The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2011

Alan Percy : The SIP Invite
Alan Percy
| Observations by Alan D. Percy on VoIP enabling technology, industry and our personal reach for success.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2011

It's that time of the year for both a look back at 2011 and a look ahead at 2012.  Here's my personal list of the Telecommunications Industry's Good, Bad and Ugly:

The Good 

Unified Communications has finally hit critical mass this year.  As evidence, 2011 marked the one year anniversary for Microsoft Lync, scoring some significant customer wins. Avaya, Cisco, Shoretel, IBM and other vendors are seeing the conversation change from "if" to "when" Unified Communications is adopted in businesses.  UC and it's transformational change in communications has made a significant impact here at AudioCodes and created some great business opportunities across the equipment maker and software supplier ecosystem.  While at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, we saw a fantastic commitment to Lync from Microsoft and strong interest from the partner community. 

SIP Trunking has also started to gain real traction in the market this last year.  Through most of 2009 and 2010, we did a lot of talking and education on SIP Trunking, but the market penetration was pretty slim.  In 2011 we finally started to see real progress in SIP Trunking implementations and successful customer case studies.

The Bad

Rebuilding Silos - Avaya's decision to implement licensing fees for Session Manager "sessions" that connect to non-Avaya devices has put a serious damper on the concept of "open SIP" solutions and effectively killed future growth of their DevConnect program.  The licensing fee puts third party devices at a serious pricing disadvantage vs. Avaya sold devices - essentially creating a closed platform based on SIP (an open protocol). We kiddingly call the change "The Avaya DevDisconnect" program.  It worries me that other vendors will take the same path - choosing to create significant hurdles that would prevent integration of other third-party devices on their communications applications.  Such a move seems like a 180 degree turn around, heading back to the vertical silos of the last decade.

In a possibly related change, Avaya also pulled the plug on the SIPcenter, squelching a regular and informative venue for information about SIP products and technologies - I hope someone steps forward and fills the gap.

The Ugly

I was once again reminded what life would be like without market competition in a personal billing dispute with DirecTV this summer.  I'm sure you don't want to hear the details, but let's just leave it at "I'll never do business with DirecTV again".  With limited options for television service in rural locations, I can only imagine what would happen if there was no market pressure from competitive satellite provider DishNetwork.  Similarly, I was glad to see that the Justice Department put the brakes on the merger of AT&T and Tmobile - choice and competition is good and the only leverage consumers have over near-monopolies.

A Look Ahead at 2012:

Unified Communications and Peering/Federation - now that UC has hit critical mass, there is significant productivity and cost savings motivation to implement peering or federation between businesses.  The rewards of HD calls, IM, presence and desktop sharing far outweigh the complexity of implementation.  UC Federation has a social "viral" effect that will push businesses to make the jump to UC or be left out.  The productivity change is dramatic, very similar to the broad adoption of inter-company email back in the early 1990's (which was often scorned as too risky and expensive).  Can you imagine doing business without email?  I lived it - it was not fun.

Cloud Communications - watch for one of the big on-line retailers to launch their cloud-based communications suites - targeted at the SMB/SME markets.  A huge boon for the small business owner - a few clicks on a web site will get full UC-enabled communications without the data center infrastructure needed by large businesses and enterprises.

Decline of the Desk Phone - you've heard me flip-flop on this issue a couple times, but until I personally pulled the plug myself this year, I didn't believe people could live without a dedicated desktop device.  After our Lync upgrade and a new DECT wireless headset, I gave my desk phone a good six months to prove that it deserved the square foot of desk space.  At the end of the six months I could count the number of times I used it on one hand.  Back in the box it went.

Economic Recovery - this time for real.  The housing collapse has taken it's toll, the Euro markets will get untangled, and with one less war to fight, we can start to focus on our domestic economic health.  Watch for a tempered, but moderate improvement in the markets, jobs and opinion polls.  This will surely make the 2012 presidential race a close one - a race too close to call this early.

With that, I'd like to also share my appreciation for those of you that take the time to read and respond to "The SIP INVITE".  I look forward to another year and hope you have a safe and happy New Year.

PS: I also don't think the world will come to an end on December 12, 2012 - the Mayan priests underestimate our resilience.

Feedback for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2011

1 Comment

As part of our overall strategy, ShoreTel continues to invest in the open architecture of our core system and in driving value through our Innovation Network program. ShoreTel’s distributed architecture includes an array of open interfaces that seamlessly integrate third-party information and applications.

If anything we are looking to remove hurdles and barriers to integration, and are building interfaces and tools that allow others to extend the capabilities of the ShoreTel system and embed our UC features into customers’ other core business systems. I don’t believe in punishing customers who choose to augment the ShoreTel solution with 3rd party solutions. Having lived through the era of silos I see the value from the vendors perspective in ease. But, ultimately the customer is the one who pays. Our belief is that it should be simple for the customer, which sometimes means we, as manufacturers, need to work harder.

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