Friday, May 27, 2016

My Next Webinar - UC Deployment Options with ShoreTel

Happy Friday! It's a short week here in Canada, as we had Victoria Day on Monday, and now Americans are getting ready to check out for Memorial Day. Nobody feels like working right now, but gotta get some things done today.

Been a busy month both with regular writing and client work. Am finishing up a White Paper with ShoreTel that will soon come out, and we're doing an add-on webinar to amplify some of the key themes.

In short, the focus is helping businesses understand and assess the best fit for three different deployment models - cloud, onsite or hybrid. Joining me will be ShoreTel's Richard Winslow, and we're doing the webinar on Tuesday, June 14 at noon ET.

The registration page was recently posted, and it's time start getting the word out. Hope you can join us, and I'll post reminders as we get closer to the date.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

NEC's Advantage 2016 Conference - UCS Podcast

There was a small contingent of analysts and consultants at last week's NEC conference, and there was enough presence from the UCStrategies group to bear collective witness, so that's what we did for our latest podcast.

Being so big and diversified, NEC brings a different twist to the UC space, and it takes some effort to get to know them. However, it's worthwhile, and if they play their cards right, they have a solid portfolio that competes well with anybody.

I was part of that contingent, and along with us, we had a few other UC Experts who weren't there weigh in with their thoughts. So, lots of perspectives, and if you're looking to get up to speed on NEC, our podcast will be 40 minutes well spent.

If you want the two minute version, along with some photos, I did a short blog post about the event, but the podcast provides a much deeper dive.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Webinar Tomorrow - Hosted VoIP for SMBs

Just one last post about tomorrow's Ziff Davis webinar I'm doing. The topic is hosted VoIP for SMBs, and I'll be exploring the pros/con and use cases, along with how to take a strategic approach for putting telephony in the cloud.

Webinar runs from 2-3 ET tomorrow, and all the registration details are here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

NEC Advantage 2016 - Quick Take

Just have time for quick getaway post before flying home.

This was my first NEC Advantage event, and I was one of just a handful of analysts there. It's mostly for partners and consultants, and this is where a lot of the business comes from, so it was a great opportunity to learn more about how NEC goes to market in this space.

I'll have more to say on that later, along with two other themes.

1. With so many UC offerings, it's really hard to differentiate, and that matters for everyone in the food chain. NEC is not a household name in this space - at least in North America, and they're very focused on changing that. The main differentiation message for me was how they focus on the integration between IT and UC for their value proposition. Other vendors do this to varying degrees, and given how strong NEC is with network infrastructure, this pairing makes sense.

2. Their SDN story is becoming a dominant theme for going to market. It's still evolving, but the virtualization story is resonating with enterprises, and NEC is pushing to become a market leader. This also ties into their IT/UC integration focus, and not many vendors can take things to this level. Most are going to market with a standalone UC solution, but NEC is surrounding this with a deeper play that can solve a lot of problems for IT.

That's it for now, but I'll have a recap post coming soon on UCStrategies, and as I get further along with their SDN story, look for more analysis on that as well.

Until then, here are some pix from the showcase, and a couple from our SIPTones gig last night. We had a blast, and when the dancing gets going, you know it's working. More to come on that as well, and if the video turns out half decent, the highlights will turn up on YouTube. I'll keep you posted, and if you like what we do, we'd love to play again soon!

 We're not internationally known yet, but it's nice to see our name at the top of the list here at the rehearsal studio on Tuesday.
 Hope to get photos soon from the NEC photographers at the gig, but this one comes via my analyst colleague, Rob Arnold, who posted this shot on twitter last night. Thanks bro!

Hot off the press from breakfast this morning - band shot, along with our patron saint of all things fun, Larry Kollie. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Next Stop - Jacksonville for NEC and Another SIPTones Gig!

I've been following NEC for a long time, and this will be my first time attending their annual event. The main focus will be customers and partners, but there will also be some analysts and consultants at NEC's Advantage Executive Conference.

Am looking forward to meeting more of NEC's executive team, along with roadmap updates, especially for their UC platform, Univerge Blue.

I'll also be part of the fun, doing another stint on keyboards with the SIPTones. We've been working on our songs, and as per the agenda, we're playing poolside for attendees Thursday night. Hope to see you there, ready to dance!

If you haven't seen us play, here's our most recent gig at last fall's SCTC conference in Atlanta:

Friday, May 13, 2016

CPaaS - New Acronym for UC - Our UCS Podcast

This week's podcast topic was the growing role of APIs and emergence of CPaaS as the latest acronym - that's Communications Platform as a Service.

All of us at UCStrategies try to keep up with the changing landscape, and what we've long been calling Unified Communications seems to be morphing into the equally amorphous term Business Communications. Your guess is as good as mine as to what's next, but for now, the buzz is about CPaaS, spurred by the recent news of Vonage acquiring Nexmo.

It's becoming clear now that UC providers need to have some form of messaging in their offering, and that's what we covered during our podcast. The session was moderated by Blair Pleasant, and you  can check it out here on the UCStrategies portal.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hosted VoIP - My Next Webinar

Wanted to start off the week with another shout-out for my next webinar with Ziff Davis.

The topic is hosted VoIP for SMBs, and I'll be providing a roadmap to help decision-makers understand what's involved when you put telephony in the cloud. Too much ground to cover in one webinar, but if it's early enough still in your "buyer's journey", it should be time well-spent.

You've got time to plan, and just trying to get/keep it on your calendar for now. The webinar is on Wednesday, May 25 at 2pm ET, and from here, just hop to the registration page to sign up.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

April Writing Roundup

Despite being away nine days at the end of April, I had plenty of writing going on, and below is a digest of posts you may still want to read if you didn't see them earlier. Aside from my ongoing focus on UC/collaboration, there's some smart grid content, a post about Toronto's global ranking for being future-ready, and Flashback Friday, where I re-run older posts from my blog archive - just because!

My Q&A with Esri - How GIS Delivers Value to Utilities, ETS Insights, April 26

Collaboration and Moments of Truth,, April 26

How Can I Use an Online Whiteboard in my Business?, TechTarget, April 25

How Collaboration Impacts Customer Care,, April 22

Flashback Friday - Cisco Telepresence Turns 5, my blog, April 22

How Disruption is Driving Change with UC,, April 19

My UC Expo Article: Flexible Working - Adapting to New Challenges, my blog/UC Expo magazine, April 18

Toronto - We're Number 11!, my blog, April 15

Are Real Time Collaboration Tools Necessary for Enterprises?, TechTarget, April 14

Lowering Barriers to UC with the Cloud, UCStrategies, April 12

Connected Enterprise Report - Future Expectations for UC&C,, April 11

LatAm Spotlight - VoIP Group CEO Talks Business Necessity of VoIP, TMCnet, April 5

Why Are We Still Using Email?, Internet Telephony Magazine, April 4

How UC Addresses Today's Business Challenges - Improving Productivity,, April 4

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

More ETS Thought Leadership - GIS and Smart Grid

I blogged yesterday about a session I hosted at the Energy Thought Summit in Austin. It included a video of the full session that Zpryme has posted on YouTube, and am glad to see that my post is getting a lot of readership. So, to keep the ETS vibe going, here's more content.

As Community Advocate for the summit, another hat I've been wearing is doing a series of thought leader interviews. Many of these were posted prior to the event, and can be accessed from the News section of the ETS16 site. Other interviews were done later, so I have a series of those coming soon. One was published while I was away last week, and am sharing it here now.

This one was done with Bill Meehan of Esri, a company that has been pioneering the use of GIS since the 1970s. The applications go well beyond energy, so my UC/collaboration followers will also find this of interest. Bill explains this quite well in the interview, and you can see him in action on the above-mentioned video from my session - he gave a very colorful presentation!

So, here's the interview, and will update the blog as the remaining interviews get posted.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Energy Thought Summit Redux - Video of my Open Mic Session

Zpryme's Energy Thought Summit - ETS16 - was just over a month ago, but there's still good content being posted, and will share here for those interested in the smart grid/smart cities/smart home/smart car space. Our event was a great success and you'll be hard pressed to find richer, more diverse insights about what the future holds for the energy economy.

By now you should know this is another hat that I wear, and as Community Advocate for ETS16, I contributed in a few ways. If that's news to you, my recap post for the summit is a good starting point for my involvement there.

During the summit, I hosted the Open Mic event, where three energy thought leaders each had 10 minutes to talk about an energy challenge - with props - and persuade the audience theirs was the best. The game show format was fun, but don't let that fool you. Each had a timely and relevant message to share that causes you to re-think what energy means in 2016.

My role was to MC the session and keep things moving along to the end where the audience cast their ballots to choose a winner. Being ETS - and being in Austin - we did things a bit differently. As you'll see in the video clip, the speakers had to write the title of their talk on a chalkboard - can't get more old school than that. In keeping with the creative/artsy vibe of Austin, my new piano friend, Adam Lozoya was plucked off the busker-lined streets the night before and provided great ad lib accompaniment throughout the session. On top of that, we held the session in an improv theater space at the back of a nearby cafe.

You won't see this at other conferences, and it was a lot of fun. It's part of what makes ETS unique, and am glad to be part of it. So, explore at your leisure - the whole session is captured below - it runs about 45 minutes, and I won't give the winner away here. Hopefully, you'll watch the whole thing, and if you do, I'd love to hear who you think was the best. You up for that?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mitel/Polycom Deal - our UCStrategies Podcast

If you're still wondering about what this deal means in the UCC space, our recent podcast on the Mitel/Polycom deal will be time well spent. As you may know, our group at UCStrategies covers the gamut among both analysts and consultants, so collectively, we've got a pretty good handle on the implications for both companies and the market in general.

I know this will be old news for some, but I've been away/offline 9 days, and didn't catch any fish. It was a great trip, though, but that's for another time.

For now, I hope you visit the UCStrategies portal, and give our podcast a listen. Comments as always, are welcome, and we'd love to hear whether you think this form of consolidation is good or bad for the market.

Otherwise, back to work, and I have a ton of postings to catch up on and share, so more to come.