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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mobile UC To Push Business Communications in 2008

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

December 16, 2007

How Mobility and UC Will Really Change The Pace of Business Communications in 2008

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Perhaps I should start off this piece with the recent important news that Verizon Wireless is going to open up its network to any device and any application that meets minimum standards. Although this doesn’t immediately solve all the problems of interoperability and support that multimodal UC communications demands both inside and outside of the enterprise, it is a good sign that things are starting to change in a constructive way. This announcement comes just a week after I challenged the wireless carriers to support open mobile OSs, device independence, and any enterprise applications that need to contact mobile subscribers.

UC Means ALL Business Communications

Now that the term “unified communications” (UC) has subsumed real-time telephony, wired and wireless connectivity, and all forms of messaging, it has become synonymous for all aspects of business communications. It has also become increasingly difficult to define everything that UC is really supposed to do for the enterprise. Microsoft and its Alliance partner Nortel wisely recognized this problem last year, and proceeded to establish hundreds of demonstration sites around the world in order to show business management what UC does for business operations and end users, rather than just explain how the technology infrastructure works.

This marketing strategy follows the advice given by a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Chip Heath, to business leaders in a McKinsey Quarterly interview for delivering a “message that sticks” to their various enterprise constituencies. Heath’s research into successful communications highlights the need for “simplicity, concreteness, and surprise.”

Because UC will affect people both within and outside an organization (business partners, customers), it is essential that the benefits of UC resonate with everyone involved in business communications. One way to highlight new benefits is to simply describe, in concrete ways, how business communications will be different from the way we used to do things in the past, particularly in the use of the telephone. Because every end user will have different perceptions of value from UC application capabilities, they really need to see where “the shoe fits” their particular operational needs and job responsibilities.

Simplifying The User Perspective of UC – Contacting People Quickly Any Way

From the bottom line perspective of business performance, UC is all about making contact and communicating with people easily, flexibly, and quickly in a variety of ways. This is important to any enterprise because people are key to business process efficiency and revenue generation performance, but are not always accessible or available for every form of contact, either as contact initiators or as contact recipients. In addition, real-time contacts now increasingly include text messaging alternatives to voice conversations, such as two-way Instant Messaging exchanges and immediate text message delivery through SMS to mobile devices. With the growth of online social networking, even simple messaging is getting more multimedia.

Since business process efficiency is usually most dependent on initiating contacts, ease and flexibility must be provided for those functions. This applies to both human initiators, who don’t necessarily know who is qualified and available or how to contact them at any point in time, as well as to any high-value automated business process applications. Such applications have the same contact initiation problems as people to proactively make real-time contacts directly with appropriate human recipients (notifications, alerts, confirmations, etc.).

Because communicating with people has now become multi-modal, i.e., real-time voice/video conversations and instant messaging vs. asynchronous voice /text messaging using a variety of wired desktop or mobile wireless devices, there is no single, common way to contact people any more. For maximum business process flexibility and efficiency, therefore, people must be able to both initiate and receive contacts in whatever form works for them individually at the moment. Such flexibility will be dependent upon both the devices and communication services available to them at the moment, as well as upon their dynamically changing environmental circumstances. Furthermore, if a real-time contact with a person is not possible at the moment for any reason, then, if appropriate, contact on an “As Soon As Possible” (ASAP) basis must be efficiently facilitated.

In order to achieve such business contact efficiencies with people, as opposed to traditional social “person-to-person” contacts, they must shift to “person-to-process-to-person” contacts, where intelligent communication processes optimize contact flexibility and time efficiencies for all parties. Such ‘contextual” intelligence removes the need for contact initiators to be responsible for personally knowing how to contact a person quickly and easily. The benefits will be not just faster work flows that pay off to business operations wherever people are involved, but also in lower costs for business process task performance, less “pain” in contacting people, and greater individual user productivity in doing their jobs.

“Concreteness” and “Surprises:” How Will Mobile UC Change Traditional Business Communications?

Because communicating with people is always going to be different for individual users and their business environments, every business and every end user will see different “surprises” in using UC capabilities. So, rather than separate out concrete examples of UC, I would rather point at the fundamental changes and innovations in communication alternatives that will emerge and evolve through UC capabilities. We have already seen dramatic changes in business communications simply because of new forms of contact, e.g., the emergence of email, voice mail, Instant messaging, cellular phones, SMS, Push-to-talk, etc. However, making them all interwork dynamically, seamlessly, and more efficiently under the umbrella of UC is a different ballgame. UC is not necessarily about changing the various ways of contacting and communicating with people, but rather about enabling individual users to dynamically and selectively exploit both old and new ways of communicating that are most efficient and effective for their individual needs at the moment.

On the other hand, traditional telephony will be a big target for the most drastic changes in business contact procedures, since it has traditionally been based upon the inflexibilities of wired connections, restrictive user interfaces, and location-based devices. So, not only will business calls “integrate” with flexible messaging facilities, but, from a user perspective, all aspects of traditional call management will be changing as well. Much of what will happen to business call management will be derived from the experience of traditional customer call center technologies that can now be implemented more efficiently through IP telephony infrastructures and multimodal endpoint devices.

Here are some of the basic functional ways that UC will change business communications (telephony, messaging) for both users and the business processes that they are involved with:

· “Contextual” Presence and Availability – The ability to talk to a person will become more dependent upon both the context of such need and the real-time availability of any qualified person. Such contact contexts will be derived from many on-line information sources (Reports, documents, databases, messages, address books, availability dashboards, etc.) that will reflect current status and availability for real-time contacts, as opposed to a simple asynchronous message.

Bottom line: Contact initiators will not have to wait or waste time figuring out who and how to contact a person that can assist them, both factors that contribute to the “human latency” inefficiency in business process performance.

· Proactive Notifications From Automated Business Process Applications - Rather than depend upon a particular human to manually monitor situations that may require real-time attention, e.g., in service environments, then have them attempt to contact other people to resolve such issues, automated monitoring processes will be able to initiate and coordinate all necessary human contacts directly with any available staff resources and any affected service users.

Bottom line: Problems are identified and resolved more quickly with minimized human latency because of limiting communications accessibility to only specific people. Such proactive, multimodal contacts will be applicable to internal enterprise personnel, business partner personnel, and, perhaps most importantly, to customers who may be negatively affected.

· Multimodal Messaging Communications - A major benefit of UC is the flexibility it offers for both contact initiators and recipients to communicate in any form that is most convenient at the moment. That includes all forms of voice and text messaging, whether from a desktop or a handheld mobile device, exploiting “unified” message mailboxes for either business or personal contacts. Such flexibility enables individual users to communicate as soon as possible in any messaging mode that is available to them, without regard to what facilities the recipient(s) have.

Bottom line: Contact initiators will not have to wait or waste time figuring out what form of messaging will work for their message recipients, including immediate urgent message notifications and delivery.

· Instant” Conferencing - For voice conversations and conference calling, UC facilitates “instant” conferencing connections, independent of location and particular type of device available to a call participant. However, because such real-time contacts are not always immediately possible for all participants, UC facilities can initiate and coordinate conferencing arrangements to be implemented on an “As Soon As Possible” basis.

Bottom line: Contact initiators will not have to waste time figuring out how to coordinate any two-person or multi-party conference voice or video call, where specific participants are not necessarily known, are located anywhere, have different availability schedules and priorities, and use different communication devices and services.

Because conferencing is critical to improving business process workflow bottlenecks, and because business travel, particularly in a global economy, is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, the cost reduction and productivity benefits of teleconferencing provide the greatest benefits to any form of distributed enterprise operations.

· “Transmodal” Communications - Not only will end users have greater choices in selecting a particular form of communication contact that suits their immediate circumstances for contact initiation, but they will also be able to dynamically and seamlessly change and escalate from any form of contact to another modality that is more appropriate. This would include moving from a non-real-time-to a real-time connection, moving from text messaging to voice calls, or moving from a person-to-person contact to a multi-party “instant” conference.

Bottom line: Contact recipients will be able to respond more effectively, quickly and easily by switching to other modalities of communications than selected by the contact initiator. In some case, e.g., where a message exchange proves to be inadequate, the shift to a voice conversation can be quickly and mutually performed without disruptive delays.

Note that the “bottom line” business benefits are not simply focused on reduced technology costs, but rather in making business contacts easier and faster for the end users, and therefore faster for the business processes that such end users are involved in.

Preparing For Change – Communicating With Multimodal “Smartphones”

The “telephone,” as a personalized communication device for two-way communications and information access, is already changing from being simply for person-to-person voice conversations. The addition of visual and text entry interfaces is changing the voice and Touchtone -only device to being able to communicate much more flexibly and efficiently with people, business process applications, and services. By enabling handheld wireless mobility, the next generation of consumer, the teenagers, is already exploiting maximum personalized accessibility for all of the above activities.

Enterprise organizations therefore need to prepare for how their end users will use the new “smartphones” devices, both handheld and at the desktop, in ways that may be different but hopefully more efficient and effective than the legacy voice-only phones of the past. Although some people are claiming that the mobile “smartphone” is going to become much like a PC, as a handheld device with I/O limitations, they won’t really be the same for information access.

With handheld mobility, we have to rethink the different ways that end users will be able to communicate optimally for business in the future. This will include all communication functions as either contact initiators and contact recipients who will be communicating:

· Desktop-to-desktop

· Desktop-to-mobile

· Mobile-to-mobile

· Mobile-to-desktop

Managing The New I/O For Business Process Applications – People!

Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP), being aggressively pushed by Avaya, lends itself nicely to automating applications by including people as output targets and not just information output devices like printers, displays, storage, other application servers, etc. The big difference, of course, is people are smart enough to be able to do something useful with such information without being pre-programmed to do so.

As a consequence of dynamically contacting people within business process workflows, business management has to insure that such contacts with people are both flexible and part of the workflow design. This really means treating everyone in the business process as a notification contact point, including available internal staff resources, external partner staff resources, and, last, but not least, affected end users including customers. It also means that UC capabilities have to be available to all contact recipients in order to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of CEBP.

Needless to say, adding this kind of contact initiation intelligence to the design of application workflows is something new for traditional online application designers who never had to worry about who the end user was (except perhaps for security access purposes), or how to contact them. Now, time-sensitive, high value, automated business process applications that will exploit the benefits of UC and CEBP, will have to integrate with presence/availability and “skills-based routing” processes in order to deliver the message to the right person(s) in the fastest and most effective way.

So, IT has another reason to get interested in UC wherever it is automating any business process application contact initiation from a status monitoring perspective, as well as simply enabling “contextual” contact initiation by a user indirectly through any online application (“click-to-contact”). This is where the innovative use of UC will start to appear in every business environment, as enterprise organizations start rethink the use of the telephone business communication needs in the context of UC and mobility.

You can contact me at: or .

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More on Enterprise Mobile UC and Googles Mobile OS

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

November 11, 2007

How Can Enterprise Mobile UC Applications and Mobile Operators Benefit From Google’s Android Mobile OS?

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Everyone with an interest in mobile communications is talking about the Google announcement this past week of its Android open source mobile OS. An “open” mobile OS can open the doors to not only increased consumer usage of different types “smart phones” for multimodal information access, personal contacts, and entertainment needs, but also to support enterprise-controlled mobile business applications (especially Communications Enabled Business Processes or CEBP) for their increasingly mobile employees, business partners, and, of course, their mobile customers.

Unlike Apple’s iPhone announcement at the beginning of this year, which highlighted the iPhone’s beautiful design and form factor to attract consumers, Google aimed at the software infrastructure that will support ANY device design and mobile application that a consumer might want. This leaves the door open for both handset makers and application developers to compete with their own creations for the personalized needs of individual users. Such needs, however, may well be for business usage that must interoperate with enterprise applications.

The U.S. Wireless Carriers – A “Fly in The Ointment?”

My first reaction to the open source approach at the OS level was that it could help lower the costs of both mobile multimodal devices and network services across the board to expand usage in both the consumer and business markets. I also suggested that because the flexibility of adding personalized user applications can add more usage revenue to carriers and service providers, coupled with the potential added carrier revenue from advertising on the smart phone visual interface, the Google announcement would help remove or minimize the traditional “walled gardens” of the wireless carriers. Freedom to access enterprise-controlled applications will be critical to support business users who will want a single, multimodal mobile device and access service for both personal and business use.

Skeptics voiced concern that the wireless carriers, who get most of their revenue directly from individual subscribers, will still “lock up” any phone device that uses the Android mobile OS, in order to control their traditional consumer service offerings. However, because many of those same subscribers are also business users, their multimodal capabilities must really support enterprise UC applications. So, not only will carrier restrictions on mobile devices be disturbing to consumers, as already reported from AT&T’s iPhone experience, but they also stand in the way of carriers generating more usage revenue from mobile business applications that demand device independence. That’s “Cutting your nose off to spite your face!”

Exploiting Multimodal Smart Phones For Mobile Business Users

IP telephony developments have already introduced the notion of mobile phones being able to exploit premise-based wired VoIP and Wi-Fi connections, as well as cellular services from wireless carriers. With capabilities first demonstrated by Avaya with cell phones from Nokia and Motorola under the label of “Extension to Cellular,” what is now referred to as Fixed Mobile Convergence allows business users to use their office number and PBX features from their cell phone, while their personal cell phone number still provided direct access for personal calls on the same mobile device. In addition, cellular connections can be automatically switched to a lower-cost Wi-Fi connection when in range of a premise–based Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) or femtocell.

Now that the mobile communication stakes have jumped up from just voice calls to multimodal communications and business process applications, its time to reconsider the role of mobile devices for both consumer and business UC applications. This is necessary not only to provide personalized flexibility for all individual user communication needs, but also to separate the technology responsibilities of the enterprise for business communications from the particular multimodal mobile device (and network service) that an end user chooses for both personal and business accessibility.

Mobile Enterprise Applications – “Join Them, Don’t Fight Them!”

Inasmuch as the carriers have always wanted to get “wholesale” group subscriptions from the enterprise markets, the software move into open mobile device operating systems can enable enterprise-controlled software clients to share a subscriber’s mobile device. On the other hand, enterprise organizations always want to maintain security control over access to their applications and information from mobile employees, as well as over their business usage charges. With a mobile OS on the device that supports multiple software clients controlled by application servers belonging to either the mobile operator or to an enterprise, everyone, including the individual end users, can be satisfied.

So, with recent consumer FMC announcements from carriers such as BT in the UK and T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S., combined with the flexibility of new, multimodal mobile devices and mobile operating systems, the path to converged, but manageable, business and personal communications looks promising. This trend will be further reinforced by consumers who bring FMC into their home environments through services like HomeZone from Wanadoo.

What Do You Think?

So, what do you think will happen will mobile devices and services at this point in the UC enterprise evolution game? Will business organizations follow the lead of their Web experiences or stick with traditional wired, premise-based telephony thinking?

You can contact me at: or .

My Take on Microsoft’s Approach to UC Migration

I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at:

You might want to now consider the impact of Google’s mobile OS move upon Microsoft’s UC strategy. Microsoft UC applications can still play nice with devices that exploit open Android OS capabilities.

New UC Blogs at UC

Check out my contributions to the new UC Blogs on the UC Strategies web site, where it will be easy for you to put your two cents in on the controversial issues facing enterprise migration to UC. Remember, UC is NOT just about telephony or person-to-person communications!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Google's Android Announcement and Mobile UC

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

November 9, 2007

The Battle For Enterprise Mobile UC – Google’s Android Mobile OS

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

The two big changes that are disrupting traditional business communications are the Internet and wireless end user mobility. Both of these capabilities are also driving the evolution of unified communications (UC). Google’s big announcement this week about it’s open-source mobile OS (“Android”) Open Handset Alliance, is theoretically challenging Microsoft, Symbian, etc., about their role in mobile UC and business applications, as well as the business models that will control mobile service offerings.

First, by going the open source route, it will help break down the traditional “walled gardens” of the carriers. Secondly, with Google’s well-established dominance of web-search and associated advertising revenues to monetize mobile information content, their approach will fit in nicely with new, multimodal “smart phones.” Couple that with enabling their offerings to be free or much lower costs, guess what service providers and subscribers will opt for!

For another market perspective of the open source impact of the Android announcement, check out this Research Alert from Saugatuck Technology at:

So, how will that affect enterprise UC users?

As I have frequently stated in my Unified-View column, mobile business users are the ones who will get maximum benefit from the flexibility of UC because their contact modality will be constantly changing. Sometimes they will need a visual interface, sometimes they will need a hands-free/eyes-free speech interface (driving a car). More recently, with improved speech recognition as a convenient form of input, interactive interfaces can now be a more efficient combination of speech input, text input, and visual output (multimodal interface).

As I have also stated frequently, UC flexibility must support mobile device independence, and as business users start using mobile consumer services and devices that can support business applications, they will expect enterprise UC to support their mobile device of preference. Enterprise security issues can be software controlled with enterprise-provided software clients installed on those open devices to take care of any information or user communication access that is in the governance responsibility of the enterprise. Personal, consumer services (entertainment, social contacts, etc.) can still remain functional, even if the business features are shut down by an enterprise.

What this really means, then, is that mobile devices will become the personalized choice and responsibility of business end users as long as the device operating system enables separate control over business information and communication activities from personal stuff. That kind of mobile security management technology is already available from a number of providers, so the concept just needs a proper operational environment in the form of multimodal devices and an open, mobile OS that supports it all.

New Mobile Device Coming Soon - What Will End Users Go For?

The question now is, what impact will the Google offering have upon personalized, handheld mobile devices, and which combination of mobile device and mobile OS will end users go for? Microsoft has already reacted to the announcement, as well as some bloggers who have made critical comments to the effect that that is all that it is at this point, an announcement. Some critics said similar things about Microsoft’s venture into UC with OCS 2007. However, at this point in the evolution of UC technology, we are looking for both long term direction as well as short term availability of technology that can be both useful and future-proofed.

What Do You Think?

So, what do you think will happen will mobile devices and services at this point in the UC enterprise evolution game? Will they follow the lead of the Web experience or continue with traditional enterprise telephony CPE thinking?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.

My Take on Microsoft’s Approach to UC Migration

I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at:

You might want to consider the impact of Googles mobile OS move upon Microsoft’s UC strategy.

New UC Blogs at UC

This article also kicks off my first contribution to a new blog venue focused on business UC evolution. So check it out!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Using Hosted Services to Migrate to UC

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

October 26, 2007

Feedback From A Large Enterprise on The Role of Hosted UC Services

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

As you can tell from all the press that is being generated by Microsoft’s entry into the world of unified communications, which includes IP telephony, SIP, and VoIP networking, there are many perspectives being thrown at enterprise IT organizations as to how and why they should move forward in migrating to UC. For the smaller business enterprises, the pressure is also starting to build for the VAR channels to jump on the moving UC train. But, the old CPE VAR game may have to change; because it is no longer a matter of selling just CPE-based TDM telephone applications and wired desktop phones, but also device-independent, hosted/managed IP-based UC service options as well.

What About Large Enterprises?

The new complexity of UC, coupled with personalized mobile devices, is bringing the migration challenge to medium and large enterprise organizations as well, and hosted/managed services can play a useful role for them in “crossing the chasm” to UC. One of the highlights of Microsoft’s OCS Launch in San Francisco on October 16th, was the participation of large end users who were trialing the new technology. I not only had the opportunity to hear the presentation given by Rolf Hansmann, Head of Common Services Architecture and New Technologies, for Sanofi Aventis, one of the world’s largest global pharmaceutical companies, but also discussed practical UC implementation issues with him.

As already reported, Hansmann made a clear case for both collaborative interaction speed and flexibility, as well as for complete security, in his company’s development cycle for new pharmaceutical products, the value of which is enormous to their bottom line. However, in a personal conversation following his talk, he acknowledged the potential need and value of using secure, hosted services, while at this time relying on complete control through premise-based technology,

Here is an email exchange that followed up on my conversation with him at the Microsoft OCS Launch.

From: Arthur M. Rosenberg []
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 4:
08 AM
To: Hansmann, Rolf PH/DE
Subject: Good meeting you


I enjoyed hearing your presentation at the Microsoft Launch in San Francisco, as well talking with you afterwards.

I have long been focused on the end users' needs as a prerequisite for what the enterprise must supply in the way of technology services. I certainly appreciate your concerns for information security and I think that can be done by managing information access and limiting personal storage of such data. However, once a person knows the information, how can you possibly prevent them from giving it to someone else in some form or another? There obviously has to some amount of "trust," as well as tracking of individual communication activities.

In addition to security concerns, I think making business contacts more efficient, simplified, and flexible is a general need that UC will help make possible. Given that UC technology will provide such improvements, the next big question is how the enterprise should "migrate" to that future.

I am providing a link to my Microsoft UC white paper that was published back in July. While I certainly appreciate your concerns for having premise-based control over all information and communication activity, I think we are heading towards a hosted/managed service environment that will facilitate the migration to new communication applications, regardless of where the server and client software end up residing.

I am also providing a link to my latest article in BCR magazine that addresses the need for hosted/managed services because of the greater complexity of the UC technologies. Of course it will be most applicable to the SMB market, which doesn't have much in-house IT expertise at all, but I think even larger organizations will find it difficult to create or maintain all that constantly evolving software that gets tied into UC. On the other hand, who will you trust to do that in the future? (You have already mentioned your disappointment with some “UC” software offerings so far, along with high hopes for Microsoft’s OCS.)

I welcome your comments as a "hands-on," real-world enterprise user, and was glad to hear that in your environment, there is beginning to be a "viral" acceptance of UC capabilities from end users. Are you collecting any metrics of productivity yet?

Hope you had a safe trip home.

Best regards,

Art Rosenberg,

The Unified-View

From: Rolf.Hansmann,
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 4:
08 AM
Arthur M. Rosenberg []
Subject: RE: Good meeting You


For me, it was also a pleasure to meet you. I see from all your comments that great minds are thinking very similarly. This is true for almost all areas we talked about and the ones you mention in the eMail. The discussion about the combination of technical security measures and personal trust is one of my favourite discussions with security departments.

I already told them that for total technical security, we can block the network, but for keeping all the secrets a large organization has, we would need to kill all the employees knowing the secrets! (Social hacking is still the easiest way to get information.) So you are absolutely right! In the real world there are two different kinds of boys: one sort puts the nice marbles into the pocket, looks at them at home, and does not show them to anyone else. The other kind of boys take their marbles to the schoolyard and play with the other boys. Yes, this includes the risk of losing marbles, but it is the only way to win more as well.

So, for me security in the confidentiality area is a balance you always need to work on. Do not make it too easy for the competition (and the Chinese) to get your secrets, but do not stop the flow of creative juices within your own organisation. I think Microsoft OCS (MOCS) found a perfect balance for doing this with its Transport Layer Security. It is hard for the IT people to install it, but there are zero additional hurdles for end users to use it.

This leads me to the other part of your eMail and thinking - the external service idea for UC and other services. I am with Dilbert. He said that what we can count on for the next decade is inexperience and ignorance - and that is what will make your ideas useful. IT personnel, mainly the higher levels, often have no clue these days about new technology details and architecture. They are able to address budgets and they are able to reorganize their staffs. Then, IT middle management follows and often do not even try to innovate, but also focus on reducing operational budgets. If organizations would stop concentrating of saving operational cost and concentrate on understanding how IT technology is changing, almost every implementation project could be done for a minimum savings of 10 times less up to a maximum factor of some thousand times cheaper.

In Germany there is the Hercules project claiming to provide non-military communication for the Bundeswehr, our army personnel. They already spent 8 billion € on that for 100,000 people in Germany and claim that they need more money. Comparable projects in the business world do the same thing for 100,000 people worldwide for 5 million €. So my take is, that if IT management would be able to understand the new, “smart” infrastructures and consultants would head in the same direction, they would save tremendous amounts of money in implementations.

Under those circumstances, I would bet on using an internal smart infrastructure as we are doing (and proving with this that we are a good IT managers). But, under the current reality in many organizations, I would agree with you in your BCR article and say, “Given the inexperience of most IT organizations in implementing large but smart and cheap infrastructures, it might be better to start with an external service for commodity functions.”

Regarding productivity metrics, I need to say it is too early to have them for Microsoft OCS. We can speak about Exchange Conferencing here and we do have some of those activity statistics, which can be the baseline to calculate ROI savings from usage of that application.

I need to repeat: I enjoyed the discussion with you and I enjoy continuing that by eMail.


Bill Gates Leads Microsoft Into UC and IP Telephony

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

October 20, 2007

Bill Gates Grabs the Multimodal Torch of UC

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Microsoft’s highly promoted Launch of it’s Office Communication Server 2007 in San Francisco last week was well attended and well documented in the technology press. There should really have been no “new” surprises, since Microsoft has been well publicizing and testing its strategic unified communications (UC) technologies directions for quite a while now, and it has long acknowledged that they are far from being completely finished.

So, the big deal really is about how seriously they are ready to move into the traditional small and large business telephony markets with UC software vs. hardware. Perhaps the biggest indicator of this serious thrust was having Bill Gates take the lead for Microsoft in publicly challenging the diminishing role of hardware-based PBXs and their proprietary desktop telephones in providing voice communications to business organizations and application processes as part of the new, converged world of flexible, “multimodal” unified communications.

Microsoft is not merely saying they have new and better software products that will handle IP telephony and voice messaging traditionally supplied by the telecommunications industry, but emphasizing that they are also supporting the new paradigms of multimodal “presence” management, and more intelligent, “contextual” contact initiation within an enterprise. However, they are still working on making standards-based “federated” presence for telephony available across both enterprise and consumer boundaries to enable what I have dubbed “transmodal communication” to provide increased flexibility and efficiencies for individual and business process productivity.

All this is in addition to reducing the basic costs of implementing and supporting traditional business telephony needs. Inasmuch as Microsoft is already perceived as a leader in the increasingly dominant use of business text messaging (email, IM), it is now moving help to drop the UC shoe on the future role of IP telephony and voice and video conferencing.

Simplifying UC Complexities for End Users

Because extending the capabilities of telephony under the umbrella of multimodal UC also increases the procedural complexity of business communications, Microsoft has focused on the goal of simplicity for its converged UC software products. Keeping the user interface simple is dependent on exploiting both visual interfaces and speech recognition, and both forms of communication interaction were demonstrated during the launch program, including both self-provisioning management and operational usage features. The bottom line of Microsoft’s UC launch was not merely to focus on IP telephony capabilities, but as Bill Gates repeatedly mentioned, to support the flexibility of “multimodal communications.”

Although he didn’t use my term of “transmodal communication,” Gates and other Microsoft speakers frequently described just that in the many examples given of coming UC flexibility. That is where end users can dynamically escalate from one form of business contact to another (asynchronous messages to IM to phone calls to multi-party voice and video conferencing), as the specific communication situation requires. So, come on Microsoft, say it!

UC Migrations And Partnering

By now it is pretty obvious that multimodal UC is not a single, simple “application” within a single enterprise or enterprise location, but rather the seamless interoperability of all forms of business contact and information delivery to people. That means it covers a variety of business communication needs, different business application and communication servers, using different kinds of endpoint devices, and across different kinds of networks. Making all this work efficiently and effectively will mean adding new capabilities, features, and functions, in addition to slowly replacing old, proprietary technologies that TDM telephony is noted for. This, in turn, requires serious partnering, at both the hardware and application software levels. Partnering was a big highlight of the OCS Launch, and you can read all about that in the press write-ups and Microsoft proclamations.

One of the effects of Microsoft’s strong push into the telephony side of UC is that it will be polarizing the industry in terms of interoperability and with other technology and service providers all taking positions relative to both UC in general and specifically to Microsoft relationships. As technology developers move into UC offerings, there will be a lot of overlap and choices, including the options for CPE, hosted and managed services. This overlap will show up particularly in the reseller channels, where the biggest battles will take place for the large SMB market that is ready to get rid of archaic key systems and is ripe for what UC and mobile devices have to offer in the way of services.

As we have pointed out repeatedly, migration to UC will be able to exploit hosted services as a cost effective way for business organizations to selectively “pilot” applications and learn what UC can do for their specific, high-value business processes. Forget “best practices” – just do it to find out what works best!

The Microsoft UC Software Pie

Besides Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007, Microsoft showed off it’s other UC software applications, including:

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services

Microsoft Live Meeting

Microsoft Roundtable (videoconferencing)

Part of the Microsoft UC Launch agenda was also to identify the strategic operational role that UC could play in some selected vertical industries, i.e., Financial Services, Manufacturing, and Healthcare.

Other Comments About The Microsoft UC Launch

I was planning to quote other sources of objective and interesting comments about the big Microsoft Launch, but there were so many that I decided against it. However, I do want to point you to the practical observations of the UC Strategies team that attended the Launch event and who had the opportunity to talk to various customers and partners who were exposed to Microsoft’s new technology.

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.

My Take on Microsoft’s Approach to UC Migration

I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Maximizing Enterprise User Benefits of Unified Communications

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

October 10, 2007

Maximizing The Benefits Of Unified Communications

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

As the definition of what everyone means when they say “unified communications” (UC) becomes clearer to the various business enterprise constituencies, it is also becoming more evident that the benefits of UC will be very dependent upon the technologies that end users can selectively control. If a user has NO device for communicating, then all the networking and application servers in the world won’t help a bit!

What is really happening, however, is just the opposite. End users are going after maximum communication flexibility with all forms of contact and media converged and interoperable on a single desktop or handheld endpoint device. Why? Because individual users have different communication interface needs at different times, depending on where they are, what they are doing, whom they are communicating with, and especially when they are mobile and must deal with a variety of “rich” information.

When we talk about the benefits of UC, we can look for specific enterprise business process efficiencies (“macro-productivity”), as well as at the benefits to the individual end users in doing their jobs (“micro-productivity”). Obviously, the latter will impact the former, so it is important to include both perspectives.

New International Survey Ties End User Interest in UC to Teleworking Benefits

One of the major factors holding up enterprise UC migration has been perceived as relatively low end user adoption or “demand,” for UC at the desktop. This, in turn, has forced business or IT management to find other justifications for implementing UC capabilities. A new survey of both end users and IT management sponsored by Dimension Data Holdings focuses the role of UC on facilitating work productivity in the “virtual” workplace. Because telework (or Flexi-Work as they call it) directly benefits individual end users in a very personal way, in addition to addressing basic issues of staffing and retention for the business organization, it may be the “secret sauce” that will drive greater user demand for UC implementations.

The survey involved 390 IT managers and 524 business end users who use a PC for work at least fifteen hours a week in thirteen countries. Although there are some variances in UC adoption between end users in different areas of the world (Europe, U.S., Asia, 3rd world countries), there are no surprises in seeing newer forms of communication gaining increased traction with end users.

More Real-time Business Communications Through Text

Now that text messaging has become real-time (IM, SMS), it is competing with voice telephony as THE most common form of real-time business communications. Not that conversational voice doesn’t have some useful advantages over text, such as being more efficient and delivering more emotional content for discussions, but like everything else, voice conversation has its place. That “place” is going to very dynamic, because increasingly mobile people can’t necessarily talk or listen all the time or in every environment. That is also where the most benefits of UC will be realized, when UC enables contact with people “any where, anytime, any how.”

The new survey reconfirms findings of an older ACM report I cited from last year that compared email and phone calls with face-to-face meetings, and showed email being perceived as equal in importance to phone calls. This new study surveys also covers use of both Instant Messaging (IM) and mobile text messaging and shows increasing growth of all forms of messaging over phone calls

Here are the reported and not too surprising end user results on leading business communication applications, for both usage and perceived personal productivity:

Communication type - % Using -% Helps “Productivity” Most

E-mail - 100% 70%

Telephone (Wired) - 80% 53%

Mobile phones - 76% 52%

Instant Messaging - 66% 27%

Note: Instant Messaging is not fully accepted for business use within many enterprise organizations.

The Two Kinds of Live Business Contacts – “Person-to-person” and “Person-to- Anyone Available”

Contacting people in business is not as simple as always knowing exactly whom you want to talk to. If it is a matter of getting up-to-date information, computer and network technology is minimizing the need for contacting a live person to get such information through online, visual and speech interfaced “self-service” business applications. If it is a matter of getting live assistance of any kind, then network and presence management is now bringing greater choice in locating and contacting someone who is qualified and available in whatever form of contact that is feasible at the moment for both the contact initiator and the contact recipient. This kind of contact technology has evolved from the sensitive demands of customer support contacts (call centers) to what is now useful to anyone doing business with or within an organization. That’s what we expect UC to deliver as benefits to both individual end users and the business processes they are associated with.

So, it’s not just a matter of changing the voice telephony “pipes” to VoIP connectivity, because that alone will do nothing to facilitate making contacts with people. You still have to know who they are, where they are, how available they are, and with what kind of contact modality that will work all parties involved at any given moment in time. Otherwise, as a “contact initiator” (caller), you can waste a lot of personal productivity time, but worse yet, delay the business process or problem resolution involved. That’s what UC ROI is really all about!

So, What Can Help UC To Be More Effective?

It should be very obvious by now that personalized wireless mobility is going to make a big difference in making people more accessible. That applies not only to “person-to-person” contacts, but also to “person-to-anyone” contacts and to evolving “automated business process (applications) –to- person” contacts, recently referred to as “CEBP” (Communications Enabled Business Processes). As individual users become more accessible through a variety of personalized mobile devices, pre-authorized business process applications will be able to selectively drive timely, proactive information delivery and notifications, which can be followed by a variety of self-service or live interaction options with the information recipients.

Again, it’s not just a matter of presence management (connectivity status, location, availability), but also the flexibility of mobile, multimodal communications which will allow the contact initiator to quickly and efficiently communicate, in real-time or asynchronously, in any modality acceptable to the recipient.

Communication mobility will provide the following kinds of benefits to UC:

· Make both contact initiators and recipients more accessible to communication contact (though they may not be available for every modality of contact).

· With multimodal mobile device flexibility, both the contact initiator and recipient will have greater flexibility of choice for messaging exchanges and transitioning to real-time conversations.

· With UC, which subsumes unified messaging capabilities (UM), the messaging options will also be improved, where the message originator can exploit the convenience of speech, while the message recipient can exploit the efficiencies of text retrieval.

· Responding to any form of messaging will also be flexible, since the respondent can choose whatever form of response is most convenient or appropriate for the respondent, regardless of the original message format.

· Mobility will also facilitate “instant,” multi-party conferencing when rapid decision-making is required and the appropriate people are physically located anywhere. This includes dynamically transitioning from messaging exchanges to multi-party, IP-based voice and video conferencing.

The bottom line of such flexibility stemming from the combination of mobile access and UC multimodal communication options will be faster contact initiation and faster response from people, both which are key to improved business process performance. For people who are not mobile themselves, the people they are trying to contact might very well be, so mobility requirements have to be viewed from both sides of any person-to-person contact.

Implications For UC Planning

It will not be enough to simply install just VoIP networks, IP-PBXs, Unified Messaging servers, or SIP-based desktop phones, because, without multimodal mobile devices, end users who are key to high-value business process will not be able to communicate as efficiently and flexibly as possible. Whether it is as a contact initiator, a recipient, or a respondent, when push comes to shove, maximum mobile flexibility can make a difference! (Think of emergency health care or other emergency situations.)

For this reason, all UC migration planning must also consider the individual end users involved and insure that they are equipped to exploit UC to the maximum required for their job responsibilities and for the priorities of any associated business process applications. This should tie in with plans for “mobilizing” the enterprise work force, as Nokia has noticeably done within its own organization and documented in their book last year Work Goes Mobile.” What mobility migration shares in common with UC migration is the emphasis on business process values and priorities. You must “kill those two birds with the same business process stone!”

The mobility question of course also highlights the issue of fixed-mobile telephony convergence (FMC), where we have wide-area cellular networks for off-premise access, premised-based Wi-Fi and WLANS, and shades of wireless networks starting to appear in between (Wi-Max). The enterprise challenge is to enable any user’s endpoint device to be interoperable across such networks in order to insure mobile accessibility to key people in high-value business processes, wherever they may happen to be.

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or .

Are You Ready For Microsoft’s Big UC Launch on October 16th?

I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Business Communication "Pain Points" Need UC

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

October 4, 2007

Now That UC Technology Is Getting Real, The Ball Is Back In The Enterprise End User’s Court

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Today was the first stop of CMP Media’s VoiceCon Tour 2007, which focused on the realities of migrating to unified communications (UC). Now that UC technology is becoming real as communication software products and services, it is time to look at how end users, both inside and outside of the enterprise organization will exploit new UC capabilities as part of their business processes. This is not only practical from an implementation perspective, but is also necessary to provide business justifications for enterprise management.

What we originally referred to several years ago as personal “micro-productivity” for individual users and group “macro-productivity” for all end users involved in a business process, has now been expanded by the UC Strategy experts who organized the VoiceCon Tour day-long program. In order to plan for implementing UC technologies, both analysts and technology providers are now urging enterprise organizations to tie in specific, high-value business processes to communications activities, under the label of a “Business Process Zone.”

Most of the program sessions discussed practical questions about how to go about implementing UC capabilities based upon business end user needs and business process payoffs, rather than just infrastructure questions and IT responsibilities. The technology providers who participated in the discussion panels were all in agreement that operational business needs have be identified and prioritized as a prerequisite for any intelligent implementation planning. Business management has to know what business communication problems they want to solve first, which can then be translated into UC capabilities for specific categories of users, both inside and outside of the organization.

Business Process “Hot Spots”

Marty Parker, now a principal of Unicom Consulting that is dedicated to assisting enterprise organizations in planning and implementing UC technologies, provided useful guidelines to the audience for “starting at the top” to find critical delays in communications that cause inefficiencies in high-value business process work flow procedures. Such “communication hotspots” should the initial targets for selective UC implementation because they can more easily justify implementation costs and minimize the scope of the UC project to very doable, non-disruptive levels of effort.

Because UC technology is comprised of a variety of communication application components that may be used both independently by end users (desktop and mobile messaging, telephony, voice/video conferencing), as well as integrated with a variety of different business process applications, it has been difficult to “see the forest for the trees.” However, UniComm Consulting and UC Strategies have put together a very useful framework for organizing such technologies in an objective way to enable business analysis needs to correlate with the new functional capabilities of UC technologies. For more information about this planning framework, check out the information provided on the UC Strategies website about “UC Solution and RFP Templates.”

New Siemens User “Painpoint” Productivity Loss Study

A highlight of the program was a preliminary announcement by a panelist from Siemens, Graceiela Tiscareno-Sato, Global Marketing Manager for Unified Communications, who discussed some key findings from an objective study of business users around the world and their loss of productivity because of “fragmented” communications. This study was also sponsored by UC Strategies, and a copy of the report can be downloaded, as well as a podcast interview about the results, can be found on that web site.

The bottom line of the study was to show that real productivity losses can result from inefficient business communications, most of which can be translated into hard dollars. Such losses will not only be felt by the enterprise organization, but obviously also by the individual users. With the next generation of business workers already conditioned to be mobile and multimodal in their communications, UC capabilities will therefore become very critical in attracting and retaining valued employees.

Graciela offered three key steps for enterprise IT to follow:

1. Help identify key business employees and the business/communication application processes they use (She suggests asking HR who those people are!)

2. Look for available technology that will “unify “ those communication processes

3. Help “pilot” those business processes to learn what UC can do for productivity and “pain points.” Such pilots can also use hosted services to facilitate implementation.

The VoiceCon Tour reflects a step forward in educating the enterprise market, especially IT management, on how to move forward towards UC. I was told by one of the attendees, obviously not an IT person, but a business user, that she was very pleasantly surprised to learn what new UC capabilities can do for users and business communication procedures. She apparently was now going to become more actively involved in pushing for UC.

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.

Are You Ready For Microsoft’s Big UC Launch on October 16th?

I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

UC, Hyperconnectivity, Caller Text Messaging

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

September 25, 2007

Why UC Needs “Hyperconnectivity”

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Let’s face it! UC is not simple. It is more complicated than just voice telephony or any one particular form of messaging, because it is really a “mix and match’ of multimodal communication capabilities that individual end users will selectively exploit depending upon their personal needs. For person-to-person contacts, this means that both contact initiators and contact recipients will have choices in how they want to (or have to) communicate at any given moment in time.

UC, and it’s unified messaging components, is also forcing the convergence of wired and wireless network communications, because timely communications requires personalized, location-independent, mobile accessibility. This convergence is having a disruptive impact upon how business organizations support their end user UM/UC communication needs with a combination of internal technology and external services. It is also creating a lack of terminology to properly describe new communication infrastructure problems and their solutions. So, I was happy to see Nortel come up earlier this year with a good descriptor for the network problems that UC (and mobility) will be generating. They called it “hyperconnectivity,” which they define as the “state in which the number of devices, nodes, and applications connected to the network far exceeds the number of people using the network.”

This emphasis on providing adequate network capacity for the flexibility that UC will offer end users is probably one of the reasons that Microsoft has strategically partnered with Nortel, because network hardware management is not Microsoft’s cup of tea. They are more interested in the operating systems, business applications and user interfaces that will feed network traffic, and will leave network technology management to the likes of Nortel, Cisco, and other network infrastructure providers.

The “Chicken and the Egg” – What About “UC Traffic?”

While it is indeed necessary to plan for adequate network resources to handle the different types of converged communication traffic that will be flowing between people and application processes (let alone directly between applications), I have to agree with the concerns voiced by UC consultant Nancy Jamison in her latest comment on about ”What I Didn’t Hear Much of At VoiceCon.” Apparently there was a lot of emphasis on the future of UC applications and features, ROIs, and interoperability, etc., but little discussion of the impact of “UC traffic” upon network resources and how that will be handled.

To make matters even more complex, because the flexibility of UM/UC will really pay most importantly for mobile users, network resources will have to support all forms of wired and wireless connectivity between different kinds of user endpoints. However, because individual mobile end user communication needs will be dynamically affected by personal activities, their choice of contact modalities (i.e., real-time vs. asynchronous messaging, voice vs. visual text), may fluctuate wildly. This will affect end user behavior as both contact initiators and as contact recipients and change the kind of network traffic they will generate.

This is the problem domain that Nortel is addressing with it’s focus on “hyperconnectivity,” but, no matter what you want to call it, it means that IP networks will have to be device independent, very flexible as to what kinds of communication traffic they will handle, and as to how much capacity and priority they can provide to the various forms of voice and video communication contacts.

The flexibility of UC to enable users to easily choose any method of contact initiation vs. what contact recipients will choose to, can change network usage in two ways. Escalating the response to an asynchronous email or voice message by a “click-to-call” action will increase network demand, while downgrading a voice call attempt to an IM exchange or a voice/text message will reduce network demand. Similarly, converting a voice message to text will make message retrieval and storage more efficient, both from a user productivity and system resources perspective. Listening to a text message via text-to-speech will be convenient for eyes-free mobile situations, while preserving the efficiency of the original text message.

So, how much network capacity will be required to support all of the above? How can the enterprise plan for unknown future network traffic without first learning which users will be doing what with UC capabilities?

UC Applications – Increasing “Speed of Contact” vs. “Ease of Use”

Although the success of UC will be very dependent upon simplifying the user interface for managing multimodal communications, “ease of use” alone will not be enough for efficiently completing business contacts. For example, everyone looking at UC is excited about using a simple visual interface, i.e., “click-to-call,” to initiate a phone call, that is not enough to insure contact. It has always been pretty easy to initiate a telephone call (if you knew the number), but that didn’t mean the call attempt would be successful; in fact, the old statistics that around 70% of business call attempts “fail” might get much worse because it will be easier to initiate call attempts to people who are just not available. With mobile phones, call screening is also contributing to that increase of failed real-time contacts because users who are mobile don’t want to be interrupted by low priority contacts.

As UC industry attention increasingly focuses on satisfying the end user with easy-to-use application interfaces and simple procedures, the importance of “real-time” contacts has not diminished. This is especially true for contact initiators who now have plenty of non-real-time messaging options and will (hopefully) use real-time contacts more selectively when really necessary.

Presence management, along with the single contact approach of UC (“one number”), will be effective mechanisms to facilitate more efficient real-time contacts. This will be true for “person-to-person” contacts (phone calls, “push-to-talk,” or IM), or “instant” group conferencing by voice, video, or IM. This technology approach doesn’t necessarily make the calling procedure easier, but it will speed up successful call connections, vs. failed attempts, particularly for person-to-person call attempts. That, in turn, will increase what I will call the “speed of use” of IP telephony.

Increasing “Speed of Use” for Caller Messages

Legacy voice mail systems emulated telephone answering machines at the recipient’s end of the phone line, because there was no other way to quickly know the availability of the recipient without actually making a call. In addition, there was no good way to send a location-independent message before electronic messaging. (Remember the handwritten pink telephone message slips?)

One of the severe limitations of legacy voice mail systems, however, was that outside callers did not have the same privileges for initiating a voice message to a subscriber’s voice mailbox as another subscriber on the same voicemail/phone system. For one thing, outside callers could not directly access a voice mailbox without first attempting to make a phone call attempt through a voicemail auto-attendant or to a DID number. One would think that with new multimodal “smartphones,” universal email addressing, IP telephony, UC, and presence management, it’s time for a change!

Now that everyone is (1) already using electronic messaging, (2) will increasingly be using multimodal desktop or mobile “smart phones,” and (3) will soon be able to check a recipient’s (call) availability status with federated presence management, there is an opportunity to increase the “speed of use” for caller messaging too. Why should the “smart caller” continue to be at the mercy of a recipient’s “dumb” voice mailbox? Why can’t contact initiators quickly and easily create and send any kind of message as soon as they find out that the recipient is unavailable for a voice conversation?

Because short voice messages are easier and faster for callers to create, especially when they are mobile, voice will remain a convenient form of contact forever. This also applies to the ability to send voice messages as attachments to an email message, rather than typing text. However, retrieving and managing voice messages is still not so efficient for the recipients, and using mature speech recognition technology to convert voice to more manageable text messaging is becoming a new, more efficient “call answering” service for busy users.

Technology developers like CallWave, SpinVox, TalkText, and SimulScribe are driving consumer market interest in voice-to-text messaging through service offerings that provide greater personal productivity efficiency to contact recipients. However, as I pointed out in a previous article, it won’t be long before enterprise organizations will also want to exploit such services to minimize the drain on internal voice messaging resources.

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.

White Paper on UC ROIs and Transition Strategies

I authored a recent white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise transition planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of evolving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the UC evolution can start with adding IM/presence management, unified messaging, mobile devices, and IP softphones. You can download a copy of the white paper by going to the UC Strategies web site at:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

UC Rubber Meets Enterprise Roads

Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

September 14, 2007

Where the UC “Rubber” Meets the Enterprise “Road”

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

This is a follow up to my last article about low “demand” for UC. Although TDM telephone systems are very gradually being replaced by IP-PBXs and desktop IP phones, along with IP-based voice mail and “unified messaging” products, when it comes to full-blown unified communications (UC), market movement is still relatively slow. However, the telecommunications industry is going through a disruptive cycle of change, where it’s not just a matter of adopting new communication technologies, but also replacing some of the ways the traditional telephone is used.

We are still going through a “hype” cycle, where UC concepts are being promoted for all kinds of business and personal communication benefits, but, as real products and services are announced, business organizations have to get serious about how UC can affect the way they operate. This will require first understanding what UC technology will actually do for various end users and for those business processes that involve those end users. That means “UC applications,” and I don’t mean “VoIP!”

UC Applications

Using Blair Pleasant’s VoiceCon Fall presentation in San Francisco on the market structure of UC as a frame of reference for what functionality end users will see, the key UC application areas were identified as:

· Voice/Telephony (“VoIP”)

· Collaboration (conferencing, information sharing)

· Instant Messaging (IM)/Presence

· Unified Messaging (UM)

· Business Process/Applications (Communication enabled applications)

All of the above can support the flexibility of multimodal communications between end users within the same business organization, with individuals in other organizations, or with customers/constituents. However, there will be differences in how the various business market segments (and their customers) will transition to UC in the next few years.

The Barriers to UC Migration For Everyone

First and foremost, all business market segments are very confused about what UC is, what the benefits are, and how they should implement it. Clearly, the confusion is centered mostly around the telephony part of UC, since that is what is changing dramatically. This confusion is affecting both end users, who don’t understand what the changes will do to them as callers and call recipients, and business management, who don’t understand the benefits to their business processes.

IT staffs are another obstacle to UC migration for several reasons. They may not know what UC application capability to implement first, how to do it, or how to support it. They may also see such new technology as a threat to their job security, especially if UC comes in the form of hosted or managed services. Couple that with low demand from both business management and end users and there is obviously going to be resistance to changes to the status quo.

The Small Business - The “S Market”

I took advantage of my participation in TMC’s Internet Telephony Expo in L.A. this month to discuss some of the barriers facing business migration to UC. In particular, I was concerned with the “Small” business market, since that is a big market segment, as shown in the chart below provided by one of my panelists in discussing IP telephony as a hosted service.

Theoretically, small businesses should be easiest to migrate to UC for several reasons:

· They don’t have big investments in legacy TDM phone systems to protect

· They don’t have big IT staffs and are therefore good candidates for faster implementation through hosted and managed services

· They already probably use hosted email services

· They probably are extensive users of cellular services to be always accessible to customers and business contacts

· UC capabilities will enable the small business to enjoy the same competitive technology benefits of IP communications as larger organizations

· Decision-making can be much simpler and usually made by business owners management

While it would appear that the “S” market should be moving forward quickly into UC, the fact is that they are not moving that fast. There seem to be a number of barriers that are getting in the way.

For the small business market, which is dependent on value-added resellers (VARs) to give them advice and support in implementing telephone systems as CPE, the convergence of telephony with all forms of IP communications (email, IM, mobility) from multiple technology providers under UC, is challenging because of new expertise they don’t have yet. Furthermore, because software-based UC applications are moving towards hosted subscription services, the VAR’s haven’t adapted their thinking about generating income from equipment sales and maintenance to software maintenance and subscription sales.

Larger Business Organizations Have More UC Homework To Do

For the bigger companies (Medium, Large enterprises), things are a little more complicated because they have more locations, more customized business process applications, greater investments in legacy telephone systems, and larger IT staffs who will not be experienced with IP telephony technology, nor with application convergence and mobility issues of UC. All this will require greater justifications for change, as well as practical priorities for a selective transition to UC application technologies.

One major planning obstacle will be the operational Line of Business management, who should be able to identify the important business process problems that can be alleviated by UC capabilities, the relative ROI value and priority of such solutions, and which key end users really need UC capabilities (e.g., mobile, customer-facing users). They should also be able to identify pertinent, high-value business process applications that can integrate with UC capabilities (Communications Enabled Business Processes) to achieve faster workflow performance. But who is educating their thinking about requirements, UC capabilities, and benefits for their business operations? The CIOs? Vendors?

“Alignment” of IT With Business Management in Large or Growing Companies

A recent study by Bain & Company found that companies grew faster and lowered costs by making their IT staff more “effective,” rather than through simple “alignment” with business management. Their definition of “alignment” has been primarily to simply give individual business units raw IT resources to throw at their different problems. But if neither business management nor IT knows what their end users need in terms of communication flexibility and work flow efficiency, this will be like the “blind leading the blind!”

In one of my panel discussions on the role of “SIP In The Call Center,” which is a pretty technical view of IP telephony and UC for customer contact applications, my panelists from both Nortel and Genesys agreed that getting business process management involved in defining operational application needs was a key prerequisite before asking IT to plan any SIP-based contact center implementation. So, my definition of “alignment” for UC implementations includes the following steps:

  1. Educating both business management and IT about the operational work flow benefits that UC can provide.
  2. Having IT understand what work flow and communication problems both business management and end users currently have, their relative priorities for business activities, and which specific end users will be involved (both within and outside of the organization).
  3. Having IT research pertinent new technologies to supplement or replace current technology that meet business and end user requirements, including hosted and managed service offerings
  4. Pilot and test UC applications that are high priority to determine how effective they will be and what the transition impact will be for those users that will be affected.
  5. With the results of the above, IT can then justify practical implementation recommendations because they have been exposed to practical experience pertinent to their own operational environments.

Needless to say, since UC technology is still evolving and “best practices” can’t replace the steps mentioned above for any business environment, it will be practical to enlist the services of independent and objective consultancies, which can supplement internal resources with their UC implementation experience and awareness of available UC solution alternatives. One newly formed consultancy that has both long-time telephony and messaging experience and now specializes in UC planning and implementation is UniComm Consulting. (

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.

White Paper on UC ROIs and Migration Strategies

I authored a new white paper describing UC ROIs and practical approaches to enterprise migration planning that highlight Microsoft’s UC product positioning for simplifying the challenge of moving to UC. Rather than start with replacing existing wired desktop phone systems, the migration can start with adding IP softphones, mobile devices, and unified messaging. You can download a copy by going to the UC Strategies web site at:

Attention CIOs: Watch this great recent Webcast from Avaya and Microsoft on the practical “Why’s” and “How’s” of migrating to UC!

Go to:

This discussion with the two leading enterprise communications technology providers in the text messaging and telephony worlds highlights the practicalities of migrating to UC and also underscores the need for identifying individual business user requirements for UC.