It’s that wonderful time of the year when people around the world make their New Year’s resolutions – things they’ll do differently, bad habits they’ll quit, good habits they’ll start, and so on. Here are some New Year’s resolutions related to unified communications that I would like to see in the coming year.
Vendors working together toward federation: One of the biggest obstacles to UC success is the lack of federation, or the ability for one vendors’ UC/IM/presence offering to work with another’s. While we’ve seen some good success stories of UC helping companies internally, the number of situations where companies can use UC to interact with customers, partners, and suppliers using different platforms and different vendors’ products is limited. If I’m on a Cisco UC system, I can’t see the telephony presence of my customer on an Avaya UC system, for example. Federation is number one on my wish list.
Vendors, analysts, and consultants agreeing on a definition of unified communications: We’ve all been harping on this for a while, but there are still multiple definitions not only of UC, but also of Communication Enabled Business Processes, which is confusing to enterprise customers.
Analysts and vendors agreeing on a way to measure the UC market: As an industry analyst one of my jobs is to analyze and forecast the UC market. I’ve been an analyst for many years, analyzing several different markets – the unified communications market is by far the most difficult market I’ve had to measure. There is no agreement within the vendor community as to what constitutes the UC market, and they have not been forthcoming in providing market data that could be used in a market analysis (most likely because we’re still in the early stages of the market and the shipments have been limited).
Vendors and resellers providing sales and shipment data for their UC solutions: While PBX market analysts can easily count the number of PBX lines that have been shipped, or in the email market we can count the number of email licenses sold, there is no single element to count in the UC market. I resolve to develop a way to measure the UC market, but I need future buy-in from vendors and resellers who will need to provide the necessary market data.
Resellers being more receptive to selling UC solutions, rather than “boxes”: I know it’s a hard transition for many resellers who have been successful selling telephony or convergence products, but the time has come to embrace UC, which means a new sales approach. This approach may involve taking a vertical focus or a longer-term solution focus, but it is necessary. Some resellers are making the transition more easily than others, but vendors will be changing the way they compensate partners, so these partners will have to accept this and get on board.
My personal resolution: I resolve to be more open to other people’s definitions of UC and CEBP – this is an evolving market, and it is too early to say what it will look like in a few years. Even though I have firm ideas about what makes a UC solution, there are others with different beliefs, and many of these should be taken into account. I resolve to listen to these other ideas and integrate them into my own when appropriate.
If we as an industry can make and keep these resolutions, it will go a long way to helping the Unified Communications market grow.