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UC: Glass Half ???
So, is the UC glass half full or half empty? If you believe that UC is a disruptive, revolutionary technology that will turn businesses--and the communications industry--on their collective heads, you'd have to vote for half empty. The pickup simply hasn't been there.If, on the other hand, you see UC as part of the ongoing evolution of communications technology, and as part of the never-ending transformation in how that technology gets used, half full would be right, and not a bad thing.
That's my perspective after reading an impressive two-part article on No Jitter by Brent Kelly. Brent has done all of us in the industry a service by compiling a list of 10 issues that present the good, bad and the ugly about UC.
Among the good:
* UC is expected as part of a communications offering: UC is table stakes--no one can compete without a full complement of UC capabilities.
* While UC technologies continue to mature, they're stable, they integrate with back office elements such as corporate directories, calendars, office productivity applications and they interface with voice -- the most common communications medium of all.
* There are multiple entry points--and associated costs--for deploying UC...it's not an all-or-nothing procurement, architecture or implementation process.
* Prospects for hosted UC appear very strong, in part because of another important long-term trend -- virtualization.
* UC isn't going away...it is becoming part of the permanent landscape of communications and IT.
Among the bad/ugly:
* Despite all that's been written and discussed, the market remains confused about what UC actually is...like beauty--or porn--the definition remains in the eye of the beholder.
* A lot of UC elements are finding their way into enterprises for free--particularly IM and presence. Will that change? Who knows, but it's not likely to happen quickly and it may never happen to a significant way.
* In large part because of the two points immediately above, UC is not a high priority, either within IT or end users.
It's clear that UC already has had a dramatic impact on the vendor community. Microsoft and IBM have used UC as their vehicle into the market, Cisco has expanded its lead in part because it has relabeled itself a UC--rather than an IP-PBX-provider and both traditional vendors and new entrants will use UC as their rallying cry to promote next-gen architectures, products and services.
As for UC's impact on enterprises, that story is still unfolding. For the past year or two at VoiceCon, we've presented IT executives who describe their migration to UC--what's worked, what motivated the deployment and what have been the results. What I have found particularly noteworthy--and positive--is that, with few exceptions, these executives don't speak breathlessly about UC. Instead, they take a very matter-of-fact tone: UC elements or a broad UC solution made sense, took work to pull it off, there were some surprises, but UC is - or is becoming - a regular component of the IT/communications toolkit. We'll be presenting more of these case studies at VoiceCon San Francisco.
To the extent that enterprises that have adopted UC have found that it solves the problems it was intended to solve and at a cost and level of effort that is commensurate with the benefits achieved, UC is already a major winner.