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The UC Land Grab is About to Begin

One thing is clear: We're going to see more acquisitions. None of the vendors can offer all of the piece-parts that are required in a UC future, and there's neither the time nor the human resources for each of the vendors to "roll their own."

At one level, there's nothing new about this. If you think about Cisco or IBM, for example, their respective UC offerings run off platforms that came through acquisition: Cisco purchased Selsius Systems and IBM bought Lotus. When you add Microsoft into the mix, you see the critical role that M&A activity has played in getting them positioned for UC. Here's a recap of some of their acquisitions:

  • Microsoft: PlaceWare, Groove Networks, media-streams.com, Tellme Networks and Parlano.

  • Cisco: Selsius Systems, GeoTel Communications, Vovida Networks, Active Voice's UM product, Latitude Communications, dynamicsoft, Orative and WebEx.

  • IBM: Lotus Development Corporation, Databeam, Ubique and WebDialogs.

    From my conversations with CEOs of the UC vendors, it's clear that they recognize the importance of M&A and strategic partnering. At VoiceCon Orlando 08, the UCStrategies.com team held an evening social function that included the top leadership of major UC vendors and start-ups. Both groups found that mix to be very useful and, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the companies that began their conversations that evening wind up formalizing close working relationships in the near future.

    With two decades of experience with communications M&A, I can tell you that there's been an incredibly high level of activity during the past two years. Traditionally, the biggest challenge involves potential partners finding each other--small companies and startups either can't find the right people in the big companies to talk to or can't get their attention; big companies have so many irons in the fire, they can't work with as many companies as they would like.

    I think this is about to change; we are entering a Unified Communications "land grab." Now that vendors have validated the UC market, it is time to compete. Enterprise customers want to keep the number of vendors they work with down to a reasonable number, which requires a balance between engaging with more vendors and implementing some UC components that are not best of breed. The major vendors understand this, and some are building up their capability to go out into the market and grab the best available UC "land" to complement their UC strategy. This creates a challenge to enterprise customers--they need to be alert to how their vendors are proceeding with their partnering and acquisitions.

    But it's certainly a good time to be a small company/start up in UC, provided that they begin to take the necessary steps that will make them an attractive partner and/or acquisition target. The UC land grab will determine the ultimate success and failure of vendors--both the acquirers and acquirees.

  • Cisco: Selsius Systems, GeoTel Communications, Vovida Networks, Active Voice's UM product, Latitude Communications, dynamicsoft, Orative and WebEx.

  • IBM: Lotus Development Corporation, Databeam, Ubique and WebDialogs.

    From my conversations with CEOs of the UC vendors, it's clear that they recognize the importance of M&A and strategic partnering. At VoiceCon Orlando 08, the UCStrategies.com team held an evening social function that included the top leadership of major UC vendors and start-ups. Both groups found that mix to be very useful and, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the companies that began their conversations that evening wind up formalizing close working relationships in the near future.

    With two decades of experience with communications M&A, I can tell you that there's been an incredibly high level of activity during the past two years. Traditionally, the biggest challenge involves potential partners finding each other--small companies and startups either can't find the right people in the big companies to talk to or can't get their attention; big companies have so many irons in the fire, they can't work with as many companies as they would like.

    I think this is about to change; we are entering a Unified Communications "land grab." Now that vendors have validated the UC market, it is time to compete. Enterprise customers want to keep the number of vendors they work with down to a reasonable number, which requires a balance between engaging with more vendors and implementing some UC components that are not best of breed. The major vendors understand this, and some are building up their capability to go out into the market and grab the best available UC "land" to complement their UC strategy. This creates a challenge to enterprise customers--they need to be alert to how their vendors are proceeding with their partnering and acquisitions.

    But it's certainly a good time to be a small company/start up in UC, provided that they begin to take the necessary steps that will make them an attractive partner and/or acquisition target. The UC land grab will determine the ultimate success and failure of vendors--both the acquirers and acquirees.

  • IBM: Lotus Development Corporation, Databeam, Ubique and WebDialogs.

    From my conversations with CEOs of the UC vendors, it's clear that they recognize the importance of M&A and strategic partnering. At VoiceCon Orlando 08, the UCStrategies.com team held an evening social function that included the top leadership of major UC vendors and start-ups. Both groups found that mix to be very useful and, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the companies that began their conversations that evening wind up formalizing close working relationships in the near future.

    With two decades of experience with communications M&A, I can tell you that there's been an incredibly high level of activity during the past two years. Traditionally, the biggest challenge involves potential partners finding each other--small companies and startups either can't find the right people in the big companies to talk to or can't get their attention; big companies have so many irons in the fire, they can't work with as many companies as they would like.

    I think this is about to change; we are entering a Unified Communications "land grab." Now that vendors have validated the UC market, it is time to compete. Enterprise customers want to keep the number of vendors they work with down to a reasonable number, which requires a balance between engaging with more vendors and implementing some UC components that are not best of breed. The major vendors understand this, and some are building up their capability to go out into the market and grab the best available UC "land" to complement their UC strategy. This creates a challenge to enterprise customers--they need to be alert to how their vendors are proceeding with their partnering and acquisitions.

    But it's certainly a good time to be a small company/start up in UC, provided that they begin to take the necessary steps that will make them an attractive partner and/or acquisition target. The UC land grab will determine the ultimate success and failure of vendors--both the acquirers and acquirees.

    From my conversations with CEOs of the UC vendors, it's clear that they recognize the importance of M&A and strategic partnering. At VoiceCon Orlando 08, the UCStrategies.com team held an evening social function that included the top leadership of major UC vendors and start-ups. Both groups found that mix to be very useful and, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the companies that began their conversations that evening wind up formalizing close working relationships in the near future.

    With two decades of experience with communications M&A, I can tell you that there's been an incredibly high level of activity during the past two years. Traditionally, the biggest challenge involves potential partners finding each other--small companies and startups either can't find the right people in the big companies to talk to or can't get their attention; big companies have so many irons in the fire, they can't work with as many companies as they would like.

    I think this is about to change; we are entering a Unified Communications "land grab." Now that vendors have validated the UC market, it is time to compete. Enterprise customers want to keep the number of vendors they work with down to a reasonable number, which requires a balance between engaging with more vendors and implementing some UC components that are not best of breed. The major vendors understand this, and some are building up their capability to go out into the market and grab the best available UC "land" to complement their UC strategy. This creates a challenge to enterprise customers--they need to be alert to how their vendors are proceeding with their partnering and acquisitions.

    But it's certainly a good time to be a small company/start up in UC, provided that they begin to take the necessary steps that will make them an attractive partner and/or acquisition target. The UC land grab will determine the ultimate success and failure of vendors--both the acquirers and acquirees.