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UC: Berkeley or Davis?
This past weekend my wife and I attended one of these events. A good friend with a technology background introduced me to several guys, all "C" level executives at San Francisco-based major companies, telling them: "Jim is in UC". One quickly responded "I'll bet you're at Cal" (University of California, Berkeley); another said, "Based on the fact we are in the Napa Valley and you are a local, I will go with Davis" (University of California, Davis). UC Davis is the top University in the U.S. for Viticulture (grapes).
My friend at once explained, "No, UC stands for Unified Communications." The response from these folks was consistent: They all looked puzzled.
I quickly explained that UC was "communications integrated to optimize business processes," and I even pulled out my cell phone and explained some of UC's mobility components and how UC helps people communicate and collaborate in new ways. Like a sales person having instant access to his or her company's inventory database or looking at the availability or presence of someone before they call them and start a round of telephone tag.
The conversation continued with a lot of good questions, the most prominent being--"What do you think of this wine?" But eventually, they all asked me to tell them more about UC, and after I did, a few felt that it was time their companies started looking into UC. One thought his company already was, but I had to explain that just because the firm had recently purchased a new Cisco IP-PBX did not guarantee that they had actually bought UC.
I came away from those conversations thinking how typical they were for the state of UC. Most C-level execs haven't a clue about what UC is, and some believe that they're well along the path to UC even when they aren't.
A few weeks ago I wrote an issue of UC eWeekly focusing on the fact that IP-PBXs are NOT equal to UC (see "UC: It's Not About Buying a New IP-PBX," at http://voicecon-uc-eweekly.p0.com/u.d?hnuGxmeAPc-_Hoa57G=2240 ). But a lot of vendors are still marketing IP-PBXs as if they were.
And, of course, there's the usual hype that comes with a hot new product category. LiteScape Technologies recently issued a press release in which it claimed to be "the market leader in unified communications applications." Given the presence of Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Mitel, Nortel, IBM, Microsoft, RIM, Nokia, Dimension Data and many others who produce "unified communications applications" there is no way that the statement is true.
I've been through this cycle before, and don't expect the hype to disappear any time soon. But it's important to keep in mind that the UC market is in the early phases of its evolution, and that until we educate C-level and line-of-business executives, and get the analysts and consultants to use the same terms in the same way, this market will not mature as quickly as it should.