Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome Aculab - new blog sponsor

Just a quick update - notice anything different about my blog today? Aculab is now running a banner in support of their current campaign around Aculab Cloud.

I've worked with Aculab off and on, and they're doing some interesting things with the cloud - you'll be hearing more about that shortly. The cloud, of course, is a big theme in 2012, and Aculab is going with the flow here, extending what's possible, not just for traditional customers, but also for reaching new customers who could not previously integrate telephony with their services or applications.

Closer to home, as an analyst, I'm happy to see them using Web-based media such as blogs to help get the word out. It's a natural fit for developers, and I hope they achieve the desired results!

I'll be leaving today for Miami and TMC's ITExpo, and I won't be hard to find there. The same goes for Aculab, so if you're attending the Expo and want to learn more about Aculab Cloud, you'll have no problem finding them at the Cloud Communications Expo, co-located with the main event. To be continued, but gotta get back to packing...

Friday, January 27, 2012

MobileMonday Toronto - Feb. 6 - You There?

Just a friendly shout-out for this event before I head off to Miami on Monday for the ITExpo. On Monday, Feb. 6, I'll be moderating the "Meet the Analysts" event at MobileMonday Toronto. It's part of a regular series held at the MaRS facility downtown, which is probably Canada's leading business incubator, especially for technology and health sciences startups.

This will be a fun panel, as we'll share our views on the outlook for mobility in 2012, with a particular focus on how the financial sector sees this space. Joining me will be buddy Ronald Gruia from my alum Frost & Sullivan, and Mike Abramsky from RBC Equity Research. Don't worry, it's free! Registrations have been strong, but there's still room, so it's not too late. Plus, if you're going to MWC, this will be a great networking event to get caught up on where mobility is going.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

ITExpo - How Smartphones and Social Media are Re-shaping Call Centers

Got one more panel to tell you about for next week's ITExpo in sunny Miami. This is the third panel I'll be moderating, and it should be a lot of fun. As consumers, most of us can vouch for less-than-perfect contact center experiences, and our expectations sure are changing with smartphones and social media. Whether you're in the contact center space or just a frustrated customer, you really should come out to our session.

Joining me will be fellow Torontonian, Shai Berger of Fonolo, along with Rick McFarland of Voice4Net and Tina Valdez from TeleTech. We'll be presenting on Wednesday at 1:30, and you can find us in Room B210. Our session is part of the CE track - Customer Engagement - and you can read all the details here. See you there!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Using UC to Re-invent the Channel

Busy week here - and will be even busier next week at ITExpo. Well, the title of this post is self-explanatory. Earlier this month, we did a UCStrategies podcast about how the channel is evolving to support UC.

Lots to talk about there, but each of us only gets to speak for a minute or two. I wanted to expand on my ideas, and have done that in my latest posting on the UCStrategies portal. It's running now, and I hope you read it - I think there's a lot opportunity here for VARs and SIs to add new forms of value to UC that businesses will really like.

ITExpo Miami Preview #2: Building the UC Business Case

Show time, go time. A week from today, TMC's ITExpo in Miami gets underway with the full program. Tuesday is a pre-con day, but I'll be there as part of the team for TMC's Editors Day.

I'm moderating 3 panels, and this is a shout-out for the first one on Wednesday. As you probably know, UC keeps me pretty busy, and this panel speaks to business case issues. Sure, we'll touch on ROI vs. TCO, but there's lots more to explore, so come on out and join us. Alongside me will be fellow analyst Irwin Lazar from Nemertes, and two vendors - Nancy Maluso from Sonus Networks, and Chris Hasenauer from Allworx/Windstream.

Our session runs from 11:00-11:45 on Wednesday, and we're on the C&C track - Communications and Collaboration. You're coming, right?

12 Ways of Finding Jon Arnold

We're all busy, and we all seem to lead multiple lives these days - some real, some (or more) virtual. Being an independent analyst, I wear many hats and work in a variety of ways/places to make a living.

I don't expect you to be up on everything I do, but am pretty sure people I work with only follow me selectively - nothing wrong with that. Since I wear the Marketing and PR hats around here, every now and then I need to make sure my followers get a bigger picture update.

One reason for doing this now is the fact that both my blog and website trended upward in traffic last year, and have been maintaining those levels nicely for a while. Companies have noticed, and I'm about to add my second sponsor later this week. Am in discussion with another one - a major vendor - so something must be working here. There's room for you too - operators are standing by to take your call...

So, just to be sure you know how to find me across the spectrum of my activities and writing, here's a summary with all the links you need. Hope you add a few new ones, and maybe subscribe to some new feeds. Thanks!

1. My website - J Arnold & Associates - the blog is for my telling, and the website is where I do my selling. This is where you need to be to learn about my analyst practice for thought leadership, research and strategy.

2.Upcoming events/conferences - this page on my website tells you where I've been lately and where I'll be the next few weeks out.

3. My regular UC postings on the ADTRAN UC blog

4. My monthly column on hosted contact center trends - on Exony's website

5. My regular posts, articles and podcast contributions around the UC space - on the UCStrategies portal

6. How you can hire me for speaking engagements

7. Follow me regularly on Twitter

8. Follow me less regularly or network with me on Linked in

9. Check out my latest published articles, white papers, podcasts, webinars, TV appearances, and various other citings here on my website

10. Review or purchase a report on the U.S. Renewable Energy market I co-authored with my smart grid research partners, Zpryme. It's still pretty timely, and custom inquiries are always welcome!

11. On the lighter side, you can follow my YouTube channel. Don't post there much these days, but my Cisco TelePresence demo has over 120,000 views, and if you want to see prime video of the-world's-best-cover-band, the Herding Cats, you will not find better clips than here. Remember when live rock was fun? Gotta see these, esp Whole Lotta Love (in 3 clips) and You Give Love a Bad Name - these guys are great!

12. On an even lighter side, if you need a guitar or piano player for a pickup rock or blues band at your next event, I'm there. Here's one from the Battle of the Bands at the 2009 Interactive Intelligence event. Gotta have some fun, right?

Got all that? How many ways are you following me now?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Re-thinking Service Levels in the Contact Center

There's been holiday-hangover lag in getting my latest analysis posted on Exony's website, but that's been fixed now. Contributing to this is their site refresh, which I quite like - you be the judge.

Regarding service levels, my previous writeup focused more broadly on the topic, whereas this one takes a closer look at the implications when following the hosted or virtual model for running a contact center. I welcome you to give it a read here, and would love to hear your thoughts. Until then, I'm working now on my next topic in this space - outsourcing - so look for a new writeup on that very soon.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Know Your Alternatives Conference, Toronto - SIP Trunking Session

I have a very busy two weeks coming up, and am sharing updates here with a series of posts this week. By now, you probably know I'll be at TMC's ITExpo in Miami next week, and I have some shout-outs coming on that this week. The following week, I have two one-day events here in Toronto, and I posted about one of them - MobileMonday - the other day.

Later that week - Thursday, Feb. 9 - is Know Your Alternatives, a locally-produced event with a strong IT focus. I'm presenting on the SIP Trunking panel, and will provide the current state of adoption in the Canadian market. The other speakers will have a U.S. perspective, so it will interesting to see how these compare. If you can make it, we're in Breakout 3, running from 11:30 - 12:30. Whether you're there or not, you can easily follow the run-up to the event - as well as during - on Twitter: @KYAlternatives

Friday, January 20, 2012

MobileMonday Toronto - 2012 Outlook for Wireless

If you're local and interested in where mobility is heading in 2012 - and who isn't? - you'll want to join me at the next MobileMonday Toronto event. The date is February 6, and it's at the regular location - MaRS - not the planet, but the MaRS Discovery District downtown. If you don't know what MaRS is, then you should come out just for that. It's free, and aside from the program, it's a great networking opportunity for those active in wireless.

The theme is "Meet the Analysts", and I'll be moderating a panel discussion where we'll cover the big mobility themes happening now, not just locally, but globally. Joining me will be long-time colleague Ronald Gruia (Frost & Sullivan) and veteran analyst Mike Abramsky from RBC Equity Research.

I'll do another shout-out closer to the date, but if you want to book it in your calendar now, here's the event web page, along with the registration form. See you there!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ITExpo Preview - "Can UC Get Social?"

TMC's ITExpo 2012 East is less than two weeks away, and it's time for some updates. I'm moderating three sessions and will be participating in TMC's Editors Day on Tuesday, so I won't be hard to find.

This post is shout-out for a session on the C and C track - Communications and Collaboration. As the title implies, we'll be looking at the impact of social media on UC, and what businesses need to be thinking about. I comment about this topic regularly, and am looking forward to getting the conversation going.

Joining me will be Paul McMillan from Siemens Enterprise Communications, Mark Castleman from Vobi, and Mike Ross from 4PSA. The session is Friday morning at 10am, and we'd love for you to join us. For more details on our session as well as the overall program, here's the conference overview.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Deloitte 2012 Predictions - Canadian tech outlook - some takeaways

Deloitte Canada has been running this event for 11 years, and yesterday's TMT Predictions 2012 in Toronto is the biggest one yet. I've attended and blogged about this event for a few years years now, and they had over 1,400 registered for this one. Pretty strong turnout, and they've built this up into a great showcase not just to share thought leadership about their TMT practice - technology, media and telecom - but also to brand Deloitte as more than just dull audit and tax advisory stuff.

Duncan Stewart is the star of the show, and this is his stage to be the public face of a worldwide team of research - mostly internal - who pull all this neat stuff together. Most of these trends are global, but he does his best to put it in a Canadian context to make it more relevant for the audience.

The presentation was built around 10 key findings, which is a subset of a more complete set of conclusions, but there was plenty there to think about for any business. No huge surprises for people like me, who follow these things closer than most of those in attendance, but well put together, nonetheless. I just wanted to pass on few notable takeaways here, and you can ping me if you really want to hear more!

- Tablets are really about the Internet of things. They're just the latest step along the way to ubiquitous computing made possible by cheap, mobile broadband. This speaks to the much broader trend of M2M, where we'll all be using multiple broadband-enabled devices - some of us with more than one tablet - to communicate with other broadband-enabled devices as much as we use them to connect with people. Scary.

- We appear to have moved into the "post-PC era", where the action has shifted to mobile devices. Duncan cited some nice data points showing how unit sales of the former have now eclipsed PCs. Fair enough, but to counter that, he also presented data showing that we still spend far more time on our PCs. So, we're not quite there yet for being in a post-PC world, and I think that speaks volumes about how important the end user experience is. In that regard, size matters, and the PC will never lose that tete-a-tete here.

- For all the flexibility we have to watch TV shows where we want and when we want, old habits are really hard to change. I found this data fascinating, and Duncan was sharing some very current findings. On average, we watch 33 hours of TV a week, compared to only 4 hours on the Internet. Of course this will vary by age - and applies to home-based use - not work-related - but TV still rules. More to the point, households are only watching about 2.5 hours of time-shifted TV per week, and less than 0.5 hour watching Web-based video programming. Bottom line - over 90% of all TV content is viewed within 24 hours. Say what you want about TV networks being on the decline - that's where the advertising dollars go - and stay - simply because that's where the viewers are. Sure, teens aren't watching TV like they used to, but in broad strokes, TV audience behaviors are not changing compared to the way our behaviors are with mobility usage. The world of online advertising and branding still has great potential, but it's a different world than TV (which Duncan touched on later in the presentation).

- It's good time to be in the tech business. This is a trend that I've been attuned to for a while now, and am glad to see it presented in this environment. In terms of how consumers spend their money, tech products and services provide high utility, and are relatively affordable. I've been saying this for a while. Despite our no-growth economy, people always seem to find money for the latest iPad, Android device or notebook. We've become so addicted/dependent on these things, we'd rather drive our cars another year, keep wearing last year's boots, put off that home renovation project, etc., in order to stay current to enjoy the latest YouTube videos and share Facebook updates virtually every waking moment. Surely, this is the sign of an advanced civilization...

Enough takeaways, and I'd better stop there - this is no place for a rant about how the Internet makes us stupid. :-) Let's end on a high note and just say that Deloitte's research shows that innovation is alive and well, and Canadian businesses need to pay attention - things are moving too fast these days, and the stakes are getting higher if you bet wrong or simply stay still.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Is the Cloud Ready for You?

How's that for a twist? Everyone is talking about how ready, willing and able businesses are to move things out to the cloud, but is the cloud up for all this? My concern is that the hype cycle for cloud is a bit much, and maybe businesses need to think a bit harder about what they really should be entrusted to the ether.

It's a big topic for sure, and I wanted to share an article I wrote about this for Internet Telephony magazine. This was prepared under the UCStrategies umbrella, so my article has a strong focus on implications for UC.

If you get the print edition from TMCnet, you may have seen this already - it ran in the December issue. They post content online a bit later, and the article was just posted on their portal last night, so everyone else can read it now. So, here's the link, and I'd love to hear your thoughts - am sure this will continue being one of the big themes for 2012.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

UC opportunities for VARs and SIs in 2012 - podcast

This week's UCStrategies podcast focused on the channel, which most vendors depend on for getting to market. UC presents a host of new challenges, especially for VARs and SIs who think in terms of selling products and boxes. These days, UC is pretty much about software, services and solutions. It's not capital intensive and the business model is built more around recurring revenues than upfront purchases and installations.

I'm not a channel expert, but plenty of others on the UCStrategies team are, and this week's podcast session reflected that. I added some thoughts towards the end, especially around the opportunities they have to re-invent themselves. Overall, if you're wondering how UC is impacting the channel, this is where you'll want to spend the next half hour of your life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top Tech Winners/Losers for the Last 25 Years - Cool!

Channel Partners magazine tapped me recently for my take on this very fun topic. Am not sure how many people they canvassed, but I was glad to be part of their information gathering. I really enjoyed doing this and just got the link today to their article.

25 years is a long time in the tech world, and there weren't too many surprises here. All the big names are there, but it was also nice to see some lesser known names in the win column, such as Paetec, as well as VoIP Inc. on the what-were-they-thinking side of the ledger.

Things change fast, though, in this world, and I suspect if they did their research a couple of months later, RIM just might have made the loser list. In defence of Canadian tech, I'm glad to say they're still with us, but 2012 sure looks like a make-or-break year for them.

Anyhow, I won't keep you in suspense much longer. Here's the link to the slideshow that summarizes their findings. You have to register on their site first, but that just takes a moment - really, that's all. If you're having trouble, or are just too bloody lazy, drop me a line and I can send you a soft copy. Either way, it's a good read, and I hope you check it out.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Unified Communications - 2012 Outlook Podcast

Sure feels like ages since my last post, and now that I check, it has been ages! Wow, time flies, esp when you're in holiday mode and have family coming to visit. That's all passed now, and it's back to work - and blogging.

For my first 2012 post, I was part of a great podcast earlier this week on UCStrategies. Our last podcast was the year in review, and this time around it was our look ahead to 2012. Not surprisingly, everyone has an opinion, and this session could have gone on for a long time.

The podcast has now been posted and transcribed to the UCS portal, and if you want a solid sendup of where Unified Communications is going this year, this will be 40 minutes very well spent. My focus was on how UC offerings will continue to move away from being telecom-centric, and I'll have more to say about that in my next UCS writeup this month.