Unified Communications Nation

March 31, 2009  2:17 PM

VoiceCon Avaya keynote: SIP has come of age

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Avaya’s CEO Kevin Kennedy delivered the first keynote at this year’s VoiceCon Orlando, and he took the opportunity to introduce Avaya Aura, a new SIP-based session manager that ties together all of the company’s other technologies, including its IP PBX, its presence server, its messaging server, etc. Avaya also claims it will tie other vendor’s technology into a single system.

Kennedy says SIP has come of age. Clearly Avaya is placing its faith in SIP’s ability to take unified communications to the next level by allowing enterprise networks to focus on sessions rather than packets and giving users access to applications regardless of what network their on.

Kennedy and fellow Avaya executive Brett Shockley demonstrated a lab Facebook application, built on Aura, that would allow enterprise contact center to have video conferencing sessions directly with customers through Facebook. The customer service rep could see the customer’s Facebook page, have context for what the customer is interested in, and conduct a transaction through Facebook. This was pretty cool. I saw a lot of positive buzz on Twitter during the keynote. I’ll write more in depth on Aura later in the show on SearchUnifiedCommunications.com.

March 25, 2009  4:15 PM

Telepresence will kill airline profits

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

I don’t know how this escaped my attention last month but Gartner predicted that video telepresence will take away $3.5 billion in revenue from the airline industry by 2012. That’s got to make executives at Delta and US Air wince.

As part of its top 10 predictions for 2009, Gartner predicted that telepresence would replace 2.1 million airline seats per year by 2012. In making this prediction, Gartner declined to estimate how much telepresence is costing airlines today.

Given how ruinous telepresence promises to be for the airline industry, I’m left wondering if the Deltas and US Airs of the world are investing in telepresence themselves. Will executives at airlines try to save money by holding high level meetings via telepresence, or will they stubbornly refuse to adopt this technology and continue to fly to on-site meetings in some symbolic effort to support the business.

Another interesting prediction from Gartner: By the end of 2013, 40% of enterprise knowledge workers will have abandoned or removed their desk phones.  This certainly applies to me. I’d be happy to throw my desk phone in the trash if my employer agreed to subsidize part of the service plan for my iPhone.  As it is, I work from home twice a week, and on those days my iPhone is my only means of telephony.

Hat Tip to John Willis

March 23, 2009  3:37 PM

Who should drive unified communications investment in contact centers?

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Aspect, a vendor of contact center software, published a survey of 300 European organizations about their attitudes toward unified communications. It has some of the usual banal findings (85% of respondents believe UC improves customer satisfaction and 67% believe it will deliver cost advantages within three to five years).

The interesting nugget of research is sort of tucked away in the published findings: People are sharply divided over who should be driving investment in unified communications technology for contact centers. Fifty percent say it should be handled by IT organizations while 50% said it should be driven by customer service organizations.  What if the survey offered respondents a third possible answer, such as, “Investment should be driven equally by the IT organization and the customer service organization?” I imagine we’d see a lot of agreement on that option.

March 20, 2009  5:03 PM

Avaya starts layoffs

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

This week I’ve been hearing rumors that Avaya has laid off a bunch of employees this month. Avaya went private back in 2007, so I doubt they’ll release any specific information on the extent of the layoffs and where they are occurring. But I did reach out to their PR folks to ask them what was going on.

Lynn Newman, Avaya’s director of corporate communications sent me this statement.

In December, we told our employees we’d be reducing the size of our workforce in response to the global economic slowdown The notifications about reductions are happening in different regions at different times.

Avaya’s situation isn’t unique. Plenty of companies that play in the UC market are having layoffs, just like any other industry. Microsoft and Cisco both laid people off a few months ago. No one is immune, sadly.

March 20, 2009  4:19 PM

Business moving in on social networking: SocialText

Leigha Leigha Cardwell Profile: Leigha

While flying NWA recently, as recently as January, I picked up their WorldTraveler magazine expecting to find the usual travel fodder about exotic vacation spots, spa treatments and where to find the best jambalaya in New Orleans when, to my surprise, the following title caught my eye: Taking care of Business: How social-networking sites can help you win friends/colleagues/contracts and influence people.

I was particularly interested that the words “business” and “social networking” were kindly sharing space within the same title – almost like they were meant to be there together. Hum? In my opinion, these words should rarely, if ever, be separated. Not that I’m all about business, or that I’m not a social person, but I will confess that I’ve grown quite weary of reading about who’s walking their English bulldog, or who’s finally reached that cobweb in the top corner of their office that’s been the bane of their existence for at least days, etc. Sorry mom and probably ex-best friend!

I want to see what these fantastic collaboration tools can do once the worlds of business and social networking truly collide in some fabulous cosmic wonder.

There are sites aimed at business professionals that are doing quite well, but have yet to reach their full potential. For example, in the NWA article, a woman starting a new online fashion marketplace used Facebook’s, “What’s on your mind?” box to solicit expertise from her alma mater’s alumni list, and within minutes had viable, expert offers from her friends/associates to help get her site off and running.

I have many other examples of enterprise-level companies leveraging these tools to their competitive advantage, either through successful marketing campaigns, to solicit honest feedback from customers, and resolving internal issues in a timely way. I’ll get into that in later blogs.

It’s sites like LinkedIn, Socialtext and Jive software that are offering more work-centric networks by limiting the “friends” list to customers and colleagues and even to specific projects. These are the sites that are currently holding my attention.

For now, I’m going to focus on Socialtext and its feature called Wiki Workspaces.

According the Socialtext site, Socialtext Workspace is an easy-to-use enterprise wiki that reduces by 1/3 the time your staff spends searching for information and people every day, and speeds up cycle times in every function across the organization.

1/3 of one’s time is a big number to support. I’m interested to know if any of our readers are finding themselves with that much time on their hands by using Socialtext?

From the Socialtext Workspace page:

How often do you ask yourself, “Where was it I saw that? Who sent it? When did they send it? What was the file called?” When we use e-mail and attached documents to get our work done, topics get fragmented across many places. According to IDC, employees spend up to 25% of their day looking for information. The process of getting work done involves a series of conversations – asking questions and gathering ideas and feedback. Instead of fragmenting a topic across different places, you need a single go-to place for each topic. And your conversations need to be released from the constraints of a document paradigm, so with each interaction you get the full context of the who, what and why.

A single go-place for a topic? That’s Martha-Stewart quality organization. That’s what I need. I’m guessing that’s what most of us could use. Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president with Yankee group, says they [social networking sites] allow users to self create communities for ad hoc or structured collaboration and that they are an important part of enterprise collaboration. Well, say no more, Zeus. We’re with you!

Here’s some of the cool tools Socialtext offers:

  • Socialtext Workspace for group collaboration with tagging, search, notifications, and email integration, all on WYSIWYG-editable web pages.
  • Socialtext People for integrated social networking, following and keeping up with others.
  • Socialtext Dashboard, the personal home page that lets you focus your attention on what’s most important.

Apparently users should stay alert because there more innovative (and commonsensical) ways to incorporate social networking sites into viable collaboration tools for your business coming soon. Goody!

March 19, 2009  9:09 PM

A modest proposal

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Hello world, this is Shamus McGillicuddy, news editor at SearchUnifiedCommunications.com. I will be a regular contributor to Unified Communications Nation. I hope this blog becomes a good place for you to visit when you want to keep up on what’s happening in the UC industry, or maybe when you just want to blow off some steam and have a laugh.

And with that in mind, blowing off steam is probably something enterprise communications managers need a lot of help with.  I’m thinking of fairly common headaches. For instance, you switch over your legacy voice system to a new IP telephony platform. And overnight your staff emails instructions on how to use the new phones to every user. Just to cover your bases, you make sure  to leave a printed set of those instructions on every desk. And yet, dozens of users still manage to delete the email and recycle the print outs without even reading them. Then they flood your team with complaints such as “On the old phones I had to dial 9 to get an outside line. Now I don’t. That’s so confusing.”

If you were Frank Costanza from “Seinfeld,” then you would probably bellow something like “Serenity now!” to keep your blood pressure down when faced with a snafu like that.  But I’d like to propose a new mantra, or catch phrase for the guys managing voice and video.

I’m thinking of a phrase that would simultaneously help you blow off steam and allow you to say what you’d really like to say to the users who keep misusing the communications technology you’ve carefully installed for them. That perfect phrase, that when spoken with the right amount of rage and contempt, just fills your heart with glee. And it was spoken so perfectly by a fine actor just 27 years ago.

Let them eat static!”

Let me know what you think.

March 19, 2009  6:22 PM

Welcome to our new blog on IT Knowledge Exchange

Leigha Leigha Cardwell Profile: Leigha

I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to some of the new features on our blog and IT Knowledge Exchange.

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Thank you for stopping by and be sure to bookmark our new blog location and visit the Unified Communications Nation section on IT Knowledge Exchange.

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