Friday, April 22, 2016

Gone Fishing

This doesn't happen often, but  it's time to disappear for a while - back in a week or so!

Flashback Friday - Cisco Telepresence Turns 5 - Oct. 2011

The longer you blog, the bigger the archive, and for those only recently following me, you wouldn't know my earlier posts unless you went hunting. With time comes perspective, and I thought it would be fun to re-post some older posts, so am starting this Flashback Friday theme. Not sure if I'll do this weekly or whenever, so let's see how this one flies.

If you enjoy revisiting interesting points in time for the communications space - or are just wondering about things like "what were those VON events all about?", "what was life like before twitter?", or "I had no idea about Huntsville, AL!", I think you'll enjoy these flashbacks. Or, if there's something in particular you'd like to re-visit or discover, let me know and I'll see what I've got. Am sure many of you, like me, are students of history, and having blogged regularly since 2005, I've got a lot of posts, and have seen a lot of things happen.

So, here's my first Flashback Friday post. The UC&C market has largely moved away from telepresence, but it sure was a game-changer and Cisco bet pretty heavily on it. Not so much today, but here's my post from 2011 marking it's five year anniversary.

As an aside, the video clip at the bottom is from my YouTube channel, and is the most-viewed clip I've ever posted. I hardly post video any more, but maybe I'll start again soon. If you wander about there, you'll see lots of interviews from conferences, as well as a bunch of music clips of mine from bands playing at various conferences. I'll get around to some of those on future Flashback Friday posts.

So, here we go, and if you want to view the post directly from my blog archive, here's the link.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cisco TelePresence Turns Five

I put up a short tweet about this yesterday (and if you're not following me there, well, you don't know what you're missing - sign up... @arnoldjon)- but amidst all the other things keeping me busy right now, I realized it needs more attention. Just wanted to add a few thoughts here.

So, the first question to ask now that Cisco has reached the five year milestone with telepresence is the same one I would have asked back in 2006. Aside from the fact that back then nobody really knew what to call it, I'll simply ask - is it telepresence or TelePresence? I'm still 50/50 on this one, and as a rule of thumb, when I'm talking about Cisco, it's "T", but for the category as a whole, it's "t".

Branding is just as important in tech as any other business, and if you toe the Cisco line, you will believe they invented everything around this space and by rights, then, it's TelePresence, period. Of course, they're not the only game in town, and weren't even first to market, but nobody does tech branding for business better than Cisco. The consumer market is another story, but let's not go there for now.

Whether or not Cisco is the Kleenex of telepresence - much like I used to say that Vonage was the Kleenex of VoIP - you really need to give some props here. I think they've earned it, and when John Chambers talks about making big bets and capitalizing on market transitions, I think he got it right with Telepresence. There, I said it - with a capital T.

I don't really think it matters that Cisco's lead offering is hugely expensive - they've been the frontrunners in immersive TP from Day 1, and now that Tandberg is in the fold, I think they'll stay there. It's a bit like complaining that the biggest stars in pro sports are overpaid. In absolute terms, that's absolutely true. Only whiny sportswriters care about that - it's the relative basis that really matters. So long as those athletes live up to expectations (and that's a big IF - hello John Lackey and Carl Crawford - I digress...), and big market teams like my Red Sox are willing to pay the freight, all is in balance. There are buyers and sellers at all price levels, and the market ultimately defines value. Cisco Telepresence may be out of reach for SMBs, but their book of business with the enterprise crowd is doing just fine, thank you.

That leads me to yesterday's announcement, which talks about some updates to their offering and how Cisco TelePresence can now reach a broader market. I'll save the details for another time, but the main thing is that Cisco is evolving the product as market conditions require. Again, this brings me back to why this five year milestone is worth reflecting on. We didn't have tablets or Android then, and the smartphone market was basically RIM and Nokia. You don't need me to tell you what's come along since, and that video has now become pretty mainstream for everybody.

As a result, Cisco needs to evolve its TP portfolio to cater to these new - and emerging opportunities, some of which didn't exist 2-3 years ago. Of course, Cisco would love to own every segment of the TP and collaboration market, but that's not going to happen, esp with all the free/OTT offerings out there that I've been writing about here and elsewhere recently.

Regardless, Cisco has done a lot of things right with TelePresence, and these new twists are just ensuring they'll have a place across all market tiers. More than that, Cisco wants be to remain at the innovation forefront with this technology, because if they don't, those fearsome interlopers - Apple and Google - will take their spot. I'm not saying that Cisco has all the great innovations here, but when it comes to delivering a value proposition that businesses are willing to pay for, they know what they're doing. This ground is going to be harder to defend as these other players continue to make inroads, but if anyone can to do it, it's Cisco.

Finally, for those of you sticking with me here to the end, you get a prize. If you want to step in the wayback machine to see what TP looked like at the beginning, here's a video clip I took of my first live demo at Cisco's Canadian HQ here in Toronto, back in December 2006. This clip is on my YouTube channel, which you're welcome to explore. I'm not posting video there these days - I don't know why - but wanted to share this as a sidebar to Cisco's fifth anniversary for TP. I was there at the beginning, and to show you how much interest there is out there around TP, this clip has by far received more views - over 100,000 - than anything else I've ever posted, and - as you'll see on the site, to this day, I'm STILL getting comments about that clip. How's that for the long tail of the Internet? If I could just find a way to make this pay...

Monday, April 18, 2016

My UC Expo Article: Flexible Working - Adapting to New Challenges

Among other things, I contribute occasional articles to U.K.-based Enterprise Management 360, with my latest being this one, in support of the upcoming UC Expo in London. I won't be participating at this conference, but am hoping to for their follow-on event later this year.

The cloud and future of work are big themes for the expo, and my article focuses on flexible working. If you're attending UC Expo, you'll see it in their special Preview Magazine to support/promote the event. Otherwise, you can read it here in the digital edition, starting on page 20. You can also access it from the UC Expo website - just scroll down a bit on the homepage, and you can't miss the info about how you can read it online.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Toronto - We're Number 11!

It's not every day that I get to say Toronto, Dell and Harvard in the same sentence, but we were all in the room together earlier this week, and am doing my civic duty here.

I've been developing some good relationships recently with Dell, and the stars lined up for me on Tuesday to participate in a panel as part of a Dell Canada event here in Toronto. This was a new event for me - Power To Do More - but it included a session with analysts, press, Dell Canada customers, and most notably Prof. David Ricketts from Harvard.

For background, Dell sponsored the 2015 Strategic Innovation Summit, which was convened by Harvard, with Dr. Rickerts serving as the summit's General Chair. Briefly, the summit focused on harnessing the forces of change - mostly tech-related of course - to drive the "innovation-based economy" of tomorrow.

Lots of good insights came out of this summit, and Dr. Ricketts was on hand to discuss them in a group setting. The newsworthy highlight came in the form a list of top 50 global cities that the research deemed as being most "future ready". I'm not going to break down the methodology or full listing here, but you can get all the key takeaways in the press release issued by Dell Canada in support of this event.

I find this research fascinating, and Toronto certainly comes out looking good, ranking at #11. We all love to shout "we're #1", but San Jose has a lock on that spot, and #11 is not too shabby. I'm not alone among Toronotians who can effortlessly spout all our shortcomings, but as liveable cities go, TO is pretty hard to beat.

Given that I also wear a smart grid/smart cities hat, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a hat tip as well to Austin, which came in even higher in the global rankings at #7. Having just served as the Community Advocate for last month's Energy Thought Summit in Austin, I can tell you first hand this is an up and coming city - looks like the next San Francisco to me - and they are doing some very cool and smart things, especially in the energy space. For a taste of that, here's my blog post with some highlights from ETS16, and for our broader thought leadership on energysmart cities - including mine - feel free to check out the News tab here.

Coming back to Dell/Harvard, what the research is really focused on is the extent to which leading cities have the right mix of attributes to sustain economic growth, and the authors break this down into three core dimensions - human capital, infrastructure and commerce.

There's lots more to explore here, but for now I'm just doing a shout-out to share TO's good news. As well, kudos to Dell for sponsoring this research, and as I get more involved with their IoT practice, I'll have to more to say about what cities need to do to be globally competitive, as well as how best to use technology to help make that happen.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Lowering the Barriers to UC with the Cloud - My New Post

My writing takes many forms - as it has to these days - and one of them is on a partnership basis. Regular followers will know that I'm part of UCStrategies, and contribute a monthly column - new one coming next week - along with participating in our regular podcasts.

Another is authoring thought leadership on behalf of sponsors who engage with UCStrategies to help educate the market about industry trends and new technologies. AT&T is one such sponsor, and as part of an ongoing program with them, I was tasked to write about how I see the cloud as an enabler for UC adoption. There are lots of reasons for enterprises to push back on the cloud, but plenty of others to embrace it, and that's what I focused on in this article.

AT&T may be the sponsor of this series, but the content is largely mine. The writing may have gone through many corporate review cycles, but as you'll see, it's my independent voice in the article. There's always a balance to strike with sponsors, but I think you'll agree it's pretty objective, and hopefully you'll find it helpful as you think about UC and the best way to get full value.

The post is running now on the UCStrategies portal, and if you like my writeup, look around a bit, as there are some other articles there from the AT&T series that are you'll enjoy just as well.

Monday, April 11, 2016

My Next Webinar - Hosted VoIP for SMBs

VoIP adoption still has a long way to go among SMBs, and the best validation for that is how crowded the hosted space has become. With cloud poised to become the option of choice for telephony, SMBs have a lot to choose from, ranging from incumbents, cablecos, CLECs, OTTs and even SIs.

My upcoming Ziff Davis webinar focuses on why conditions are well aligned now for SMBs, as well as a review of persistent holdbacks that have kept VoIP from taking over the world since entering the telephony space back in 1995.

The webinar date is Wednesday, May 25, so you've got time to make plans. Since the registration page was posted the other day, I might as well do an early shout-out now. All the details are here, and if you don't know your May plans yet, I'll post here again as we get closer to the date.

Friday, April 8, 2016

My VoIP Group Interview - Spotlight on the LatAm Market

Sometimes content gets generated in a few seconds, and other times much longer. This falls into the latter category, as do most things that are published and go through editorial review. I actually have another example of this set to run next week, and I'll update that in due course.

For now, the story is my interview with Alfredo Bellagamba, CEO of Brazil-based VoIP Group. I didn't know this company until I met with Alfredo for an interview during the recent ITExpo event in Ft. Lauderdale. They have a good story to tell, and it's a great example of what goes on in the VoIP space outside of North America. LatAm is a major market in its own right, and VoIP Group seems to be in the middle of most everything going on there.

My interview was published this week on TMCnet as a featured article, and I hope you give it a read.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why Are We Still Using Email?

That's a good question, and that's the title of my current column in Internet Telephony Magazine, and is a follow-on to my previous column, titled Why Are We Still Using Desk Phones?

These are valid questions and they speak to a radically changing landscape driven both by new technology and changing expectations among end users. There's a lot to explore here, and you might be surprised by the issues raised in my column. I hope you give it a read - and the previous one - and if either spurs a reaction, I'd love to hear from you and even more so if you care to share.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Next Stop - Chicago and Cisco

Still feeling the vibe from last week's Energy Thought Summit in Austin, and am increasingly optimistic that utilities will figure this transformation out as they modernize for the digital world. We think of the Internet as being all-important, but it's not compared to the true necessities of life. After food and water, nothing matters more than power, and as this becomes more of a demand-driven market, it's really interesting watching how utilities adapt.

There are parallels happening in the customer care space, and Cisco is at the forefront of how vendors are adapting to changing demands and expectations from the marketplace. Contact centers are assessing the business value of the cloud and new approaches like omnichannel, as well as trying to figure out how to map the customer journey before their customers wander off someplace else.

Am going to Chicago tomorrow for a short analyst event with Cisco focused on customer care, and look forward to hearing where Cisco is on their own journey to strengthen their hold on the contact center market.

Friday, April 1, 2016

March Writing Roundup

Busy month, yeah.

Had two conferences at the back end of the month - Channel Partners, and ETS16 - from which I just returned late last night. So, aside from my regular writing stints, I produced a lot of content for the GetVoIP blog from Channel Partners, along with my smart grid thought leadership around ETS16 - and more of that to come. Here's a summary of what I was up to in March.

Channel Partners Takeaways -What Millennials, Mobility and 5G Mean for UC, UCStrategies, March 31

ETS16 - Day 1 Quick Hits, March 30, my blog

What Else SMBs need to do to Ensure UC Provides Flexibility, March 29,

Channel Partners Spotlight on Vonage - What Makes Them a Good Partner, March 25, GetVoIP blog

Microsoft at Channel Partners - "We're Partner Friendly", March 25, GetVoIP blog

Channel Partners Spotlight on Nextiva - Winning Those Loose Balls, March 22, GetVoIP blog

8x8's State of Channel Program, March 21, GetVoIP blog

Intel Q&A - Utilities and the Internet of Things, March 18, ETS Insights

How UC Brings Flexibility to Your Business, March 17,

Channel Parters Conference - First Take, March 16, GetVoIP blog

Why SMBs Aren't Adopting UC, March 14,

Why Are We Still Using Desk Phones?, March 9, Internet Telephony Magazine

S&C Electric Q&A, Part 2 - Energy Storage Opportunities, March 8, ETS Insights

Allconnect Q&A - News Ways to Connect with Customers, March 8, ETS Insights

Why VoIP Hasn't Yet Replaced Legacy Telephony, March 7,

Humans - Bringing the Personal Touch to Energy, March 7, ETS Insights

Univago - Solving Video from the Cloud, March 4, my blog