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UC Theme Expanded

Unified Communications continued as a central theme at VoiceCon Orlando 2008 on Wednesday. The Early bird session on "Enhancing VoIP for Unified Communications" was packed at 8 AM (wow!) and an excellent panel comprising Avaya, Nortel, Microsoft and Mitel provided recommendations to the attendees on the incremental investments they could make and the costs and risks of those investments. Suggestions ranged from innovative suggestions on integrating communications into business processes for major ROI, to effectively and simply deploying the standard UC desktop features (e.g. IM and presence) and telephony features (e.g. mobility and audio conferencing).

Unified Communications continued as a central theme at VoiceCon Orlando 2008 on Wednesday. The Early bird session on "Enhancing VoIP for Unified Communications" was packed at 8 AM (wow!) and an excellent panel comprising Avaya, Nortel, Microsoft and Mitel provided recommendations to the attendees on the incremental investments they could make and the costs and risks of those investments. Suggestions ranged from innovative suggestions on integrating communications into business processes for major ROI, to effectively and simply deploying the standard UC desktop features (e.g. IM and presence) and telephony features (e.g. mobility and audio conferencing).The Keynotes were also extremely compelling today. Of course, you'll see plenty of articles and posts on the appearance of Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore via Cisco Telepresence to advocate action on the Global Warming crisis.

The UC portion of that keynote was that Cisco repeatedly emphasized specific ways in which UC and Collaborative tools, including Telepresence, are able to accelerate business, cut costs, increase organizational bandwidth, and improve the relationship qualities of a business or organization.

The Telepresence session was very impressive, including the one-button conference initiation from the Cisco phone. All participants, from Orlando, San Jose, Nashville and London were visible simultaneously through high-definition video, and the speech quality was top-notch, though a slight voice to video synchronization delay was noticeable from London and San Jose. Of course, there was the emphasis on the "green aspects" of the solution, with John Chambers mentioning a $100 million savings in travel expense (and the related reduction in carbon emissions).

IBM's keynote was also very impressive, though emphasizing the applications and functions of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) beyond the foundational elements of voice and video communications. The live demonstrations of the new Sametime 8.0, available March 28, 2008, included the new "persistent chat" that enables ongoing group communications; real-time community collaboration to keep workgroups effective; instant sharing of images and documents; and location services that use network connectivity information to manage search, presence, and access to resources. IBM Lotus Software GM Mike Rhodin highlighted the ability of Sametime to address four work modes or levels: PC, Telephony, Workgroup and Enterprise.

The "cool" segment of the IBM session was a live demonstration of new concepts in meetings. In this case, they demonstrated a virtual meeting space based on the newly acquired Forterra software. The live demonstration showed a group of people in a virtual (think PC video game-like) meeting room with each participant represented by human-like avatars that could move around the room, activate devices (i.e. used the "Polycom" to add a person to the meeting), show slides and information, and even make gestures and expressions of interest or excitement. It really was a new concept of a meeting, and opened up a number of ideas for meeting effectiveness.

Overall, a good day at VoiceCon Orlando 2008!