Friday, January 29, 2016

Unify and Circuit Redux - My Take, Second Time Around

Got back late last night from ITExpo, and the week prior, I was at the Unify analyst/consultant conference, so I'm pretty showed-out for now. At ITExpo, I moderated a panel about communication and collaboration, and at Unify, we got an extensive update on the business, including Circuit. Things look better now than when Circuit made its debut in late 2014, and there are some relevant ideas from my ITExpo panel to reinforce that.

I've pulled those ideas together for my current UCStrategies column, and it's running now on the site. If you're trying to make sense of the fast-changing collaboration space, and/or how well Unify is currently positioned, I think you'll find this a good read. If you do that, I hope you pick up on the links in my analysis, as my UCStrategies colleagues Blair Pleasant and Phil Edholm have also shared their thoughts, but more so about the overall Unify story.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How NOT to Make UC Strategic - My Current Column

Rethinking Communications is the monthly column I write for TMC's Internet Telephony Magazine, and in the current issue I look at things businesses do that goes against the grain for making Unified Communications a strategic investment. You really do need the right mindset, and if you're still thinking in legacy terms, you'll have a much harder time getting full value from UC.

Here's the link to the article, and it's the follow up to last month's column, where I wrote about how you do make UC strategic. I hope you read them both, and if you can share, that would be great too. If you're having any difficulty accessing these posts, drop me a line and I'll help you out.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Loose End #2 - Podcast on Customer Experience Trends for 2016

Trying to tie things up from a busy week, largely taken up by the Unify analyst conference. Flying out shortly, and this is my second loose end post to cover things I couldn't blog about earlier in the week. I just posted about loose end #1, and here's #2.

I recently recorded a podcast interview about trends shaping the customer experience in 2016, and it went live a few days ago. This was done with UK-based Enterprise Management 360, and there's a companion article of mine that will run in their next quarterly magazine - stay tuned. Until then, here's the podcast.

Loose End #1 - Am in Fonolo's Top Contact Center Analysts List

It's been a busy week at the Unify analyst conference, so am behind on some things. This is loose end #1 before the week is out, and another one is coming after this.

Lots going on besides Unify this week, and earlier, Fonolo published this list, which I'm happy to be included in. Fonolo is Toronto-based - so I like them already - and has been doing lots of innovative things in the contact center space. Led by Shai Berger, they know where things are going, and it's nice to see them put this list together based on what they see in the market.

Recognition is always nice, but if you want to stay on top the contact center world, this list will also help you narrow down a core set of analysts to follow.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Unify 2016 Analyst Conference - Quick Take

Yesterday was Day 1 of the Unify analyst conference being held in Bermuda. No complaints about being here, and I'll just leave it at that. I'll have a more detailed post later, as it's Day 2 now, and I need to be in the moment.

The main story here is how things will progress following the Atos acquisition. There's a big opportunity here, although the synergies will take time to realize. Our timing was good yesterday, as the official news of the deal being done was announced around noon, so we got to share it with Unify management in real time. Champagne all around, and a lot of happy faces.

Overall, there's going to be a challenge for both companies figuring out where products fit into a services-driven business. There are also realities to address in that the marketplace is still attached to a CPE model, whereas most vendors - Unify included - want to migrate customers to the cloud and have them adopt a managed services model.

Closer to what I follow more regularly - OpenScape and Circuit - there's lots of good news. Looks like they've productized Circuit nicely, with 2 free entry options and 3 paid editions that look more like a real UC deployment. Also, closer to home, it's good see a growing presence in North America, and the customer panel we're seeing today is more validation of that.

Unify is in a good position now financially, sales momentum is strong, their channel story is more focused now, and their focus on 5 vertical markets is paying off. Circuit is still finding its legs, but the developer ecosystem is growing, and as we heard on the customer panel, it gets new conversations going that helps differentiate Unify.

I'll have more to say after the event, and for now I'll leave you with some photos from Day 1.

 CMO Bill Hurley kicking things off
Norm Korey and the GTM update
Toasting the official news of the Atos acquisition of Unify
Comfy breakout pods
What's not to like?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Next Stop - Brrrmuda and Unify's Analyst Conference

Yeah, it's cold here in Toronto, and it's not quite beach weather in Bermuda, but I can live with that. Never been to Bermuda, and am very much looking forward to leaving shortly for this. For the next few days I'll be at the Unify Analyst Conference, and we'll finally get a deep dive that builds on the preview briefing we recently got about Circuit.

That will be the main focus, but I'm sure all of us analysts will be just as interested in the business side of things now that Atos is in the picture. The synergies from moves like this aren't always so clear, but in due time, I'm hoping that will change.

I'll blog as time allows, but more often, I'll be tweeting @arnoldjon, and if you want to follow the event feed, it's #UnifyAR16.

This is actually part 1 of a 3 part trip, and next week, I'll be wearing my moderating hat at TMCnet's ITExpo in Fort Lauderdale. Again, I can live with that!

Monday, January 18, 2016

ITExpo Shout-out and Moderated Sessions

ITExpo is a week away, and for those attending, I want to make sure my sessions are on your radar.

"Are You Communicating or Collaborating?"  This is on the UC track, and runs Wednesday at 2:30

"Making Video Easy - How Hard Can it Be?" This is on the Business Transformation track, and runs Thursday at 10am

For more detail, including the abstracts and speakers who will be joining me, scroll through the Conference Program to the right date/time. For some reason their site doesn't have standalone links for each session, but it won't take long to find these.

Am off tomorrow to the Unify analyst event and from there, ITExpo in Fort Lauderdale. If you're at either event, I won't be hard to find, so feel free to drop me a line.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Transformation Challenges Facing Utilities - My Latest Smart Grid Post

For long-time followers, you'll know that I've been active in the Smart Grid space for many years, and serve as an Advisor to Austin-based Zpryme Research. They're a niche research consultancy focused on the energy sector, and I work with them in various ways.

One of these is as the Community Advocate for their marquee event, the Energy Thought Summit. Here is one of my recap posts from last year's event, along with a digest of the various posts I wrote to support it.

For ETS16 - running this March 28-31, again in Austin, I'll be writing a series of similar posts, and these are getting underway now. Additionally, I'm writing a series focusing on the four main themes of this year's summit - Transformation, Emergence, Convergence and Humans - TECH - all of which support the broader message of Transforming the Chaos.

I've been active in the Smart Grid space because I see the same pattern of disruption from IP and the Web in telecom being played out 10 years later with utilities. The parallels are strong, and I'm not alone from the tech/comms space in seeing this.

To keep that theme going, the first post in my series was just published on the ETS16 site, and I hope you give it a read. There's plenty of time to join us in Austin, and you just might want to do that after looking over the program and speaking roster in place - with lots more to come.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 Outlook - One More For You - UCStrategies Podcast

This one may have gotten lost in the shuffle with all the other 2016 previews. Our last UCStrategies podcast was a roundup of what we expect to see this year. Think of it as our State of the Nation for UC&C.

Oh, in case you missed it, if you want more of the same, but looking back at 2015 highlights, here's our podcast from the week before.

Of course, everyone has an opinion, and there are lots of good insights here.This will be 30 minutes well-spent if you want a broad, but informed view, and if it sparks some dialog or questions, we're keen to hear from you.

The podcast was moderated by Michael Finneran, and my comments start at the 8:44 mark - here's the link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cisco's Toronto Innovation Centre Opening Event

I spent yesterday morning attending this launch event at Cisco Canada's shiny new HO, which also includes an Innovation Centre. They've been ramping up for this for some time, and it's a great showcase of a public/private partnership between Cisco and various tiers of government.

The new offices are really a side story to the Innovation Centre, which is just one of nine globally run by Cisco. As you can imagine, the idea is to nuture innovation, entrepreneurship and tranformative ideas into great products/services that create jobs and help drive the digital economy.

We had His Worship, Mayor John Tory in our midst, along with other government representatives, all helping Cisco execs do the official ribbon cutting to celebrate the launch. Of course, the ribbon was digital, so no scissors were actually needed, but it went off smoothly and the spirit was great.

There are lots of angles here related to collaboration, and as usual, Cisco did a great job showcasing how their technology will help innovators communicate, share ideas and seamlessly work as virtual teams. Nothing new for the analysts/press in attendance, but I'm a fan of efforts like this that really help businesses understand what's possible with today's technology. In that regard, Cisco is totally on the right track here, and hopefully all the public funding behind this will be money well spent.

We saw a lot of cool stuff, and Cisco made some promising announcements around new initiatives to take a leadership role in supporting tech innovation in Canada. The details are best fleshed out in the press release, but am happy to dialog further if interested.

Normally, I would add photos to a post like this, but in my haste to get downtown in very sloppy weather, I forgot my gadget - doh! You'll just have to believe me that I was there, and yes, I got to meet the Mayor. Of course, there was lots of running commentary and photo-posting on twitter, so to rummage through that, best to check @CiscoCanada and #TOinnovate.

Otherwise, I'll leave you with one flashback so you'll know I really have been there. This was actually my third site tour there, with the first one being about a year ago when they held a hard hat tour to show us how they were building a smart building from the inside out. If you like that sort of thing, you'll enjoy my post and photos here.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Three Criteria for Evaluating UCaaS Providers

I've been working with Tech Target on a few different series, with the latest being on UCaaS. The hosted/cloud-based UC space is a major trend with implications across the entire value chain. Part 3 in my series has been posted now, with the focus being three criteria to help decision makers evaluate UCaaS providers.

You can access the post here, and if you want to read the earlier posts, here's Part 1, and here's Part 2.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Digest of my Reviews for 2015 and 2016

Before the week gets out, I wanted to post this digest of my various reviews for 2015 and beyond. Am sure you've seen plenty by now, but unless you follow me very closely, you may not have come across all the different things I did around the crystal ball we all seem to have this time of year.

Business Communications Trends and Highlights of 2015 - UCStrategies podcast, Jan. 5

2016 Collaboration Outlook - 3 Things Not to Expect,, Dec. 31

2016 Collaboration Outlook - 3 Things to Expect,, Dec. 30

The State of UC and Collaboration, Shaping Influence, Dec. 11

Five Trends Driving UC in 2016, CTC Info Telecom, December 2015 newsletter - note: link here only takes you to the signup form to request a copy. I can send over a PDF as well - just drop me a line.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

UCStrategies Podcast - 2015 Highlights

Everywhere you look there are 2015 reviews and predictions for 2016 - it's what we do. So, better late than never - our last UCStrategies podcast reviewed 2015 and how this bodes for the new year. We did this just before Xmas, but for some reason, it didn't get posted til now.

2016 is barely out of the gate, and our perspectives on the podcast are still very timely, so I urge you to give it a listen. Blair Pleasant was the host, and my comments start at the 9:43 mark.

Just a quick heads-up - we're doing our 2016 UC&C outlook on today's podcast, and I'll be posting about that once it's on the UCStrategies portal.

Monday, January 4, 2016

December Writing Roundup

Just like that, it's 2016 and time to get back to work. Am ramping up for a busy year, including a major refresh of my website and blog page. That's a long project, though, and the writing continues, so I'll start 2016 off with a recap of my top posts from last month. To keep track of what's keeping me busy, these posts from December will give you a pretty good idea.

2016 Collaboration Outlook - Three Things to Expect,, Dec.30

How to Make Unified Communications Strategic, Internet Telephony Magazine, Dec. 21

Five Trends Driving UC in 2016, CTC Info Telecom, December 2015 newsletter, Dec. 18 - note: link here only takes you to signup form to request a copy. I can send you the PDF directly as well - just drop me a line.

8 Steps to Success with Open Source Software Projects, post and infographic,, Dec. 18

Cisco Spark - is this the New Collaboration Era?, UCStrategies, Dec. 17

Choosing Between Microsoft and Google for UC,, December 15

Two Things to Know About Hosted UC, Internet Telephony Magazine, Dec. 14

Why Collaboration Needs to be More Mobile-Centric,, Dec. 11

The State of UC and Collaboration, Shaping Influence, Dec. 11

Three Business Benefits of the Cloud offered by UCaaS, TechTarget, Dec. 9

Why Collaboration is Harder with UC, Part 2,, Dec. 8

What are the Collaboration and IoT Challenges Facing IT?, TechTarget, Dec. 4