Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hits and Misses - 6 Takeaways from Unify's Circuit Launch

Earlier this week, I was part of the UCStrategies podcast that did a collective debrief of last week's Unify event, along with the Tuesday launch of Circuit. By now, I'm sure you've seen lots of buzz from Unify as well as the industry at large, so there's lots to digest.

As someone who there last week first-hand, I had more to say than my allotted three minutes on the podcast, so I've pulled my thoughts together and distilled things down to six takeaways. In the spirit of balance that characterizes being an analyst, I've got three hits and three misses. There is lots to like about Circuit, but there are definitely shortcomings, and if you want to know more, please read my post that's running now on the UCStrategies portal. I hope you like it, and would love to hear your thoughts - and no doubt, Unify would as well.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's the latest with Huawei? UCStrategies podcast update

While everyone in the UC space has good reason to fear the big outsiders like Amazon and Google for the disruption they bring, the one player that pretty much all the UC vendors worry about is Huawei. They've been working hard for years, and you knew it was just a matter of time before their footprint was too big to ignore. That's certainly the case outside of North America, and it's hard to see how that domino isn't going to fall on our home shores at some point in the near future. They're simply too big, too well backed and too smart to not succeed when pursuing growth opportunities.

To better understand that, UCStrategies finally lined up a podcast session with Huawei, and on this call, we were joined by Edward Diender, their CTO for Western Europe operations. We covered a lot of ground, and while it's clear they still have work to do before becoming a major force in North America, they are in active learning mode, and I wouldn't underestimate their capabilities. To better understand that, I think you'll enjoy the conversation, which was finely moderated by Blair Pleasant. The link has been posted to the UCS portal, along with a transcript if you'd rather just read along.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Unify, Ansible and now Circuit - UCStrategies Podcast

Many of us with UCStrategies attended last week's Unify summit for analysts and consultants, where we got an up-close preview of Circuit. This is the go-to-market name for their new offering which is based on the well-received Project Ansible. Beyond that, it's hard to concisely say what Circuit is, but you'll catch on really fast.

Speaking of fast, we've never turned around a podcast so quickly at UCStrategies, and for that, hats off to moderator Dave Michels. We recorded this yesterday so it would be ready for posting just after 10am EST today, which is when Unify's press embargo ended. It pays to play nice and respect the rules - otherwise we'll never get invited by back to swank spots like Scottsdale - can you blame us?

Since the Circuit news is spreading its way across the Web now, I hope you add our podcast to the list to stay uber-informed. You won't go wrong with our group, as we shared a range of opinions based on our first-hand exposure to Circuit last week. It's a mixed bag for sure, and I'll have more to say in my own analysis of Circuit, hopefully by tomorrow. Until then, here's the podcast, including time markers for when each of us is speaking.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Unify Analyst Summit - Quick Thoughts

Am at the 2014 Unify Global Analyst Summit in Scottsdale, AZ, and can only share some high level thoughts. This isn't a long event, but it has a purposeful, singular focus. Unify has been a work in progress for a while now, both as an organization and as an enterprise-grade vendor in the ever-changing UC&C space.

Most of what we're hearing is under embargo til early next week, so we're getting a preview of things to come, and no doubt you'll be hearing about it in a couple of days. Basically, we're getting a deep dive on Project Ansible, their UC platform, and suffice to say they have something bigger and better under wraps. That's all I can say for now, but once things go public, I'll have more to share then. In the mean time, I can at least share a few photos of yesterday's executive speakers.

CEO Dean Douglas

CMO Bill Hurley

EVP WW Channels, Jon Pritchard

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Next Stop - Unify's Analyst Event

I've quietly been productive doing my regular writing along with new project work, and haven't travelled on business since June. Some people think I travel all the time, and it's not the case - these trips come in waves, and now I have a couple of trips on the horizon.

Tomorrow, I'm going to Scottsdale, AZ for Unify (nee Siemens Enterprise Comms) and their Global Analyst Summit. For sure, the weather will be better than the dreary drizzle here in Toronto, but more importantly, we'll get a close-up of how the major re-branding for Unify is panning out.

Their UC&C offerings are on par with anyone's, and I don't think there's much to complain about there. While they have a great global brand, the company has always struggled getting their share of the North American market. We all have our theories, and by the end of this week, I expect to have a better sense of that, and will share my thoughts here and elsewhere. If you want my in-the-moment commentary, follow my tweets - @arnoldjon - and otherwise, check back with me here in a day or so.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is the Internet of Things Good for your Business?

I'm sure the time is not far off when MBA programs will have course titles like this, and maybe even full-blown majors. I was still writing papers on typewriters when doing my MBA, so that tells you how much things have changed. Let's just say my POV is a bit different from the Millennials that I write so often about. I proudly cling to what we were weaned on back then, and am not shy to say it produces superior results to what people produce these days, but I can also see where they now have access to much richer tools, but how well they use them is another story.

If I'm baiting you into an exchange of opinions, bring it on! I love debating stuff like this, but with a purpose - I just think people are underachieving - more like overwhelmed - with all the apps and gadgets at their disposal.  I'll let that simmer for a bit, and steer you to my latest Rethinking Communications column for TMCnet's Internet Telephony Magazine.

I've been writing regularly about IoT and IoE, and after cloud, I think it's the next big frontier that will wash over everything we do - and eventually, think about. If you thinking I'm hinting at my favorite dystopian subext - 1984 - you're correct, but I'll stop talking now and hope you'll read my article. It's early days yet for IoT, but it's coming for sure, and the sooner you get it on your radar, the safer your future will be.

IoT is as much about what it can do for your business as what you cannot seem to do today without it. We're already drowning in data, and IoT will ramp this up by a few orders of magnitude, and unless you somehow get a handle on Big Data, IoT will kill your business. I'm being a bit dramatic here, but a lot of people underestimated the Internet, and the same for mobility. IoT is simply the next big thing, and sometime soon, those MBA grads you hire could be the saviors of your company - especially if they take my course, if only some school will come along and ask me to teach it!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Canadian Contact Center Trends - my Next Speaking Appearance

Industry events are few and far between in Canada, and am usually pretty receptive when I get asked to speak at them. If you follow me, you'll know I recently spoke at a couple of CTCA events in the Toronto area, and I've got something else coming this week.

On Wednesday, Interactive Intelligence is hosting its annual Canadian Customer Conference Day, and I'll be speaking on one of the panels. This year, the event is being held at Microsoft Canada's HO, which makes total sense since they're close partners. If you want to know how close, I just wrote an analysis about the challenges of integrating contact center solutions with Lync, and that's something that Interactive Intelligence does very well.

Along those lines, I'll be speaking on a panel addressing current contact center trends, and we'll be looking at things like social media, the cloud and multichannel. This is a closed event, so it's just for Interactive's partners and customers, but if you're there, I hope you'll catch our session at 2pm.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Deploying Cloud-Based Contact Center Solutions with Lync

This is a big topic for any business looking at the cloud when deploying Microsoft Lync and looking for the best way to support their contact center. These days, if you don't have a contact center, there's no excuse not to, as the cloud makes it feasible for any size of operation. If you don't know why having a contact center is essential, drop me a line - that's a whole other topic.

Let's stick to the program - you're going with Lync for UC, and now you have to decide how best to integrate the contact center with this new regime. Since Lync is becoming so popular, there's a lot of interest here, and that's exactly what UCStrategies focuses on.

As you likely know, I'm a UC Expert, and was engaged to write my analysis about this on behalf of Interactive Intelligence, who has recently partnered with UCStrategies for some thought leadership. Being a sponsored post, you should still take it at face value, as my focus is on the issues and challenges facing all businesses in this situation. My conclusion does touch on the virtues of what Interactive Intelligence brings to the table, and I'll leave that for you to decide.

More importantly, I've tried to present an industry-based perspective on what to consider when making this particular decision. The article has been posted now to the portal, and I can think of a few parties other than myself who will be quite keen to hear your thoughts. I hope you can give it a read, and after that, the floor is yours.

Friday, October 3, 2014

UCStrategies Talks UC with... Me

The community of Experts in the UCStrategies circle is pretty broad, and we have a healthy mix of seasoned analysts and consultants. New faces such as Evan Kirstel continue to expand our roster, and I can't think of a better place to stay on top of all things UC.

One way we do this is to share our personal views, and I was recently interviewed by UCStrategies to tap into those views. The interview isn't very long, but it's a good snapshot of my current thinking about what's driving UC. As you likely know, I do a lot of writing, and every now and then it's always nice to be asked for your opinion instead of putting it out there in the hope that people are actually interested.

There's a fine line there where everyone's an expert online, and people will do anything for their 15 milliseconds of fleeting fame - as opposed to being schooled in knowing how to write for an audience. I'll save that thread for another time - for now, I invite you read the interview, and in the spirit of our community, I hope you share your thoughts back with us.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gartner's Magic Quadrant for UCaaS - UCStrategies Weighs In

Acronyms are a fact of life in this space, and UCaaS is one of the more awkward terms, but it's accurate. When we talk about UC as a Service, we're really talking about hosted UC or cloud-based UC. Yes, that's basically three ways of saying the same thing. Don't dwell on that too long - these are the problems people like me make a living trying to understand and then explain to our followers.

The cloud is fast becoming the home for everything, and UC is no exception. This says a lot about how technology keeps changing, but it says even more about how this change is impacting the UC landscape. Whereas conventional - premise-based - UC was the sole domain of vendors, they are just one class of player with UCaaS. Since this deployment model is hosted away from the customer's operation, UC can now be provided by anyone with a carrier-grade cloud infrastructure.

That cues the music for service providers to enter the game, and that's where the mix gets more interesting when it comes to the Gartner Magic Quadrant. The criteria for inclusion into this circle differ from the premise-based market, so to get the big picture, you really have consider both sets of analysis. Our latest UCStrategies podcast was all about the UCaaS MQ, and if this side of the coin is new, you'll definitely want to check it out.

Speaking of awkward terms, I'm not sure if "podcast" is the right label since this edition was done via video. If you close your eyes and just listen, sure, it's a podcast, but if you want to see what we all look like in living color, now's your chance. The session was ably moderated by Dave Michels, who is leading the  "more video" charge with UCStrategies, and we were greatly enabled by Vidyo, who provided the video conferencing platform. I'm happy to give them a plug here, and the experience was great, and as you'll see, the Hollywood Squares tile format is pretty easy on the eyes.

We may not be the most exciting bunch to watch, but nobody really is when you're just talking from your desk. Anyhow, it's the commentary that really matters, and to help you navigate this 53 minute production, Dave has broken out the times when each of us is talking. I'm at the 8:36 mark, but I hope you'll set the time aside to view the full session. Where else can you get this much free advice from people who look so good on camera?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Writing Roundup

I'm probably the only person out there who sees everything I write, and I'm ok with that! As much as it seems we're in a post-literate world, I'm not going reduce all my ideas to clever 140 character missives or infographics that, by the way, take way way way longer to put together than a long-form post.

Rant over. If you like my take on all things telecom/disruptive tech, here are the posts you'll enjoy from last month:

Can Cisco Crack the Code for Video? Do They Need To? UCStrategies, September 29

Making Sure you get Quality of Service with VoIP, September 28

Where's the Fun in UC? ADTRAN UC Blog, September 25

Will Messaging Displace Voice? Internet Telephony Magazine, September issue

What IoT Looks Like in the Healthcare Sector, September 20

Getting out of the Box and Making UC Social ADTRAN UC Blog, September 18

VoIP's Hidden Value for SMBs, September 10

VoIP, the Internet of Things and Business Transformation, September 3