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Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Two Number Accessibility" For FMC and UC

UC Commentary – January 28, 2008

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Business UC Users Need “Two-Number Accessibility” For Mobile Devices and FMC Services

I want to welcome a new contributor to, long time contributor to BCR magazine and an expert in wireless communications, Michael Finneran, In particular, his objective white paper on Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) options for the enterprise deserves a read just to fully understand the different ways that mobile carrier services and enterprise IP telephony have started to interoperate.

There are a number of issues for such interoperability that will come under the big “umbrella” of UC, especially when business and consumer (residence) services converge at the individual user/subscriber level, that I will address in the future. However, I just wanted to highlight a particular point that was addressed in the white paper, “one number accessibility” that is usually associated with "Find Me, Follow Me" services.

It will be very obvious that such a service, regardless of how it is implemented, must be for a particular business responsibility domain. It can’t be used both personal and business contacts, nor should it be used for two different jobs that an employee may have with two different companies. As Finneran points out, business phone numbers, fixed or mobile, have to be controlled by the business. When an employees leaves the company, that number should no longer be controlled by the ex-employee.

Note that I am talking about the telephone number, not the device that uses that number, and this makes the issue of having more than one mobile number associated with a mobile telephone device very important. This is becoming particularly pertinent with the advent of personalized “smartphones” that consumers will now want to use for their work contacts as well. Having a company controlled mobile software client, in addition to whatever a subscriber gets from a consumer mobile service, will enable the end user to have the best of all worlds from UC.

Cell phones have long been able to accommodate two access numbers. Now it is time to bring that power to bear on the benefits of UC for mobile users. “One-number Service” must be defined for either personal contacts or business contacts that share a common mobile end-point device but different management controls and different billing requirements. So, I call that “Two-Number Access,” one for any form of business operations access and the other for any form of consumer service access.

In reading Finneran’s white paper, you will see that there will be FMC options for each, but, more importantly, it will require the carriers to interoperate more with enterprise systems and, for business process applications, to get rid of the “walled gardens.”

Do you agree?

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UC Commentary – January 26, 2008

By Art Rosenberg

Voice is Voice is Voice – But Maybe UC-based QoS Should Be Provided “On Demand?”

There has always been a concern for supporting real-time communication traffic (voice, video) based upon available network resources, because good quality voice connections have almost always been provided with traditional TDM connections. When PSTN demand exceeded capacity, however, the caller would get a rare network “busy” signal, even though the called party’s line was not really busy. Maintaining adequate voice quality for IP telephony and VoIP connections is the subject of a new white paper for managing converged UC networks.

In dealing with different role-based scenarios for business voice connections, the report acknowledges that callers using VoIP contacts or mobile services will not be bothered too much by lower QoS/QoE results. With multimodal devices, they could also have the option to transition to IM text, if necessary.

While it is all well and good to accommodate voice conversations “on demand” by a caller, there are new UC factors that should be considered that will change how voice connections will be made in a UC environment. These include:

· Mobile users will be the biggest users of the flexibility of UC-based voice calls, because they are the ones who will need UC flexibility for changing environments, as well as for real-time interactions for time-sensitive responsiveness.

· UC flexibility will increasingly shift to real-time multimodal messaging contacts rather than immediate voice conversations because information exchange is much richer with a visual interface than the traditional TUI, contact recipients will be less available to talk, and IM facilitates more efficient multi-tasking.

· It makes no difference which party in a phone conversation is the mobile one, as long as one is mobile, Voice QoS will be at risk. As customers get more mobile and start using their iPhones for customer contacts, they too will be introducing QoS problems.

· In addition to what we have already seen with email, UC’s telephony presence and instant text messaging will rapidly displace the ad hoc phone call and the consequential telephone answering voice messages that result when the call recipient is not available. That will reduce telephone call traffic for voice mail and its impact on QoS.

· On the other hand, with UC, any form of messaging can dynamically transition into an instant voice conversation (“click-to-call”), or to an “instant” voice or/video multi-party conference connection. However, just as mobile communications bring an expected loss of QoS, so too will any “instant” voice conference be expected to suffer possible degradation of QoS.

When better quality voice conversations must be guaranteed, it is clear that an appointment must be made, not just for network resources, but also to insure the availability of the people involved. Otherwise, the ad hoc telephony world and the mobile communications world will be converging to create lower quality QoS that will be accepted by most users.

Perhaps QoS shouldn’t be taken for granted any more and we should leave it up to the users to “Click for Better QoS” for on-demand network priority, if that will indeed make a difference. Like everything else involved with UC, we really have to get down to the level of the individual users and their needs.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

UC Moving to Mashups and "Unified Marketing"

Copyright © 2008 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

March 21, 2008

“Unified UC Marketing” to Sell “UC Mashups?

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

So now that VoiceCon is over and the big announcements have been made, what’s new?

Aside from a number of major announcements by enterprise telephony providers that they were moving forward with UC and “open” software applications, the biggest announcements seemed to come from Microsoft and IBM, separately and together.

Microsoft Moves It’s UC Play Into The Enterprise Call Center

Microsoft announced another telephony-related alliance (and investment), this time with old time call center provider Aspect, to bring UC into the contact center through both availability and multimodal contacts with “experts” to achieve faster and more efficient first contact resolution (FCR). As mentioned in my commentary on Aspect’s call center research, over 10% of all contact center agent connections require contact with someone else to resolve the customer’s needs. That is an inefficiency that damages customer satisfaction, yet, there is no way that every agent can be trained to know everything.

As I originally mentioned in the customer contact book I co-authored with Paul Anderson back in 2000, those “experts” will be busy with their other responsibilities and will not be always available the way a dedicated contact center agent must be. As a consequence, FCR may not be realistic, nor even expected, as long as responsiveness is reasonable for the customer’s needs.

Another practical consideration for the contact center is that with the increase in online self-service applications via multimodal desktop and mobile devices, access to scarce “experts” won’t always go through a first-line agent, but directly to such available experts. Furthermore, with consumer UC services and mobile devices, the response from experts doesn’t have to be through an immediate voice connection or later callback.

IBM Announces BIG Moves

IBM, a direct competitor in the business UC spaces that Microsoft occupies, was not to be outdone, and announced major investment in UC technologies. Like Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes did before them, IBM delivered its “vision” of the UC future in a keynote address at VoiceCon by Mike Rhodin, GM of IBM Lotus software, that stressed mobility, interoperability/open standards, and instant, multimodal, multi-party “meetings.”

Aside from their UC visions that confirmed what most UC observers have talked about in the past, IBM is also “putting its money where its mouth is” by applying its Venture Capital Program to innovative UC developments. That is what I would describe as “UC mashups” between different communication applications, multimodal devices, and business process applications. Needless to say, there will be no limit to the number of such UC mashups that will be created in the coming years.

Microsoft and IBM and “Unified UC Marketing”

The big climax of VoiceCon took place in a confrontational debate between UC vendors about software interoperability and standards for Microsoft’s OCS. As a result, Microsoft and IBM agreed to do interoperability testing of their UC software applications and report their results before the next VoiceCon show in November.

While the two may be competing with their email and IM/presence products, both of them are partnering with the telephony vendors and the business application developers. This leads me to believe that enterprise organizations will not be buying telephone systems separately any more without including UC and business process applications in their plans.

That is why I expect interoperable “mashups” will be sold as either products or services or a combination of both through what I call “unified” UC marketing teams that can represent the whole UC enchilada, not just the old pieces. That approach will be particularly necessary, as software applications move into SOA infrastructures and become available as SaaS services. As business applications get tied into communication applications in a variety of different flavors, the combinations will have to be evaluated as they relate to specific applications and as part of total operational environment. This also has implications for the wireless carriers who will now be forced to jump on the “open” UC bandwagon without the benefit of their traditional “walled gardens.”

Given all this convergence, it will have a significant effect on the sales/support channels, especially the traditional telephone system “value added resellers” (VARs). Not only will they have to be involved with the new UC “mashups,” but also with hosted and managed service options that will be joining or replacing the old CPE game.

The telephony infrastructure world is definitely changing along with the telephones themselves. This, in turn, is going to change traditional enterprise IT responsibilities for business communications as well.

What Do You Think?

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why UC Is Confusing to the Enterprise - 2

Copyright © 2008 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

March 12, 2008

Why UC Is So Confusing – Because Its Moving Up Different Food Chains At The Same Time!

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

As the industry gets ready for the VoiceCon show in Orlando next week, the telecommunications industry has been sharpening its promotional weapons to position themselves for the next phases of UC evolution. The industry has finally stopped touting just “VoIP” cost savings for traditional legacy telephony and moved on to unified, multimodal and mobile business communication applications. That includes an emphasis on real-time messaging, instant voice and video conferencing, and communications enabled business process applications.

But it’s more than that!

Every facet of technology implementation, marketing, enterprise management and administration, and user adoption is being affected by the fundamental shifts that the Internet has enabled. The changes are particularly affecting anything to do with voice telephony; nobody wants just a voice telephone (wired or wireless) anymore, it’s got be a multimodal communication device for both people contacts and information access. As a result, we are seeing all levels of technology and service providers staking their claims in the UC pie and focusing on their contributions to the benefits of UC.

The “UC Change of Life” - Let me count the ways!

In general, everything that we used to do in communicating with people is being upgraded and improved. If you are like me, it’s been real hard to keep up with all the information that pours in over web. So, with UC technology still in a state of evolution, every day brings a torrent of changes to various aspects of how enterprise business communications will be affected. In particular, change is affecting everything and everyone involved with real-time communications, notably telephony and video, but also all forms of messaging.

1. Productivity Results, Not Just Costs – Providers are now selling the productivity benefits of UC to the business processes and groups of end users, rather than just for individual productivity. (I called it “micro-productivity” because the benefits to the enterprise were either small or questionable.) All the vendors are now pushing enterprise and user group performance benefits, not technology benefits, to business management and end users who have to get some direct rewards from adopting UC.

2. Software, Not Hardware – The big telephone system developers are all starting to announce that they are now “software” companies. They are moving to device-independent software offerings for IP-based software servers and device clients.

3. “Open” Software Suites, Not Just Components or Proprietary Suites – In the latest moves, the big telephony guys are out to capture market share by providing all the functional pieces of UC they can. This time, though, it can’t be by proprietary, “closed” suites, because no one wants to be locked in to software, especially with SOA infrastructures staring you in the face, and software applications dynamically evolving forever.

4. “Instant” Multimodal, Multi-party Contacts, Not Restrictive Procedures – “Click-to- Contact” people using multimodal communication endpoints, especially mobile devices, will mean more than voice conversation phone calls in the world of UC. Real-time contacts will include IM and video conferencing, as well as mixed mode, multiparty conferencing, where not everyone is able to participate in the exact same way. Some will be on camera, some will be able to view video, some will be strictly voice, some will watch voice-to-text transcriptions, and, for those unable to participate at all, there will be convenient access to post conference recordings and response options afterwards.

5. Enabling Business Processes To Contact People, Not Just “Person-to-Person” Contacts – As business process applications become capable of automatically monitoring status information in real-time, they will also become able to react to time-critical situations by becoming real-time “contact initiators” to those people who will be affected by the situation. Under the label of Communications Enabled Business Process (CEBP), such applications will be able to initiate notifications to selected people (as contact recipients) without having to know exactly what mode of delivery to use.

Unlike a “person-to-person” form of CEBP, where a person can initiate a contextual “click-to-contact” action (call, message) from within any form of information (documents, data files, address books, etc.), applications only have to create a text message “notification,” which can then be delivered in speech, if necessary. Such messages will also contain links for follow on interactions such as a self-service application online or with speech interfaces and must be able to be delivered to any personalized mobile devices that a user may have.

This is perhaps the most promising new area of UC that will bring business process application developers and communication services together into new and “open” partnerships. As described below in point 12, consumers and customer contact applications will be targeted by automated enterprise business process applications that can exploit UC and CEBP, not just internal business users. IBM, Microsoft and vertical market application developers will partner to create applications that will work with old and new business UC providers like Avaya, Nortel, Siemens, Mitel, Interactive Intelligence, Zeacom, etc., and both hosted business and consumer service providers like Verizon and AT&T.

6. Selling UC To Business Management and Individual End Users, Not Just to IT – Because UC is more than traditional telephony; it will affect how business activities are conducted. Therefore, Line of Business management, as well as individual end user groups will be affected. So, its not just about changing out the infrastructure or even about using mobile “smart phones,” its about how all that will change business procedures at an individual user/group and operational level. That will be a prerequisite before IT can configure and implement anything.

7. Planning For UC Outside The Organization, Not Just For Internal Users – Like traditional PSTN telephony, where any phone can call any other phone in the world, UC has to allow the power of multimodal IP communications and “federated” presence to extend to people outside the organization, i.e., business partners and customers. Because one has little control over people outside an organization, UC flexibility will be a critical element for cross-enterprise and cross network contacts. This, of course, brings into play the whole domain of secure access management and regulatory compliance across all forms of communication and information access.

8. Hosted and Managed Services, Not Just Premised-based Technology –Software-based IP telephony, combined with “virtualization” of application software servers, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), and SAAS (Software As A Service), is changing the game for how enterprise organizations will implement business process applications and UC. It will shift the responsibilities of the enterprise to managing and using communications technologies, not developing or owning them. This transition will not be overnight, nor will it ever be a 100% change, but the writing is on the wall.

The shift to IP communications as the foundation for UC also means that the traditional communication technology differences between the large, medium and small business organizations will also converge. As users become remote and mobile, they will become like small, but dynamically changing “branch offices.” Hosted services will be applicable to enterprise users in this manner, and, once such services become acceptable to individual business users, the rest of a large organization will be able to benefit in the same way as well. I see the differences between large and small organizations disappearing slowly but surely in the wake of mobile UC.

9. “Unified” Channels Must Sell And Support Both Managed and Hosted UC Services, Not Just Telephony, Premise-based Equipment, or Software – It is very obvious that the many facets of UC capabilities will be selectively implemented for a variety of different individuals and groups in a business organization of any size. Because those needs will be different, it’s not going to be a “one size fits all” sale, nor will it be implementations that are totally independent of other users inside or outside of the organization. Application needs will require design and usage trials before final implementation, and, because of software flexibility, may always be subject to real-world needs for change. “Unified” channels will be key to UC sales and support and they will have to have comprehensive skills to support all phases of business UC migrations, including all forms of communication (messaging, conferencing, application messaging), not just telephony.

10. Enterprise Mobile Device Management Must Be Software Focused, Not Hardware Dependent – It’s just a matter of time, but everyone is starting to agree with me that end users will be responsible for choosing the particular “smart phone” device that they can use for both business and personal applications. What the enterprise will be responsible for is to insure that they can support the software clients for such devices for their business applications only, and let the wireless carriers supply the other consumer-oriented services. It’s not a matter of all or nothing and we are starting to see progress in removing the “walled gardens” of the carriers. (Watch the iPhone change!)

11. Individual End Users Have to View Communication Needs From Both a Contact Initiation and Contact Response Perspective Independently, Not Assuming They Must Always Be Identical – Perhaps the biggest change that will affect end users, the devices they use, and ultimately their technology providers, is that two-way, person-to-person contacts can be accomplished asynchronously, but still be multimodal. (I labeled that kind of thing as “transmodal.”) As described in Point 4 above for multi-party-conferencing that means that both contact recipients and recipients can communicate efficiently and effectively even though each has a different device, a different user interface, different environmental constraints, and different priorities. This is where unified messaging concepts of flexibly using the ease and convenience of voice for messaging input but the efficiency of text for retrieval, as well as the reverse for text information.

This flexibility is in addition to the increased “intelligence” that can be provided to a contact initiator by presence and availability information about potential recipient(s). Each user should be able to initiate contacts in any form that they wish, regardless of whether the recipient is immediately available. The recipients can be notified immediately, but that still doesn’t mean they can respond immediately. In this situation, the initiator can expect something better than the traditional telephone answering game of “telephone tag” and “voice mail jail.”

That is where the concept of “As Soon As Possible” (ASAP) real-time connections can be brought into play as “second prize,” because although people can have all the flexibility in how they communicate, they won’t necessarily have the time to do so synchronously. (“It takes two to tango!”)

Of course, there will always be the need to plan and schedule any synchronous activities, but as business becomes more global, distributed, and “virtual,” such collaborative communication and information exchange activities will become more dependent on remote communication technologies rather than face-to-face meetings.

12. UC Is Also For Consumers, Not Just For Business Users – Although business users will place high priorities for benefits of UC in doing their “jobs,” consumers also use business communications as “customers.” So, in the world of customer contact, consumers will put on their business hats when they either they contact a company for any reason (“doing business”), or the company contacts a customer with a time-sensitive notification of some kind. So, everything we say about end users applies to both business users and consumers, even though the frequency of contact will be very different.

However, this convergence of needs will be reflected in the fact that both consumers and business users will need a consistent and efficient way of communicating with an enterprise and business process applications. The reverse will also be true, i.e., business process applications will want to contact both business users and consumer customers. Again, watch what the iPhone (and it’s competitors) will do the enterprise contact center.

Bottom Line For UC Implementations

Everything that used to be done in the past for business communications will now have to be done better or differently because all the pieces of UC have to be considered and interoperable and because the needs of all the people that will be affected by UC will have to taken into account. That means that proper UC planning and implementation must be more careful and comprehensive than just buying a “plug and play” application, a communication device, or a service. That also means that whom you buy from, rather than who developed the technology, will become very critical to the success of UC implementations.

However, because UC technology is still evolving in tandem with developing new operational requirements for UC within an organization, incremental implementation steps, including using hosted and managed services, will be the practical way to go as long as those steps are “future-proofed” and “open.” That kind of future proofing is what is just starting to happen with some of the new announcements starting to come out for VoiceCon, so stay tuned!

What Do You Think?

Let us know your comments and opinions by sending them to

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Utility Services: The Funnel For Driving IT Request Fulfillment Efficiencies and Savings To The Bottom Line

by David A. Zimmer, Sr. Consultant, Veris Associates, Inc.

You know the drill. Someone from the business side makes a demand for new technology. Users have needs unmet because their applications stop working. Servers need to be updated, upgraded, maintained and babysat. The critical business application everyone takes for granted decided to take a vacation during the end of quarter sales blitz. And the auditors are breathing down your neck asking you to prove the value of your existence. Meanwhile, your number one lead technician is sunning himself on the beach somewhere without cell phone coverage.

Your Average Day

Just a normal day in the life of the IT manager and CIO. But, we can handle it – we’ve got enough fire-fighting equipment in place and hours in the day to keep everything down to a low roar. Then, the CFO calls your network administrator directly to ask for an upgrade to the fiber switches and more secure firewalls. “Not a problem,” comes the reply. The VP of Sales is pushing for a record-breaking year and needs more terabytes on the sales processing system. He hall-tackles the lead database administrator to discuss the possibility of adding space by the end of the week.

In the day-to-day operations of the IT infrastructure, we must meet the demands of the business as quickly as possible and maintain stability to the environment. While at one point we might have developed some system to handle requests in an orderly manner, the heat of the moment seems to win out and we bypass our own methods because of emergencies. As a result, we settle into a routine of emergencies, headaches and many activities. In fact, dare I say, we feel comfortable in this mode. We equate busy-ness with productivity, esteem and accomplishment.

At the end of the day, we can look back and actually glory in the number of BlackBerry messages we smacked, meetings attended, phone calls fielded, and “things” crossed off the to-do list. As we lay our heads on the pillow at night after the fifteen hour day exhausted, we feel good because of all the forward progress, even if chaotic, we made.

The major problem with this mode of production is many customers don’t get served. Business units needing IT infrastructure updates done sooner decide to go on their own and create it themselves. Of course, once in place, the IT department must maintain it adding to their already overflowing plates. While the business got served through this method, the company suffers through duplication of effort, loss of purchasing power, disparate systems supporting similar functions, non-traceable changes to strategic systems and an unstable environment. In short, a train speeding down the track out of control and no Superman around to keep it from crashing.

Fulfilling the needs of the business is what the IT department does – that is their purpose. Support the business so the business can meet the needs and demands of its customers. If IT systems fail, the business fails its customers. Therefore, IT Request Fulfillments is a vitally important part to the business. Making it efficient and effective benefits all: the IT department, the business and the business customers.

What is Utility Services?

Utility Services takes IT fulfillment request and pushes them through a defined methodology that funnels requests through a “gatekeeper” without introducing a bottleneck to the speed of business. It puts sanity into the chaos, providing economy of scale through purchasing power, efficiencies in operations, and effectiveness in implementation. It preserves the holistic view of the overall system so changes can be tracked, monitored and maintained. Overall, the IT department gains through planned organization of changes, the business benefits through greater functionality and IT responsiveness plus stability of the IT environment and the business’ customers acquire a more secure sense of comfort from their supplier.

Utility Services is an independent workflow management system providing a single interface for IT requests – updates, upgrades, new functionality and the like. It leverages the good industry practices such as ITIL and reuses existing infrastructure for new applications, combines similar requests into a single work stream leveraging purchasing power for greater cost savings. Most importantly, it frees the IT department from the chaotic request processes of today so that they can be more responsive to the business requests, which seems almost counter-intuitive.

I hear you moan, “Oh great, more processes, more paperwork, more red-tape, more structure equals more pain to get anything done.” After years of helping companies develop and institute processes, we have learned at least one thing: Those companies that develop systematized methods, enforce their use and improve them rather than ignore them, progress further, sell more and increase profits and savings than those that do not. Some see increases in ranges of 20%, 50% and greater. Industry studies back up these claims.

Companies have greater insight into current and project capital spending, human resource allocations and requirements and more efficient day-to-day operations and successful projects.

A Governance Model To Meet Customer Needs

Utility Services is a governance model of ensuring all solutions implemented within an IT organization meet the traditional criteria of customer sign-off requirements, solution design and testing, and release into the environment. It establishes and enforces necessary customer communication checkpoints via a series of documentable and repeatable processes and procedures. It ensures IT goals align with business needs and initiatives through a consolidated resource management interface to manage work-loads and enable resource forecasting. And finally, it streamlines standard requests by automating approvals, traceable milestones, requester communication and hand-offs as appropriate.

Why Utility Services?

The big question still remains. Why implement Utility Services? You already seem to be getting the job done. Sure, your people are overworked and under-appreciated, but they still show up for work each day, don’t they? Why rock the boat, change the way of doing things and suffer through the cultural shock of more efficient operations?

For those companies where we helped them implement Utility Services, here is what they report:

  • Utility Services enables organizations both small and large to best utilize their money and people.

  • Utility Services reinforces ITIL good practices by building the underlying philosophy into the systems that IT departments live by.

  • Utility Services can be implemented in a relatively short period of time, enabling “quick wins” for management and IT workforce stakeholders.

  • Utility Services continues to evolve with your IT department so it becomes more transparent and easier to adapt to business initiatives.

  • Utility Services takes the mystery out of implementation status.

  • Utility Services helps align the infrastructure with business goals, and escalates issues before they become problems.

  • Utility Services enables purchasing departments to more accurately forecast spending schedules and empowers them to negotiate better pricing and support from vendors, be it hardware or services.

  • Utility Services allows more effective time management and prioritization of your IT department’s time and money.


Fulfilling business requests takes up much of IT’s daily time. Inefficient methodologies erode the very infrastructure and people required to keep the business going. Untraceable changes and updates introduce instability into an already overly complex and vital system to the business. Personal agendas and priorities drive the changes without considering the benefit or detriment to the business. IT staff, desiring to do a good job and meet the needs, work at full speed but seem to fall short at the end of the day.

Utility Services takes the inefficiencies, the uncertainties, the liabilities and the insecurities out of IT Request Fulfillment. By funneling requests through an automated and organized process, duplication of effort is eliminated, overspending on materials is slashed, workloads can be adjusted to align with business needs, personal agendas can be removed and priorities are established to truly meet the business’ highest priorities for the greatest gain.

We have seen companies transformed saving millions of dollar annually on purchases alone. IT efficiency increased dramatically and the stability of the infrastructure reached desired service levels without significantly increasing costs. The implementation and definition of Utility Services takes a chaotic methodology, structures it and drives it for the maximum utility to the business.

You are invited to obtain our free whitepaper, “The Games We Play: Conquering The Challenge of IT Fulfillment” by fellow consultant Cheryl Winters. Simply Click Here to get a copy.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Siemens New UC Server

Copyright © 2008 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

March 3, 2008

UC Migration Strategy Takes More Shape With Siemens Announcement

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

If you have been reading all the blogs and commentaries put out by industry analysts and pundits, you know that everyone has been trying to define what UC really is all about and, more importantly, how to get there from here.

Part of the problem is that some obvious prerequisites for the UC vision have not been met from an open, standards perspective, i.e., “federated presence” across enterprise and service provider networks. The other part of the problem that scares IP management is how to start a UC migration selectively, yet be “future-proofed” for the new capabilities that UC might offer, especially in a mobile, device independent world.

Up to this point, the practical recommendation for UC migration has been to avoid replacing telephony systems that still work for internal users, but start replacing end-of-life voice mail systems to exploit the benefits of unified messaging as a major component of UC. In addition, focus on selectively adding mobile UC capabilities via hosted services for those business users who are key to high-value business processes. Finally, get ready for mobile consumers who will be using personalized “smart phones’ for customer contacts and will need the support of multimodal agents for assistance, as well as multimodal self-service applications (not just IVR) to do business.

The Siemens announcement appears to have put more meat on the bones of enterprise and service provider UC that will enable IT management to start planning customized UC implementation strategies that can be open and “future-proofed.” It focuses on an open, presence-based “UC server” that provides a place to hang all the UC application hats on, rather than just an IP telephony server that would integrate with other UC applications.

What I noticed in particular about the Siemens announcement was that although they do offer IP telephony interoperability as software, they didn’t even mention telephone devices at all. Interesting!

I have a lot of practical questions about this announcement, so stay tuned for more.

What Do You Think?

Let us know your comments and opinions by sending them to