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Time for a Change

The election is over.... Let me say that again: The election is OVER.

I recently saw a blog headline--"All the World's a Stage and I Wish Some People Would Get Off of It"--which exactly captures my sentiments about the discourse between candidates and, most of all, toward whoever is behind those #%^$*[email protected] political commercials. Still, I hope your favored candidates won, and that once in office, they prove deserving of continuing support.Personally I can't wait to see how "change" gets turned into concrete policy decisions. Candidates from every stripe jumped onto the change bandwagon, just like communications companies have morphed into Unified Communications companies. And just as "change" is very much in the eye of the political beholder, so too with UC.

Consider, for example, a recent post on NoJitter. In "The Dilution of UC," Allan Sulkin argues, "UC is quickly becoming a generic term for all communications offerings and solutions.... UC now apparently includes: the core telephony system; voice, integrated, and unified messaging systems; digital and IP desktop telephone instruments; cellular extensions and wireless handsets; and in some cases ACD contact center solutions. Even audio conferencing systems are labeled UC. Where will the madness end?"

I've worked with Allan for decades and am accustomed to his rants--most of which have been proven justified by subsequent events. But while I enjoyed Allan's post, I found a comment that came in response, apparently from someone on the buyer's side of the table, to be particularly compelling: "You said it Allan. Everything is UC these days and it's really hurting the process in creating a real strategy. The vendors are making it harder for us to actually buy a solution because it takes so long to interpret 25 different products all named the same."

Now maybe in the "good old days" vendors could ignore such sentiments, but given the current market climate, if customers are saying that vendors are "making it harder for us to actually buy a solution...." isn't it time for the industry to rethink its modus operandi?

Readers of the UC eWeekly newsletter may recall that a few months ago, I voiced a similar complaint: "If, after all this time, two of the most common UC-related questions are: What is it and why does it matter, either UC is a hoax, or the folks who believe they've got answers to those questions need to rethink how they're communicating.... I reject the UC-is-a-hoax argument, but I believe the industry needs to find better ways to discuss what UC's really all about--and soon."

I wrote those words before the financial collapse, and the events of the past two months have only intensified the need for more clarity about the payback from UC investment. At next week's VoiceCon San Francisco, we'll learn more about how UC is actually been deployed directly from the enterprise folks who've done the heavy lifting. I know their peers will be paying attention and hope that the UC vendors will be doing the same.

What do you think? How has the economic climate affected your plans for UC, and what do you need to see before moving ahead?