Key Trends in UC

Key Trends in UC

By Dave Michels June 28, 2013 3 Comments
Dave Michels JPG
Key Trends in UC by Dave Michels

It has been a very busy Spring. I’ve attended Enterprise Connect, UC Summit, and AR events by ALU, AastraAvaya, SEN, and Mitel. Unfortunately, I could not attend CiscoLive, NEC Advantage, and WebRTCExpo due to conflicts. However, some clear themes are bubbling to the top.

When the vendors moved from TDM to VoIP and UC, each vendor’s story was unique. ShoreTel pushed simplicity, Cisco video, Avaya SIP, Mitel virtualization, and so on. Today, each vendor still has nuanced angles, but many aspects of the bigger picture vision are aligning.

Here’s a cheat sheet for talking points with your vendors to cut to the chase.

  • Video: Video continues its push migration from group settings to group and personal settings. The cost for quality video solutions is plummeting and rapidly becoming a core communications right. The UC video “vision” has three key components: the actual video infrastructure, the networking impacts, and channel implications. Most vendors support point-to-point, but be sure to inquire about mixing groups with personal solutions.

  • Mobility: It’s a simple and innocent word, but represents a lot more than an app for a smartphone. It’s about BYOD, security encryption of data, transparency of personal phone numbers, and control. Technically, it’s the transparency of location, as in where a person is actually working becoming irrelevant. Consumerization and BYOD have largely converged in the space of mobility. Everyone can demo an iPad as an extension (does not impress any more). Most vendors offer the ability to move live calls between devices. The new areas of differentiation include contact center (agent and supervisor clients), video integrated into the clients, and single number support for SMS.

  • The Cloud: No UC vendor can talk for more than five minutes without referring to their “cloud” solution – but rarely are any of them talking about the same thing. There’s public cloud which gets delivered directly and/or via third-party providers. There are private clouds which sometimes come on a disc and sometimes on a server, and then there are wholesale clouds sold to both carriers and resellers. Sometimes the cloud solution and the premises solution are the same, which offers potential toward future hybrid solutions (2014). Talk to vendors about scalability and flexibility.

  • Social Business: Social networking is the inverse of email. If you cc too many people on email, they get annoyed, and reply-alls are even more annoying. The inverse is just publicly post messages and let the receivers self filter. It’s called social business and if you didn’t get the memo, you didn’t look in the right place. All the vendors are talking-up tight integration with social business, but most are currently limited to the contact center. I expect a lot of activity here in 2014.

  • WebRTC: Nothing perks-up an ear better than “WebRTC.” As a result the UC vendors are happy to discuss it, though often in cryptic hushed tones. Most vendors will initially embrace it at the consumer end of the the contact center. WebRTC is not a technology the UC vendors can control, so most are cautiously embracing it. It will likely replace softphones, UC clients, and potentially even harsher disruption over time. It will drive down revenue, and could also impact margin. Fighting it won’t help, but embracing it at this time doesn’t make a lot of sense either.

Huge differences remain between vendors. I have my bets from a technology perspective, but the technical vision doesn’t always win. What will matter the most in 2014 isn’t the technology, but the overall experience.

Dave’s blog is


3 Responses to "Key Trends in UC" - Add Yours

Roberta J. Fox 7/1/2013 9:02:59 AM

Great summary Dave! As usual, you nailed the top trends very succinctly. The only thing I would add is that none of the vendors are giving our clients any recommendations on how they can help transform their organizations (either users or IT departments) to deal with the human factors of moving to the technologies you discussed.

It would be great if they could also give guidance to help clients evolve the people skills, and not just the technology so that they can maximum the benefits from the investments.
Dave Gilbert 7/1/2013 10:45:46 AM

Thanks for your view Dave. There is HUGE opportunity in UC at this unprecedented point in history. Software and hardware have collided and those who have the knowledge and wherewithal to execute this "curve in the road" will fully realize the powerful benefits of this change in business communications.

You did a great service for us in your quick post by giving us a thumbnail look at what is developing in the UC space. All I can say is Wow! What an interesting world we work in. The race to zero has stopped while we embrace the mystery of how to put all this new technology together in a way that benefits the customer. Ahhh, where there is mystery there is margin.
Art Rosenberg 7/4/2013 10:35:45 AM


Good overview of where UC is becoming more important and practical. Although you did mention mobility and the contact center, I think UC will play an increasing role in mobile customer self-services that also enable more flexible access to live assistance than the old "0 out" in voice mail and IVR applications. I describe my views in this post at:

What also seems to be happening is that marketing and sales are exploiting consumer mobility by aggressively targeting personalized telemarketing campaigns to individual consumers, based on the voluminous activity and location information they can now collect. That's not exactly always "customer service!"

So, we need to provide more control to contact recipients, in addition to facilitating outbound contacts by initiators. "Presence" status management is not selective and simple enough.

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