I spent the better part of Voicecon talking to vendor executives about their companies' UC visions. In many cases, these were centered around some vague notion of making communication easier by bonding voice, video and chat into a unified whole. Frankly, they are all skinning the same cat, which is fine, but I don't see video-conferencing being able to sustain excitement for too long. Sure, it's all shiny and new when you first see it, but on a daily basis it becomes just another medium. Vision has to capture the imagination and propel people into action. In this sense, according to my unscientific survey of vision on Voicecon, Avaya is the clear winner.
Ok, I know that buyers don't purchase vision, they purchase products. But vision tells you where a company is going, which is important to know when you are going to invest in their products. Through the use of their products (or a competitor's), a company's vision can open up ideas and opportunities that you hadn't thought of. If you think vision is only for analysts and the press, you're missing the boat. The problem with a lot of vision is that it is lifeless and dull, not that it is useless altogether.
When I talked to Avaya, they didn't want to talk about their products or partnerships much. (Well, Aura being a notable exception as the SIP integration point for Avaya's and partner's product lines.) They wanted to talk about what can be done with unified communications that went far beyond video-conferencing. Unified communications is more than voice and video to Avaya, it's a platform with unexplored opportunities.
They described a use-case in a hospital, a pilot project actually, called Code Blue, which ties in with a hospital's location and communications system. When an emergency happens, like a cardiac emergency, rather than everyone running to the room to assist with carts and other equipment, attempts to locate the people with the required skills, proximity and availability to the room, as well as necessary equipment, better ensure a positive outcome. That's a pretty powerful vision.
Now, take that similar case to your business. If you're customer-facing, and you get a customer who is having trouble and is getting frustrated, if you could identify the problem and quickly source the expertise to solve their problem efficiently, what would that do for customer retention and satisfaction? Think about your usual support interactions.Mike Fratto is a principal analyst at Current Analysis, covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. Prior to that, Mike was with UBM Tech for 15 years, and served as editor of Network Computing. He was also lead analyst for InformationWeek Analytics ... View Full Bio