Friday, June 26, 2015

Next Webinar - What to do with your old Phone System

Got another Ziff Davis B2B webinar coming up to tell you about. The topic is SMB phone systems and what to do with them as they get old. These days, you don't have wait until end-of-life to make a change, and in some cases, it might be time to move on from have a phone system altogether. There are several options to explore, and I hope you'll join me to see what those look like.

The webinar date is Tuesday, July 15 at 2pm EST, and all the details are here. Time to start putting my presentation together!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nielsen IT Consulting New Office Reception

The Canadian IT consulting community is pretty small, and our paths cross - beneficially - from time to time. Nielsen IT Consulting is the one I tend to do the most with, and it's great to see their practice doing so well. They're doing well enough that it's time for new offices, and yesterday they held an open house for the IT community.

Emily Nielsen is one of the hardest-working people I know, and it's really paying off with the way their business is growing, and it's certainly a good-news story for the London tech scene - which I'm told is booming. Their new offices look great, and they made a statement blending old and new with the location and modern design. The space is housed in the railway roundhouse building - not quite a heritage designation, but pretty close. Very cool, and no doubt it makes a great impression on clients and prospects. There are some photos posted here on their website if you'd like to see more.

Was glad to be there, and I look forward to working with Emily and her growing team again soon. Congrats again - always glad to give a shout-out to support the Canadian tech sector.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reflecting on Interactions 2015 - UCStrategies Podcast

Several UC Experts attended the recent Interactions 2015 conference, put on by Interactive Intelligence. As always, there were lots of good takeways, with the biggest one being their all-in push to the cloud, not just for contact center, but collaboration too.

Lots to digest there, and we had a lively session the other day for our weekly podcast to reflect on the conference. The podcast has now been posted to the UCStrategies portal, and it was moderated by Blair Pleasant. My comments come in at the 5:50 mark, and they build on my writeup from last Monday about the conference. Over to you....

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Next Webinar - 3 Hosted UC Hot Buttons - June 23

Another shout-out for this webinar I'm doing with ShoreTel next Tuesday. I just finished an e-guide for them, and will be drawing from that for the webinar.

I'll be doing most of the presenting and will be joined by Richard Winslow, Director of Product Management at ShoreTel. We'll be discussing the nature of these "3 hot button" trends - what they mean for SMBs, the challenges posed by the cloud, and what SMBs should look for from vendors/partners.

All the details are here, and I hope you can join us on the 23rd.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Interactions 2015 - Big Bets, Smart Bets, Great Music, and a Silver Lining for UC

Last week was Interactions 2015, the annual customer/partner/analyst event for Interactive Intelligence. I've been to a few of these, and it gets bigger and better every year. Lots of good takeaways, and while UC is a secondary focus to the contact center for the company, I see them doing many important things that will determine winners and losers as all forms of communications moves to the cloud.

Seems to me there's more risk than opportunity for the major UC vendors right now, but there is a way forward, and Interactive's CEO has a pretty good idea what that needs to be. My thoughts are now posted, appropriately, on the UCStrategies portal, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"VoIP Security - It's Real But So Are the Solutions"

That's the title of my latest Rethinking Communications column for Internet Telephony Magazine. Security is a hot topic everywhere, and my post touches on three recent examples that are worth noting. The post was written a few months ago but only just published now, so it's not quite up to the minute, but still relevant for anyone concerned about security. For VoIP in particular, security is not well understood, and I hope that will change for the better after you read my article.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Next Webinar with ShoreTel - Three UC Hot Buttons

Another day, another project. Really enjoyed the Interactive Intelligence conference this week - post coming on that shortly - and now I'm through a stretch of 3 conferences in 10 days. Back to work.

Next up is another webinar with ShoreTel. My last white paper for them was on BYOE, and the follow on webinar went well enough that we're doing it again on a different topic. This time the focus is on three "hot button" trends that are currently driving UC.

The webinar is on Tuesday, June 23, and all the details are here. Instead of basing this off a white paper, the analysis will be in an e-guide format, and details are coming on that soon.

Monday, June 8, 2015

May Writing Roundup

May was a light month in terms of public posts, plus month-end timing means some things I was busy with in May won't turn up until next month's writing roundup. However, I've been plenty busy on other fronts, including conferences, a new white paper that's about to be published, an e-guide that's almost done, along with an add-on webinar for later this month. Am also working with a new client doing various forms of ghost-writing, and those won't be reflected in my roundups.

Enough about what's not in my roundup - here are the posts from May that you'll still find worth reading if you haven't seen them already.

UCStrategies Podcast - is Messaging Helping or Hurting UC?

Well, that's the gist of the topic we covered on last week's podcast. Every UC Expert has a point of view, and a number of us weighed in on the topic. It's a touchy subject, since messaging can really disrupt the UC value proposition, which until recently has been voice-centric. That's one of my big concerns, along with the fact these messaging platforms are going to be really hard to monetize unless they become ad-driven. Email is certainly going that route, and it's really annoying. Kind of like how all news sites now have a creepy mix of hard news and sponsored posts that look like news but clearly aren't.

I digress, but messaging is too popular to ignore, and it's not clear yet where it fits in the value chain we're still calling Unified Communications. If the incumbent UC vendors aren't careful, their offerings may go away and become usurped by more social platforms that are all about efficient communication rather than business processes and productivity. When everything is free, it's hard to stop employees from using them, so there's a lot at stake here.

Enough said - time to listen to our podcast, which is running now on the UCStrategies portal. Dave Michels moderated, and my comments are towards the end of our scrum.

Friday, June 5, 2015

CTCA Conference Wrapup - My Thoughts on UCStrategies

I got back from the CTCA's conference last night, and wanted to get my takeaways posted before the weekend while my memory is still intact. This is the CTCA's 30th anniversary - wow - but also the last as the association will now be folded into the SCTC.

While not focused specifically on UC, a lot of the content from the conference was relevant, and certainly of value to anyone either buying or selling in this space. What started as telephony has become communications, and now that's being usurped by collaboration, all of which is on track to fall under one giant cloud. If that's the swamp you're trying to navigate, I think you'll find my post relevant, and while you're on the UCStrategies portal, I encourage you to poke around. I'm one of many contributors, and if this isn't your go-to site for all things UC&C, it should be once you've spent some time there.

Interactions 2015, Indy - Next Up

It's been a busy week, having attended the Canadian Telecom Summit on Monday and the CTCA's 30th anniversary conference the past two days (post is coming). Next up is Indy for Interactions 2015. This is the annual customer/partner/analyst event for Interactive Intelligence, and it keeps getting bigger every year - a pretty good reflection of how well they're doing.

Interactions is always a great event for learning and networking, and on the fun side we'll get to see the Indy 500 Speedway on Tuesday - that's a first for me. Even more fun will be the after-party at the Slippery Noodle. I'll be guesting again on piano with the SIPtones, who did a great set there last year - see and watch for yourself, and if you watch carefully, you'll see me playing on a few songs in this compilation. Hope to see you there - gotta get back to practising now...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Next Stop - CTCA 2015 Conference

Later this morning, I'll be driving up to Mono, Ontario - am told it's about an hour outside of Toronto. That's where this year's CTCA conference is being held. The theme is "Partnering for Value", and that makes sense given that telecom consultants provide distinct value for their customers. Of course, business decision-makers face very different challenges these days, and providing relevant technology value is the big challenge facing CTCA's members.

I became an affiliate member recently, and as an analyst, I'm an outlier, but this community sure helps me better understand what's happening in the market. Likewise, they don't engage much with analysts, so I provide them a different perspective on industry trends. To that point, I'll be speaking on a panel tomorrow, moderated by long-time colleague Henry Dortmans. The session is at 10:45, with the focus being the "Future of our Industry". Definitely looking forward to it.

If you still wish to attend, there's room - plus, the resort is first-rate I'm told - and here's the agenda.

I'm getting my fill of Canadian telecom this week, having attended the Canadian Telecom Summit on Monday. On Sunday, I shift gears for next week's Interactive Intelligence conference, and then I get to stay put for while.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Canadian Telecom Summit Highlights

Yesterday I attended the long-running Canadian Telecom Summit here in Toronto, and it was time well spent. This is their 14th year, and founders Mark Goldberg and Michael Sone have made CTS hands-down the best industry event for our space. Canada has several small events - I'll be speaking at one of them later this week (see my blog tomorrow) - but this is the only one I know of that draws from across the industry.

My schedule is too messy right now to stay for the full event, but there was plenty of great content from Day 1, and if you didn't catch my live tweets yesterday, here are the highlights that resonated for me.

Nitin Kawale, President of Enterprise Business at Rogers
Following a long run at Cisco Canada, Nitin seems the right man for this role at Rogers, and his messaging was spot on for getting CTS underway. He spoke passionately about the need to for businesses to invest in today's communications technologies - not just to enrich Rogers and his ex-employer - but to make employees more productive and better at collaboration, especially under the guise of being customer-centric. These are familiar themes in the UC space, but his focus was on tying this on a broader scale, where all these gains roll up to make our economy stronger, which in turn gives us a better standard of living. Noble intentions, but he really hit on the underlying holdback - businesses cannot drive innovation by continuing to support and invest in legacy technology, especially fixed line telephony. No argument there.

Here's Nitin in conversation with Mark Goldberg after his talk.

Big Data and Analytics panel
No photo here, but the speakers did a great job framing the issues in a balanced manner. David Ritter from Boston Consulting Group set the stage by breaking down these concepts, explaining why they matter and translating all this into business value. If you don't have a handle on these ideas, then you really don't understand what all the fuss is about.

Also of note was Ann Cavoukian's discussion about her Privacy by Design framework. I've written about her work in the Smart Grid space and was glad to see her in this environment. Basically, the heads-up for carriers is to understand that privacy is a give-and-take issue with consumers. Providers need to be transparent, which means they must articulate how they treat privacy, but also in language consumers will understand. Equally important is the need to "embed privacy in advance" - to be proactive and not do it after the fact. Otherwise, we get the unintended consequences of privacy breaches that everyone dreads.

Cybersecurity panel
Another solid group session with speakers from Radware, Juniper, Bell, Telus and KPMG. Familiar messaging overall for me, but lots of prime examples showing how businesses are still falling way short. Juniper's Paul Obsitnik talked about the need for a holistic approach, not just for getting the right technologies in place, but also educating employees about the threats as well as the role they have to play to mitigate them. Amplifying that, Bell's Vivek Khindria talked about the "human firewall being your first line of defense". I couldn't agree more.

David Bray, CIO of the FCC
Regulation and telecom policy has always been a hallmark of CTS, and David Bray provided a great perspective, not just about U.S. realities, but also global issues arising from the growing impact of the Internet. Cybersecurity is very real in his world, and noted that for the Department of Defense, 85% of incoming email is spam. These threats are accelerating as the Web proliferates, and he noted that the 2014 tally of globally networked devices will double from 7 billion to 14 billion by the end of 2015. The magnitude is getting really hard to grasp now, and his bigger concern is the borderless nature of these technologies.

Governments at all levels - but especially federal/national - will have a harder time being effective, not just to provide public service, but to protect citizens and government itself from cybercrime, which seems to evolve at a faster pace than anyone knows how to address. His overall theme of finding "terra firma" was pretty powerful, as the Web has long stopped being a fun place to explore and learn without thinking twice. With so little safe ground out there, we risk seeing the Web turned into a lawless no-man's land, and right now, it's hard to see if this Pandora's Box can ever be made right again. Kinda bleak, but very engaging stuff.