UCStrategies Review of Enterprise Connect 2013

UCStrategies Review of Enterprise Connect 2013

By Jim Burton March 28, 2013 Leave a Comment
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UCStrategies Review of Enterprise Connect 2013 by Jim Burton

In this Industry Buzz podcast moderated by Jim Burton, the UCStrategies Experts deliver their impressions of Enterprise Connect 2013, held March 17-20 in Orlando. The discussion includes Blair PleasantMarty Parker, Phil Edholm, Don Van Doren, Michael Finneran, Steve Leaden, Kevin Kieller, and Art Rosenberg.

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Transcript for UCStrategies Review of Enterprise Connect 2013

Jim Burton: Welcome to UCStrategies industry buzz, this is Jim Burton and I’m joined by the team of UC experts and most of us were at Enterprise Connect last week and that’s what this discussion is going to be all about. So I’ll get it started.

One of the things that I observed is that Enterprise Connect tried to change the themes of the keynote presentations. The objective I know that they had was to try to shorten them; have them be more strategic planning, directing and vision statements, as opposed to sales pitches. Well, quite frankly that didn’t work out so well for them. It seems that the vendors just can’t get away from that, and had some interesting comments to make. There were some very interesting presentations, and without naming names I’ll say that I viewed one of them as being lectured to, one of them had a demo God problem, and another one and I will name the name here – was Microsoft who has finally got all of the click-to-communicate components together. Actually Derek Burney gave a very, very compelling presentation, I thought, and it was interesting to see how powerful the Lync solution could be. By the way, I’m not trying to take away from the other two keynotes, Avaya and Cisco, but I really thought that Derek gave the best of the keynote presentations.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about my presentation, which was panel that had a number of people talking about whether UC is on a plateau, or going over a cliff. There is no question but what everyone thought we’ve got a lot of growth to continue on and that it’s an uphill path. It’s certainly not a plateau.

One of the comments, though, that was made on a regular basis, was about an article I wrote recently called “Is it a Two-Horse Race?,” commenting that maybe it’s down to a Microsoft and a Cisco challenge out there. Again, not to say that there aren’t other worthy competitors. That is such a hot topic and we heard a lot of it at the conference and we are going to have a separate podcast to talk about that.

So without any further ado I’m going to turn it over to my colleague, Blair Pleasant, who has some very interesting comments to make. Blair, over to you.

Blair Pleasant: Great – thanks, Jim. Yeah, boy, I’m still recovering from it (Enterprise Connect). It was an amazing show. Pretty much it was the place to be for unified communications, except of course for the UC Summit. But I did my UC market overview, and at 8:00 in the morning I was really happy with the turnout and the quality of questions that people asked.

One thing I talked about is the importance of focusing on use cases and I mentioned that one of the changes I’ve seen in the past year is that the vendors now, they’re no longer talking about speeds and feeds and technology – well, except for Kevin Kennedy. But most of the vendors are really focused on the use cases and the user experience. And it was interesting that a lot of the questions that people had during the session and also afterwards when they came up to ask me questions, a lot of the questions focused on what are some of the use cases and how do you identify them? So I was really pleased to see that people are thinking about that some more.

The other questions that came up a lot during the session, and also afterwards, were about interoperability. There was a lot of concern about “I’ve got Avaya in my contact center and Lync in my enterprise; how do I get them to work together,” or, “how do I get Cisco and Lync to work together?” So there were a lot of questions about that; so it still seems like there’s a lot of education that needs to happen in the industry about interoperability and how it works and who can do it and who plays nicely together.

So aside from presenting at a couple sessions and going to a couple sessions, I spent a lot of my time at vendor briefings. There were, I think I counted about 15 briefings that I had, and they were all really informative. I just wrote an article for UCStrategies about shout-outs about some of the briefings.

Obviously the demo that we got from Dolby was just amazing, and the quality was just outstanding. I met with NEC and they talked about their cloud offering, and I’m still impressed that NEC is one of the few vendors that has really broken the code when it comes to coming up with the right formula to incentivize their resellers and partners to sell these hosted solutions. They seem to be really making some headway with this.

Interactive intelligence also announced their small call center hosted offering. Avaya talked about their collaborative cloud hosted offering. So that was really a trend during my briefings – about all these cloud offerings.

Siemens, I was really pleased with. They really focused again on the user experience and use cases, and they’re doing a rebranding with their amplifyTEAMS and amplifyTEAMS Now! with some packaged offerings. Again, focused on use cases and specific types of users.

So I think the trend is really there as far as, again, moving from what are the specific technologies, what are the features and capabilities, to really what’s UC all about, and how is it benefiting customers and what’s the real value to organizations, and then how can organizations figure out the use cases so that the CIO and the CEO and everyone will be behind it.

And I probably went over my time so Jim, back to you.

Jim Burton: Blair you did, but it was good stuff. Thanks. Marty, you had some pretty powerful sessions, and quite a number of them, and I know you’ve got a lot of feedback.

Marty Parker: Great Jim. People can read more about what I’m going to say by looking at the UC eWeekly if you’re a subscriber, or that will show up as a post on No Jitter. My one line headline is “The End of an Era.” This industry turned the corner at Enterprise Connect 2013. In the Tuesday morning session, the customers, all three customers, said they would not be buying another PBX. One was clearly moving to the cloud, the other two were going to be buying UC platforms because they said voice is just one media in the mix of e-mail, IM, web sharing and video. The industry has changed, as we predicted.

The second is that what we have to buy on UC systems is very competitive, very complete, very cost effective. In the UC without a new PBX RFP (session) we had seven vendors competing, and all seven of them can deliver unified communication plugged-in next to the PBX you already own; don’t have to buy new PBX, don’t have to buy new phones. And they can do that for less than $10 per user, per month or on a five-year total cost of ownership, and by the way, those numbers include installation and maintenance and upgrades and hardware refresh. It’s breaking through that barrier. Very cost effective. You can read more about that.

And where do you go with all of this stuff? It’s not just to media, it’s not just to multi-media or multi-modal, it’s to apps. And that’s the other thing that came out at Enterprise Connect. For the first time in years we had a CEBP session and we had Cisco, Microsoft, NEC and Siemens and all four of those companies had some very interesting application case studies; that was the price of admission, you had to bring case studies – real live case studies. And we also saw apps in the booths, we saw apps in the Best of Enterprise Connect winner, and we saw apps in the Innovation Showcase winners run by Dave Michels.

So we see that the “voice-only world” is done. Unified communications has arrived. It’s a platform for applications. And the last thing I’ll say is it was the biggest and best exhibit show that I have seen in years. It was wall to wall, and every part of the value chain was there, from systems integrators, significantly more of them selling apps by the way, to cloud-based providers, to cloud-based video hubs, to carriers, to the core system providers. So it was a great show.

Jim Burton: Thanks a lot, Marty. Phil, I know you’ve got a number of things to say and of course we want to make sure you have a little bit of discussion about WebRTC since we all know that’s an important area to you; so I’ll turn it over to you.

Phil Edholm: Thanks, Jim. To pick up on what Marty said, I think this is in many ways the end of an era, but the beginning of another and we saw that at Enterprise Connect this year. Enterprise Connect is which I think of as kind of the pulse of the enterprise communications marketplace, reflecting the changes that are going on. Just like after 2000, after the Y2K transformation, was the end of an era. It was the end really of the TDM-PBX era, and we saw the beginning of the IP era. And I think in many ways we saw the same thing at Enterprise Connect this year. We saw the end of the transition in the PBX industry to UC. But then we saw the beginning of this new birth, which is WebRTC. So there was a one-day conference within a conference. A lot of interesting views on WebRTC.

I think the thing that’s most telling with WebRTC is 27 of the vendors at the show, including all the major UC vendors, have indicated they either have today or will shortly have statements about WebRTC products in their portfolio. So what we’re seeing is WebRTC really exploding and transforming the market. And I think it’s an exciting thing for everyone and one of the messages that really came out of this conference was that by next year WebRTC is not just going to be a side show, I think it’s going to be a major part of this conference. So getting ready for that for enterprises is really important and I would encourage everyone in the enterprise to look at some of the other WebRTC events that are available this year as well.

A couple other comments. The comment that was made earlier by Jim around Microsoft and Cisco. I did a session on “Lync versus Jabber, How Do You Decide?” It was a quantitative analysis technique combined with some reactions by some senior Microsoft and Cisco field engineers. Pretty lively session. One thing is there is a post on UCStrategies, and if you would like a copy of that tool there is a way to obtain that. It was made available to everybody in the session. The session had almost 500 people in it and of those 500, 180 asked for the copy of the tool. So it was a pretty strong interest. This seems to be a significant issue in the industry right now as to how to decide between those two.

Two final comments on things that I thought were interesting and portend further changes in our industry. The first was the Dolby spatial audio, being a long term spatial audio person, I thought it really exciting that Dolby is out there with spatial audio. It does offer some very interesting opportunities for certain kinds of meetings, certain kinds of environments and I would encourage everyone to check it out.

And then the comment that was made earlier about Interactive Intelligence. I thought their decision to enhance their offer by moving downscale in the cloud was both logical and also game changing in terms of the contact center space; so I think some exciting announcements, exciting changes and I think between now and next Enterprise Connect a year from now the industry is going to go through some pretty dramatic changes, and I look forward to being here with all of you and covering them. Thanks.

Jim Burton: Thank you, Phil. Michael, you were a very busy guy at the show, knowing that you’re kind of putting together – you did put together the entire mobility track, which was fairly extensive, and I’m sure you’ve got some comments on that as well as some other thoughts about the conference. So over to you, Michael.

Michael Finneran: Thank you, Jim. Yeah, it was a great conference. Fred and Eric did a superb job; it’s the place to meet and learn about UC and the important developments in our technology. Of course on the mobility front, the big topics were as we expected: mobile device management, BYOD policy development, how do we ensure security? What wasn’t a big topic were mobile UC clients, although I do spend a lot of time looking into them. Actually I spent a lot of time on the show floor seeing how things like the mobile Jabber, Lync mobile, the 1X solutions from Avaya, OpenScape Mobile from Siemens. How to compare and contrast? They are indeed growing up. Unfortunately they’re still not selling so it’s a bit off the mark there.

Probably the most interesting thing I saw that when the mobility space was in Rob Lloyd’s keynote for Cisco when he was talking about those location analytics. That’s something we’re looking at an awful lot in the mobile space today, determining where people are and what we can do with them when they’re there. Apple is apparently moving in the same area now; they just plunked down $20 million for a company called WiFiSLAM that does indoor location.

Of course we’ll have to learn how to use these things appropriately. People don’t necessarily want us bursting into their smart phones out of the blue. But in terms of location, actually in the UC space, the only two guys we’re still seeing doing anything there are ShoreTel and Mitel. There’s a lot going on in mobility, but wait and see when the UC guys start getting their fingers into it a little more deeply. Back to you, Jim.

Jim Burton: Thanks, Michael. Don, what are your observations?

Don Van Doren: Well great, Jim, thanks very much. Phil and Marty both commented on where we are era-wise, the end of the era in sort of telephony as we knew it from a PBX standpoint. And then the beginning of a new era, Phil I assume was talking about WebRTC that’s coming on the mark.

Let me focus a little bit about where we are era-wise with UC. I think we’re in the middle game. The buzz has clearly moved to new shiny objects, WebRTC for example. And we saw that all over the show as Phil alluded to. But in UC, what I found really interesting was that I think that the vendors are now getting around to actually making the slide wear several years ago fully operational.

When I was on the show floor I thought there were a lot of really interesting new capabilities. Clearly the applications that were popping up everywhere, click-to-communicate capabilities, fully developed, much better integrations, both between vendors and within one vendor’s own product line.

So I think what’s happened here is that this show really demonstrated that we’ve, as I say, moved into the middle game. We’re at a point now where the things that were promised before, really work, and really work well. And I think that obviously is going to be a very important game changer going forward. Back to you, Jim.

Jim Burton: Thanks, Don. It’s very interesting; your comment about how these things work and work well, I think is important. One of the other, and one of the most exciting things I saw at the conference was Dolby’s technology for providing spatial audio on conference calls. Not only spatial, but giving you the same impact that you have if you’re sitting in a crowded room or a bar, where you can concentrate, and your head does the audio processing. So you can carry on communications with the person near you. It’s really incredible, and I think quite frankly it’s going to change the way our industry works. They had announced a partnership with BT, that will be their initial go-to-market partner, and after some period of time they plan on taking their technology and putting it into other communications devices. So that’s an area to keep an eye out for, we actually did a podcast with them much earlier in the month.  

Steve you were busy at the show. What did you find out?

Steve Leaden: Jim, yes fortunately – many of us we were all quite busy, myself as well. As Mike had shared a little bit earlier, thanks so much to Fred and to Eric who really put on such a great show. It was very well attended. From what I understand from a conversation with Fred, it was the largest floor in years, if ever, in terms of just pure square footage. The one thing that I definitely noticed was that there were a lot more decision makers there. It seems to be a trade show that’s now moving upwards into the CTO and CIO space. And we’re seeing a lot more of that, so it’s obviously getting the recognition that it needs to in terms of unified communications as a game changer and a game player in the entire IT space at large.

So I was fortunate enough to lead four sessions Jim, one on Desktop Collaboration, Where the Future Was; that was very, very interesting, had some interesting discussion right off the desk top and if the tablet is going to potentially replace it in some specific verticals. And where is the mobile device potentially going in terms of a possible replacement? I had great attendance at that, actually at all three of my sessions. I had great attendance at the SBC’s role in the Enterprise; had some great discussions about why should you have an SBC relative to SIP trunking and other kinds of media.  I noticed on the floor that we had Sonus, Genband, Acme Packet, Cisco and others having a major presence in the SP space on the floor. So again, some major trends in that area. Had some great discussion around Hurricane Sandy, had some great discussion as well around cloud contracts, the cloud is definitely taking place big time and there are some definite end user -- enterprise users looking at the cloud as a possible replacement platform and they were very interested in hearing more about the contrast elements.

So on the floor, Jim, the other things I saw... a couple of things that stood out was the NEC offering. I had a briefing with NEC and they’ve been talking about their cloud offering for a while, but I was with Jay Krauser and a couple of his folks over there, and it was very interesting to see that the cloud offering is totally managed. As Blair had alluded to before, they got it right in terms of financing. Putting some capital up front of the VARs so they don’t have to suffer in terms of too much loss in the migration to cloud.  Interestingly, they’re providing a guaranteed five nines SLA in their space. They have a 24 x 7 NOC, they’re providing E911 advantages, and they’re providing full financing for all of their components including end points, data switches, routers, cabling and other components.

And Jim, the last topic I found and it was a little nook in the Siemens booth and it’s actually called the Siemens OpenScape Health Station and its basically interactive TV and it’s used for both clinicians as well as at the patient level. And for the patient it’s all about you can do internet browsing, you can review bios of your physicians that are going to be taking care of you, you can be doing patient surveys, you can watch regular TV on it, it -- you can actually order meals for either for yourself or for your family and literally it will provide you reminders about your medication.   And then on the clinician side it’s all about having an interactive clinical panel to look at x-rays and other log ins, etc. It’s a major, major change that’s happening in the healthcare space and it looks like Siemens is ready for that. So, very exciting to see what’s going on this year, I definitely think as Marty mentioned a little bit earlier that we are migrating towards a full UC platform here and less about the PBX. It’s -- I think it’s just an exciting time to be in our space over all Jim, back to you.

Jim Burton: Great, thanks a lot. I really appreciate it Steve. Well Kevin Kieller you’re the next on my list of people to ask, what were your thoughts about the conference?

Kevin Kieller: Thank you, Jim. As other people have mentioned, Fred and Eric did a great job setting up and executing Enterprise Connect 2013. I was thrilled to be a part of it. While my favorite informal session turned out to be the UCStrategies annual wine tasting, it was a great opportunity in an informal setting to have some discussions with a very large group of smart people.

In the formal setting, I had the opportunity to run the “Living with Lync” session. This was super well attended, standing room only, and I really think it goes to show the enthusiasm and interest in Microsoft Lync, and I think, as was mentioned earlier, Derek Burney in the Microsoft keynote, really captured and communicated in an entertaining, informative, and touching way, just how far Microsoft has brought the Lync product.

The panel that was put together for the Living with Lync session I found to be terrific. We had

Pierre St-Aubin, an Associate Partner from Deloitte Canada representing a large organization using Lync; Mike Palmer, Director of IT, from the City of Langford, representing a smaller organization that’s using Lync; Dave Damer, the President and CEO of Thinktel, talking about certified SIP trunking and how that works with Lync; and then we had Dino Caputo, the Lead UC Architect from Softchoice, talking about some of the technical opportunities and challenges. In fact the panel jelled so well that they approached me afterwards and we’re going to try to continue a Living with Lync session of articles, a series of articles, on NoJitter, so look for that coming up.

Enterprise Connect 2013 really was for the first time an idea factory for me, specifically around new products ideas, new UC platform ideas. Our Dave Michels hosted an API session, and there were really four key building blocks that I saw that fed into, and made my head expand and threaten to explode in terms of product ideas.

There was the Dolby audio conferencing, the spatial technology that I hope to see integrated into many new products because it was  just amazing – something that had to be heard to be understood.

There were the Twilio and Plivo cloud-based APIs, that allow you to add on some significant call and texting services to other components.

And then there was WebRTC. Once again, I contend that WebRTC is not a complete solution, and those who suggest it is are probably overhyping it, but I see WebRTC being an absolutely core building block that in future years we are going to see added on to many platforms; many of the existing platforms from larger vendors, but also open up some additional capabilities and additional product ideas.

So a fantastic week, and I’m looking forward to Enterprise Connect 2014, and with that, back to you, Jim.

Jim Burton: Thanks Kevin.  We have one UCStrategies expert who was not able to attend this year, but he certainly has some thoughts on market trends and where the contact center is going, so can I turn that over to you, Art?

Art Rosenberg: Thank you. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make the show this year because I know so many things are happening. But I was watching the announcements, and I can see the trend slowly but surely coming up to the vision that I see of the future, which is, it’s not just large organizations, but also any-sized organization that is doing business or whatever the business is. And they are exploiting the unified communications and mobility all over the place and the big area that on which they’re going to be basing their movement is cloud-based.

People are not looking to buy stuff. They don’t want to own stuff; they just want to use it. So it’s very service-oriented, and that’s where the technology is now allowing things to happen. It could be managed, it could be hybrid, whatever. The point is, that kind of flexibility is going across all forms of communications as well as all applications that can be affected by communications, which we properly call CEBP.

So I see that the door is starting to open and things are starting to happen. It won’t be overnight because a lot of people have too much invested, don’t know yet enough about the new technology, and don’t have the expertise. But on the other hand, the people supplying the services are going to be providing that kind of expertise and filling in the gaps. So I see things slowly but surely starting to change from the way we used to do things, how we used to communicate for business, as opposed to the way it’s going to be.

Jim Burton: Great, well thank you so much, Art. This has been a great discussion – there must be a couple of follow-up comments people would like to make.

Marty Parker: I’ll just come back to the start Jim, and look back to the first VoiceCon, now it’s called Enterprise Connect, in 2006, where we had the first as I recall four sessions on unified communications. This year we were involved in well over 20 sessions about unified communications. So it certainly has been filling the space and I would say that it’s also fulfilling the vision because as you recall back in 2006 we were the first to use the phrase, “Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes,” as the definition of UC. That is that unified communications is not a just a description of what’s happening in the development labs. It’s not just a description of technology integration. It’s really about how to change business and that’s what we’re seeing happen. So it’s fun to see it taking form and I agree with Don, we’re in the middle of this cycle. The future lies ahead with all the exciting stuff that really will be done to transform business processes.

Art Rosenberg: Marty this is Art again, I just wanted to follow up on some of your earlier comments and ask if you could describe what’s happening in terms of the role of unified communications as part of self-service applications, not person-to-person contacts, but notifications and CEBP kinds of activities where you have the apps coming into play, and that also needs the flexibility of UC. Because people when they’re mobile can be more accessible; on the other hand it depends on what mode that is appropriate at the time that is probable. So if you could comment how that’s going to be affected.

Marty Parker: I think that what UC provides, Art, is a vision for people that are providing self service and a vision for people that are running business applications. So in the case of self service, it’s all about serving your customer most quickly, most efficiently, with minimum labor; so it’s really a business process. And the winner of the Best of Enterprise Connect this year was Voxio, who rose to their current state through the IVR world. But now they won the award because they have a platform that supports a single application definition deployed into an IVR suite, deployed onto mobile devices and deployed as SMS interactions. So they’ve covered three different modes, consumer or user modes, with a single platform.

So it’s the idea that they figured out, “Oh, Unified communication is showing me that people use more than voice. They’re using multiplied modes, I’ll provide it to them in a way that is most convenient for them and that way I’ll serve my customers better.” The same with communications enabled business processes; it’s all about the business process. I want to give the Cisco team credit – Ms. Radia on the CEBP panel had three really key words. She talked about looking at a business process step-by-step in trying to either eliminate, shrink, or enhance, and so she said, “I want to take every step in the process; can I get rid of that step with better UC function? Can I shrink it by making the communications more efficient, or can I use the new capabilities such as mobility and enhance it?” Brilliant piece, it’s worth downloading that presentation and when the recording is available listening to what she had to say about that.

So that’s my response. UC is informing the vision for those people, and when they get the vision, it’s providing the technology.

Jim Burton: Thank you everybody; I appreciate your time today and look forward to talking to you next week.


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