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Time to Move Past UC?
I enjoyed seeing the title of Fred Knight's post UC is Dead, Long Live UC! I certainly don't believe that UC is dead or not of interest to many customers, but I firmly believe that industry writings and conference presentations about the topic have more than reached a saturation level. It's time to move on and accept UC as part of the market landscape like a tree in your backyard that cannot be seen growing (though you know it is, ever so slowly), it's just there.Recent interactions with two product suppliers, Interactive Intelligence and Toshiba, have more than convinced me that UC features and functions are not driving telephony system or contact center sales, but are along for the ride. At a time when leading system suppliers bundle UC feature/function licenses with their generic communications system software at highly significant discount levels (in Avaya's case sometimes at 100%), let's all admit that current demand for the option is not overwhelming if based on non-bundled, non-discounted price levels. To offer an analogue, I'm sure a few consumers buy a box of Cracker Jack just for the cheap prize inside, but most are buying it for the primary offer, the caramel coated popcorn and peanuts. UC, like the crappy "prize" is tagging along for the ride.
A major problem with UC is that the term has become virtually meaningless. When did the core telephony system offering become a UC offering and why has Avaya fallen into this trap? Why is everything enterprise communications now renamed UC? The mobile cellular extension option was around years before UC became an accepted industry term. So was audio conferencing (by several decades), unified messaging, and collaboration ("white boarding") among distributed station users. Packaging everything under the sun and labeling it UC is good for one thing only: Exaggerating the size of the market. It is akin to what was done during the 1990s when some market analysts tried to include unified messaging revenues as a means to boost the size of the CTI market. UM is UM, and not CTI (nor UC, but enough with the two letter abbreviations). Harry Newton may well have been the only person who made money off of CTI during the 1990s--though a conference, not selling a solution. Who today is making money selling UC? What and how much today is selling as a "UC" solution? I don't count mere presence and IM, as integral as they are to the UC ecosystem, because they exist and function as self-standing features and functions. The actual revenues numbers are far below almost anyone's earlier projections (maybe because no one expected license fees to be given away as an incentive to buy the basic telephony system).
I expect to receive some potshots for my UC comments from some bloggers and readers (including those who remain anonymous hiding before fake, oh so cool, pseudonyms). Right now there is an established market for telephony systems and contact center solutions. There is even a small, but growing, market for telepresence systems. I just don't see a sizable market today for so-called full-featured UC solutions. UC is selling today in bits and pieces, not the whole enchilada