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The UCStrategies Experts discuss the upcoming UC Summit 2012, presented by UCStrategies. The annual event brings together unified communications solutions integrators (systems integrators, VARs, resellers), consultants and vendors, May 6-9, in La Jolla, CA.
This Industry Buzz podcast moderated by Marty Parker. The podcast includes Michael Finneran, Blair Pleasant, Art Rosenberg, Orrin Broberg, Phil Edholm, Don Van Doren, and Steve Leaden.
There are still open spaces available for solutions integrators. Submit an application here if you are interested in attending.
Marty Parker: Hi, this is Marty Parker with UCStrategies, and we are going to have our weekly podcast today on the topic of the UC Summit, the annual UC Summit for 2012 that will be coming up at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa north of San Diego in beautiful La Jolla on May 6, that’s a Sunday afternoon through May 9, noon on Wednesday. So for the full three days we will be having an excellent event. Now first of all I’d like to say that at the UC Summit, our sponsors are going to be key. We’ve got a number of industry leading sponsors who are who are bringing all of their capabilities and knowledge and talent to bear, for our benefit. In the UC system platform category, we’ve got leaders who produce the core software, and switching and networking capabilities, as well as the UC clients and conferencing and video capabilities that are necessary to make this all work. We’ll hear from Cisco, Interactive Intelligence, NEC, Siemens, all the great sponsors of the conference.
We will also hear from those that make the elements that make UC real for us: AVST, with their leading edge messaging and mobility solutions; we’ll hear from AudioCodes and NET, who provide the gateways that in my opinion are the glue that make unified communications easy to install and possible to do. And we’ll hear from some people in the distribution channels, Ingram Micro, for example, will be there partnering with Cisco, but Ingram also represents a wide portfolio of unified communications elements. So across the board we’re going to get lots of great information from the sponsors and we appreciate all they do to help this conference succeed.
Of course, this is all being done for the benefit of the attendees – the people that we’ve invited to come as our guests at the Estancia Resort – and those are people, they are primarily value added resellers and solution integrators, VARs and SIs. And about 20% of the audience we are inviting are consultants. In each case, our belief is that by helping those people, helping each of you who attend to be successful in your business, you will grow your businesses, your profitability, and you will also grow the industry as a result. And of course we’ve always been focused on helping to grow the Unified Communication and collaboration and social communications marketplaces, what Blair calls collaborative communications, and I agree with her. So with that, what I plan to do is call on a number of UC experts and ask them this question: what value do you feel is most important for the attendees? What do you see as a critical component of the value they will receive by attending the UC Summit 2012 – May 6 through 9? And how do you personally plan to contribute to that?
In my case, I think that one of the key values is to improve your business model; is to really determine how you are going to increase the component of Unified Communication in your business model. Which may be more of a expanding your consulting practice for the consultants or for the VARs and SIs, adding a new line of professional services or expanding your professional services department, or becoming expert in new solutions or even creating new UC applications using the various API’s and tool kits that exist. There are many business model improvements that are available to you and I plan to participate in that by working with Dave Michels and we’re going to present, “Where’s the Money?” a key session starting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, to describe where we see the money is to be made in this industry. And people can then watch and shop for the next two and a half days to figure out how they are going to get their – more than their fair share of the revenues and profits available from Unified Communications.
So that’s my idea, but let me hear from Michael Finneran. Michael, you always have fabulous ideas. What’s your answer to those questions?
Michael Finneran (4:13): Well thank you, Marty. Needless to say, I’m going to be focusing on opportunities in the mobile space. Of course, mobile and the integrator line are somewhat opposed. The primary channel to the core, product and mobility, the devices and the services is really tied up with the mobile operators. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t significant opportunities surrounding that. For example, I’ve been working on a survey on mobile security for Information Week Analytics. And one of the questions we’d asked was the deployments of mobile device management systems. Currently, about 25% of customers report having them, though another 31% say they intend to be getting into MDM within the next 24 months. Opportunities in wireless LANs, application maintenance and development; there are a number of areas in mobility that are really core and while everyone has talked a lot about mobility and UC, real effective deployments are still few and far between. So I’ll be talking about what it’s going to take to clear that gap.
But of course the other great value that I always find from the Summit is just the value of the information; both what we try to bring (from UCStrategies), but also the great stuff we hear from the attendees and from the vendors. Dave and I are going to be chairing a round-table for systems integrators, and it’s amazing the ideas that come from the audience. So this is clearly an event about networking and the thing I was surprised the most about is, it’s the best conversation in UC that you are going to have. So I’m looking forward to it and I certainly intend to be weighing in on the mobile side.
Marty Parker (5:37): Well thanks Michael, that’s excellent. Blair Pleasant – you’ve got a fabulous view of the market, at Enterprise Connect you do your UC market reports. What do you see as the value that they will receive by attending (the UC Summit)?
Blair Pleasant: Thanks Marty, certainly what Michael said – the networking is very, very key. But aside from the networking, we are also going to have some focus sessions aimed at providing attendees with information on certain topics. And a couple of the sessions that I’ll be involved in will be on Sunday afternoon. I’m going to present the session about the impact of collaboration and social software as UC evolves to collaborative communication and expands to include collaboration and social. I think that’s really an important trend that we need to focus on and talk about: where are the opportunities there, and how can the re-sellers participate in this important trend? I’ll also be participating in a session with Marty and Dave, providing an overview of some of the leading UC vendors and we’ll be giving some insights about the vendors that the attendees may or may not be involved with. Obviously, the resellers know their vendors very well but there are lots of other vendors who...they need to perhaps get a better understanding of and understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
I’ll also be leading a roundtable panel with some of the UCStrategies UC experts and you’ll be able to hear things that we feel are important for the attendees. And the attendees will have a chance to ask the panelists questions about topics like mobility, video, business transformation, and things like that. But really, the value of attendance, aside from the networking capabilities, are walking away with insights about how to make money in unified communications and collaboration, how to be prepared for the future and understand where the current and future value of UCC is, and really, the opportunity to make money. Marty – back to you.
Marty Parker (7:34): Great Blair, boy that’s… you always do a lot, thank you very much for that. Those are all exciting topics. Art Rosenberg, what key point are you focusing on as a value add for the attendees and how you are going to participate?
Art Rosenberg: Well I think a great opportunity is highlighted in terms of networking, because UC implementation planning is complex, it’s not just one thing, one application, one group or anything like that. It is complex and it requires really expertise in a number of areas, especially when it gets to integration. And nobody can provide everything. So it’s an opportunity for the people who are going to do the heavy lifting, to meet other people who do heavy lifting, but with specialties and experience and so on. So it’s just not meeting the vendors of the technology, but those heavy lifters, who are going to be there, too. And this is where people can network, to work together on particular projects for particular customers and know who’s able to do what, because nobody can do everything. And that’s what I have – so back to you Marty.
Marty Parker (8:42): Great, Art. I think that’s a key point. There are a lot of resellers I know and consultants as well, who have told me that after the Summit, they had a better network of partners for their projects: whether it was an integration project, specialized componentry project, they were better able to do it. Great point. I’m going to call next on Orrin Broberg. Orrin, what do you see as the key value propositions and how you are going to contribute?
Orrin Broberg: I really see the whole concept of business transformation, the re-sellers will be there, learning a lot, certainly meeting some of their fellow re-sellers, comparing notes. And what I hope to be talking about – hopefully with them, one on one and with the group, is how this model of the new business that they are moving towards, how it impacts their organizational structure. What they are going to look like in terms of people, and specifically we’re going to be drilling into the sales transformation processes, thought strategies and tools to help with matching their future sales requirements with what they have now. How do they get there? And maybe even a dialogue with what role vendors can play in supporting this transformation?
Marty Parker (10:02): Wow, that will be great; I think people will really get a lot of value out of those ideas, both in the opportunities that you have to speak about them in the groups as well as in the dialogue. I’m going to call next on Phil Edholm and Phil is now associating himself with UCStrategies after a really distinguished time with Nortel and then Avaya in Chief Technology Officer/Chief Strategy Officer roles. And now becoming an independent consultant, I’m delighted that he’s part of our community at this point and so Phil, what do you see as you look ahead to the first UC Summit from our side of the table that can be delivered as a value and how you’d like to contribute?
Phil Edholm: I think this is an exciting opportunity, I think, for the dialogue with the community around the changes that are going on. I think if anything, our industry is accelerating in change. As different aspects come together to change how people communicate, how they collaborate and how they interact, and I think for both re-sellers and consultants, understanding those changes and how to manage your business for those changes is absolutely essential for success over the next few years.
My personal focus for this conference is on a couple of topics that I think, over the next year will be areas that the community will really begin to think about and understand and work with. One is Web RTC, which is really a technology that transforms browsers into real time communication engines capable of being controlled by servers where the software to actually drive communications, collaborations, interaction, can be written very simply in Java scripts. And it’s going to change the complexity of driving communications in a fundamental and profound way. While this technology will be very nascent over the next year, understanding it and preparing for it I think is very critical.
The other area that’s of particular interest to me is really the advent of video. With the combination of devices being capable of doing video, networks being capable of handling video bandwidth as well as the transformation of the media servers, the centralized bridges and mixers, through software, to be able to handle this cost effectively or deliver it as a cloud service... I think there’s an incredible opportunity in using video to transform organizations, ways we really have not considered yet. So I’m really excited about the opportunity to have the dialogue and begin to really understand myself more about the needs of the community, but also to lend my expertise and background as well.
Marty Parker (12:49): Yes, great Phil. Thank you very much, I’m looking forward to sharing with you at the conference. Let me also call on Don Van Doren. Don, what do you think of the values people will receive and maybe you could put a little point on it for the consultants that will be there? What do you think particularly they will get out of it and how are you planning to add and contribute to that?
Don Van Doren: Well thanks very much. Absolutely it’s going to be a huge opportunity, I think, for consultants here. The first obviously is just another forum to learn about the latest trends in UC capabilities. All the major vendors are there, as well as other adjunct providers, the gateway providers, etc. And so there’s a real opportunity to both see what’s going on but also to meet some of the people that are involved. As Phil mentioned, I think the Summit is really a good way to help learn how to identify what UC opportunities there may be in your client base, as you start seeing how other people have deployed these solutions – that’s clearly going to trigger some ideas for your own uses and your own applications among your clients.
And frankly, all of this is all about building a new dimension for your consulting practice. I think as Marty and I know, from our consulting work, it’s been hugely successful opportunity for us and we think that we’re happy to share some of those ideas with you as well.
Third I’d say, understanding what the role of the channels is in supporting UC deployments. VARs and systems integrators are going to be increasingly important as we go forward in deploying UC solutions and as Orrin mentioned, they’ve got some real challenges in terms of how they make the transition into these new business models. And so I think some of those things can impact the consultant’s projects. So understanding those issues is going to be important.
And finally, as several have mentioned, there’s a lot of networking going on here. There’s real value in meeting key contacts among the vendors, resellers and the systems integrators, and your fellow consultants. So I think there’s going to be huge opportunities for the consultants at this event. Please join us.
Marty Parker (15:00): Great Don, thank you, and I think you put your finger on lots of great value. So with that, let me do just do an open poll, anyone else want to add a point or two?
Art Rosenberg: Marty, I would like to add something I forgot to mention. That is, I will be discussing the opportunity involved with what I call the UC Contact Center, implementing and planning for that because it’s more than the old call center. And it’s more than just for customer interactions – it’s for dealing with people internally to the organization like experts and business partners. So that’s what I wanted to add.
Marty Parker (15:34): Thanks Art. By the way we don’t have time today to hear from every UC expert that’s going to be there, but you will also if you come and participate, you are going to be talking and interacting and networking with others, including Jim Burton and Dave Michels, possibly Jon Arnold, I know Samantha Kane is coming. Steve Leaden will be there, Russell Bennett, I think, will be on some panels and doing a session perhaps as well; just a number of very talented people who are industry leaders, and will really look forward to interacting with you while you are there.
Steve Leaden (16:11): Marty this is Steve. Our practice has a lot of focus on the cloud and I’ll be there talking at least or side barring with those individuals who want to figure out how it’s such a disrupter and how they can use it to their advantage going forward. It will be a $3 billion business according to Gartner within the next 36 months so it’s definitely an industry disruptor and how will people look at it? We have some very large enterprise plans looking at it right now. And then on a personal note, I can tell you, because our space is a little bit more intimate than the larger shows, for me personally and I know that others can chime in here, that it’s probably the best experience that I’ve ever had as a consultant, working with the other VARs, working with the channel, working with the manufacturers. My takeaways personally and I know for others, has been a tremendous takeaway over the last couple of years. And I know that anybody attending this year will I know receive a similar at-a-boy at the end there.
Marty Parker: Yes that’s great, I know that’s going to be true and thanks for bringing out the cloud aspect, Steve. We know in the surveys that we did with the applications that cloud activities are really high on the attendee’s interest list. And as some have said, like Orrin for example, it could be a very interesting transformation of their business model. So thanks for adding that.
Thanks, everyone, for reading and listening to this podcast. There are a few seats; limited seats available, as they say. So if you are a consultant or a value added reseller or solutions integrator who would like to be in La Jolla with us from May 6-9, please get on our website. www.ucstrategies.com, over on the right hand side you’ll see the UC Summit 2012 and go fill in the application and we’ll be in touch with you.
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