Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Feb. 8 Webinar - Buying UC and Selling UC

Am doing another webinar with the Ziff Davis B2B group. It's on Friday, Feb. 8, at 2pm EST.

As the title implies, there are two aspects to getting UC going inside your company. First, you need to buy UC, and that actually entails quite a few things. Perhaps just as important, though, you have to sell it - IT needs a lot of buy-in to make this work. I'll be exploring 3 angles there - selling yourself on UC, and then getting buy-in from management and end users. I'm not going to say which has to happen first, but the buying and selling of UC are equally important.

So, if you're wondering just how you should go about this journey, you'll want to join us. The webinar is free, and here's the link for more details about what I'll be talking about, as well as how to register - just takes a minute.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Next Stop - Miami and ITExpo

Living in Toronto, it's a great time of year for Miami Beach, and that's where my first travels of 2013 are taking me. I'll be at TMC's flagship event, the ITExpo, where the winter edition has a nice home at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

If you've been following me, you'll know I'm a regular there, and this show has survived, thrived and keeps things fresh by covering the gamut of IP communications. It's fair to say things are spread impossibly thin, and one person can only take in so much, but you can't go there and not learn something new. Lots to look forward to as always, and to keep tabs from wherever you are, follow their twitter feed - @ITExpo - and it couldn't hurt to track @TMCnet as well.

I won't be hard to find, and would be happy to hear from you. I'll be taking part in Editor's Day tomorrow, and will be briefing with companies from 4-6pm. During the next 2 days, I'll be moderating 3 panels, which you can get details on by scrolling through the conference program here. I've also been blogging about each panel the past few days, and details are also posted on my website.

Enough about me - how about you - will you be there?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

ITExpo Shout-Out #3 - Turning UC into Revenue

I don't mean to confuse you, as this message isn't meant for IT managers deploying UC - although that could be a worthwhile topic to explore - creatively. What I'm talking about here is for service providers - how they can leverage Unified Communications as a way to drive new revenues. This is pretty much a mobility story, where operators are struggling to keep up with our ever-changing wants - you can call them needs, but we've survived for thousands of years without these goodies - to satiate our smartphone and tablets obsessions. There's definitely money to be made here, and UC actually provides a lot of value to businesses trying to make sure their employees stay productive when out of the office.

That's the set-up, and for the rest, you'll have to join us next Thursday at 3:30 for our panel. I'm moderating, and will be joined by Chris Carabello of Metaswitch, Leslie Ferry of BroadSoft and Payam Maveddat of Taqua. These are all familiar faces for me, so it should be a lively session.

So, where and when? Almost forgot - Miami Beach - you ok with that? Of course, it's TMC's ITExpo, and this is the third session I'm moderating at the show, so I won't be hard to find. As with my earlier posts about my sessions, you can get all the details here - just scroll down to Thursday and you'll find us on the Service Provider Solutions track. See you there!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ITExpo Shout-Out - My Panel, The Optimal Customer Experience

Am just continuing my posts in advance of next week's ITExpo in Miami. It's -100 here in Toronto, so South Beach is looking better by the minute.

I'm moderating two panels on Wednesday, and this is my second one - at 1:30 on the Customer Interaction track. The full title is The Real Business Value of an Optimal Customer Experience, and as you might expect, we'll be talking about how the contact center can improve that experience and ultimately makes customers more loyal.

Joining me will be Lisa Abbott from Genesys, Brent Morgan from Interactive Intelligence, and Ann Sung Ruckstuhl from LiveOps. Should be a good one, and you can get more details here, then scroll down to our session, where all the info will pop up.

Monday, January 21, 2013

ITExpo Miami - My Contact Center Panel - "Can You Hear Me Now?"

TMC's ITExpo East starts next Tuesday, and I'll be moderating three panels, as well as participating in Editor's Day on Tuesday. I'll do a preview post for each panel, and let's start with the first one.

My first panel is at 9am on Wednesday, titled Contact Center Customer Experience: More than “Can You Hear Me Now?”. The basic idea is to explore how to make the experience better for customers beyond providing decent call quality. This presents some challenges to IT, since their domain is usually internal when it comes to communications. When customer satisfaction is on the line, it doesn't pay to be underwhelming, and we'll talk about approaches IT can take to get the opposite result.

Joining me will be Rick McFarland of Voice4Net, Theresa Szczurek of Radish Systems and Steve Shalita of  Netscout Systems. We're part of the Customer Interaction Track, and you can read up on the speakers and our topics on the Program page of the show website - just scroll down to the Wednesday sessions.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

AudioCodes One Voice - Another Take

Pretty hectic week here, so this will be short. On Monday, AudioCodes announced One Voice, which is basically an integrated solution to voice-enable Microsoft Lync. Notice that they don't call it telecom - it's a subtle way to say you can do voice without an IP PBX, which by extension makes/keeps the desktop at the center of your communications environment. Some vendors partner with Microsoft and others compete with them, and it's an interesting time to see how the various classes of vendors hold their own, given all the disruption from the cloud and mobility in particular.

Many aspects of this announcement really tie into UC, so I'm going to continue this thread by steering you to the UCStrategies portal, where my analysis was posted this morning. I'm keen to know if you agree with my take on things, as I see One Voice as a sign that PCs aren't going away any time soon, and another indication as to how hard Microsoft is trying to leverage their footprint and provide the complete solution for businesses to communicate with.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Deloitte Predictions 2013 - Takeaways

This is the 12th year that Deloitte has published TMT Predictions, and during the few years, this has really grown into a big event. TMT is their Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice, and I have been friendly with their group here in Toronto for a while. I've blogged about previous Predictions events, and feel free free to search  my archive to see how the event has evolved.

Duncan Stewart is Deloitte Canada's Director of Research, and as the public face of Predictions, he did his usual first-rate job pacing us through the highlights. The overall scope is beyond my everyday coverage, but the trends are fascinating for sure. No big surprises for me, but it's nice to see the trends presented with so much substance behind them. I'll just share a few top-line takeaways here, and then steer you to their site, where you can download the research and read further for yourself - and you really should.

1. Wireless spectrum - like real estate, they're not making this any more, and this is the year we run up against a mobile spectrum deficit. Demand, of course, is being driven by data - gee, who talks on their mobile phones any more? - and given the out of control growth, you knew this day was coming. Needless to say, prices must rise to get supply and demand back in synch, so watch for new tiers of mobile data plans in 2013.

2. Who said PCs are dead? Duncan - and others - have been talking about the post-PC era for a while now,  but it's a bit misleading. Mobile devices - tablets and smartphones - have finally bypassed PCs in terms of units, but by far, we spend most of our online time on the PC. He shared some nice metrics, and I'll be citing those in another post, so I'll keep you in suspense for now - or just go read the research.  :-)

3. Enterprise social networks - a good idea, but...  nobody really uses them. As popular as these things are - however you want to define them - most people use them in a passive way. It's too bad, given that they're generally free, so they can be a useful platform to share knowledge and communicate. I guess there's just something about free applications that spooks people. It's easy to collect contact names and build out your address book, but not many of us actually turn this into gold. I can think of a few reasons why, but until Mark Zuckerberg or Reid Hoffman bring me into their inner circles, I'll hold on to those thoughts. Wouldn't you?

Enough for now. This is just a taste of what Deloitte's research has come up with, and I hope you dig deeper - here's the link. They've got a pretty good track record, and I think you'll find this time well spent.

Friday, January 11, 2013

UC Channel Challenges and 8x8's Approach

For this week's UCStrategies podcast, we tried something different. Our format is usually a closed shop with UCS Experts talking about a specific topic. That works well, and if you like what the usual suspects in our group have to say, then I'm sure you're eagerly anticipating  each podcast.

We're sticking to the formula, but are also mixing things up a bit. This week is the first time we had a guest join us, namely Don Trimble, VP North American Sales, 8x8. As you likely know, 8x8 is one of earliest players in the hosted services space, which has now come into its own under the amped up cloud umbrella.

This is not a long infomercial for 8x8 - far from it. Rather, the focus was on channel-related issues and challenges for selling/supporting cloud, so we took turns posing our questions to Don. We found it a great opportunity to explore these topics first hand with a provider who is living it every day. Overall, the results were pretty much as advertised, and the conversation was balanced on both sides. Am sure we'll do it again soon, but for now, if channel is on your mind for UC - or if you're an 8x8 fan, the podcast and transcript can be found here. Enjoy - and kudos to Dave Michels for keeping the conversation and giving all of us a chance to jump in.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 Contact Center Trends - Three Wise Guys on Google Hangouts

A couple of weeks back, Fonolo's Shai Berger hosted a fun analyst roundtable on Google Hangouts. Bigger companies spend tons of money doing webinars, podcasts, etc. - of which I'm often a happy beneficiary - but there are lots of tools out there to do a nice job without spending anything. Google Hangouts is one such tool, and kudos to Shai for not being shy (yes, that rhymes - now you know!) to go this route.

Shai, of course, is widely followed on his Customer Service Blog, which you can find on the company's website (and often on Twitter), and that's where you can find the replay of our roundtable. I'm one of the analysts, along with Dave Michels and Dan Miller, and we had no shortage of things to talk about.

To make life easier, Fonolo has broken things up into shorter segments, based on specific topics, so feel free to graze as we cover things like social media, mobility, virtual queuing, the cloud, IVR, etc. I found Google Hangouts easy to use and the results turned out pretty well.

The clips were just posted today, and here's the link. So, have fun, and if the mood strikes, pass it around and let us know what you think. What else would you like to see us cover next time around?

Also, when you're done, you can download Fonolo's free short report, Top 10 Customer Service Trends for 2013.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rethinking the Contact Center/2013 Greetings!

Been a pretty spotty few weeks for blogging, but I'm not alone on that front. Am slowly getting back into work mode - one gear at a time, but should be fully engaged next week. Sure hope your 2013 is off to a good start!

I can't complain - got a full plate of writing, a couple of new consulting engagements about to start, and some speaking/moderating spots at two conferences over the next few weeks. I'm also still active in smart grid, via my association with Zpryme Research, and we just kicked off a series of forecasts that are part of a broader premium service that covers the hottest topics in this space with an ongoing series of reports.

Speaking of conferences, one of those is ITExpo, less than a month away in Miami Beach - can't wait. I'll be moderating three panels there, and you'll be hearing more about that shortly. On that note, the current iteration of my Rethinking Communications column is running in TMC's flagship Internet Telephony magazine. I missed posting this earlier - it's been out a couple of weeks now - sorry about that.

Anyhow, the article is titled Rethinking the Contact Center, a topic I've been writing about a fair bit lately. The theme should be self-evident, and I'd love for you to give it a read and let me know if you're thinking about rethinking is similar to mine - or not.