral. Via the partnership, which has been dissected by many industry analysts (see slide 9, for example), the companies will offer a new solution, Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral, beginning early next year. As Zeus Kerravala, of ZK Research, noted in this day-after piece, the partnership includes a $500 million investment from RingCentral. This investment comprises a one-time $125 million preferred equity investment and a $375 million advance to Avaya for selling the RingCentral UCaaS solution in available countries. The total investment makes RingCentral a 6% shareholder in Avaya.
     
    As Kerravala spelled out in this post, he’s not so sure the deal is the best move for Avaya. But for RingCentral? It’s a “slam dunk,” he wrote. “With it, it’s essentially acquired part of Avaya without having to actually purchase the company.”
  • business handshake
     
    8. Why a Mitel-Avaya Merger Would Be Good for the Industry — Well, as noted back on slide No. 5, the discussion around what a combined Avaya and Mitel would mean turned out to be all for naught. But again, in April, this purported deal had everybody imagining the possibilities. As Zeus Kerravala, of ZK Research, pointed out in this post, when asking himself if there could be truth to the rumor, he had to say, “Yes, there’s a possibility” — especially given Mitel’s history of acquisition.
  • change meter
     
    9. Avaya & RingCentral: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly — In this Oct. 29 post, industry analyst Phil Edholm, of PKE Consulting, launched the first in a three-part deep dive on the “unique partnership” between Avaya and RingCentral (see slide 7) and its potential impacts. In a nutshell, Edholm said the deal is “a good, if not great, move for Avaya,” allowing it to address four critical issues. In his words:
     
    • It enables Avaya R&D and marketing to ignore UCaaS and focus on CCaaS
    • It gives Avaya a UCaaS answer in the market, providing clarity to existing IP Office customers and channels that the UCaaS future is clearly ACO
    • It allows Avaya to work more closely on how its large customers can integrate their existing Avaya products with their O365/Teams direction or consider ACO
    • It allows Avaya to buy back shares and placate its bondholders turned stock investors
     
    For RingCentral, he added, “this is either a brilliant move or a risky partnership paid for by incredible equity value.”
     
  • Inference dashboard

     

    10. Exploring How to AI-Enable IVR for the Contact Center — AI and the contact center hits the list at this No. 10 spot, complements of Brent Kelly, of KelCor, and his Jan. 31 post about Inference Solutions and its platform for creating intelligent virtual agents (IVAs). In this article, Kelly provided a complete rundown on the company and the platform, and even provided a customer snapshot. For the article, he spoke with Jeff Coomans, director of virtual solutions for BluIP, which helped a hotel chain deploy an IVA for reservation calls. Based on his experience working with the hotel chain, Coomans told Kelly that virtual agents will replace or augment many existing contact center agents over the next five to 10 years. “It’s hard to beat a well-designed virtual agent that can interact with people 24/7,” he said.

  • EC20 logo
     
     
    What will this top 10 list look like in 2020? The topics that surface at Enterprise Connect, coming the week of March 30 in Orlando, Fla., is a great place to get a clue. Check out the conference program here, and register today using the code NOJITTER to save $200 off the Advance Rate, expiring soon!

Which topics generated the most interest among No Jitter readers for 2019? Click inside and see!

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