Jon Arnold Shares His Thoughts on Unified Communications
Jon Arnold is a UC Expert here at UCStrategies, as well as Principal of J Arnold & Associates. His experience in the Unified Communications field extends through well over 20 years, giving him unique insights into the industry and all the benefits of UC, the changes the industry has gone through, and what is yet to come.
We took some time to ask Jon some questions as part of a series on Unified Communications from the perspectives of our UC Experts. His thoughts and insights will prove helpful to anyone using UC, looking to get started, or working in the UC industry.
UCStrategies: What are you most excited about in the UC space?
JA: With growing awareness of what UC has to offer, we’re getting to a point now where the market can be driven both by supply and demand. There is no shortage of push from the supply side, but as cloud permeates everything, we’re seeing more UC-driven offerings from non-traditional players. This means new value propositions and innovation coming purely from the Internet world.
On the demand side, IT is looking to get a better handle on network utilization and needs to play a more active role in making employees more productive. This all plays well into the UC space, and it won’t be long until buyers look beyond everyday connectivity applications. Value for them will be about tools that drive business processes and workflows in ways that are relevant for their employees. This is where UC gets more interesting, and I think we’re going to see more offerings built around the Web and mobile environments instead of being telephony-centric in the style of the incumbent vendors.
UCStrategies: What are you most disappointed in?
JA: How market adoption remains slower than expected in general. This is partly due to the vendors not moving fast enough to how things are changing. They are rushing en masse into the cloud because the market seems to want to go this way – but nobody really knows what’s best in the long run. The cloud seems inevitable at this point for UC, but the track record is still very short.
Another disappointment is how big end user trends like mobility and social media have not yet become central to the UC experience. If this doesn’t happen, UC could end up being just a bundle of applications for the desktop, but bypassed by other solutions that do a better job addressing collaboration needs in those environments.
UCStrategies: If you could give one piece of advice to UC customers (those already using UC or looking to start), what would it be?
JA: Make sure end users have an active role right from the start. If they feel UC is being imposed on them, adoption will stall, especially if this comes with new expectations for employees to be more productive now that they have these new tools. IT’s success with UC ultimately depends on employee adoption, and to drive that, IT may have to wear some new hats. Employees need to see a good reason to engage with UC, and IT has a key role to play here during the deployment phase.
UCStrategies: What do you think UC needs to get to the next level?
JA: Employees need to see UC as a personal platform to be more productive. They know they need to collaborate more effectively, but still need to feel empowered when using new technology. To get them using higher-level UC capabilities, they need to feel in control of the tools, and that’s where personalization comes in. Anything that vendors/channels/IT can do here will make a difference. In my view, the idea is for employees to think of UC as being “their UC” – the way Apple makes you feel with the iPhone, iPad, etc. If instead, they see UC as “your UC,” they’ll be less likely to embrace it for higher-level applications.
At the business end, we all know that a gap needs to be addressed in the channel. All UC vendors struggle to find the right partners, especially for supporting cloud-based offerings. We’re going to see attrition here, as some partners will choose to exit rather than re-invent themselves for the next wave. Vendors will continue investing time and money into upgrading their channels, and as that comes along, we’ll see more dynamic deployments that are built around UC’s higher-end possibilities.
You can reach Jon at email@example.com.