What the Studies About UC Say

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

What the Studies About UC Say

WOW! In a study of 1,000 businesses by Evolve IP, "71.5% were not very familiar with what "Unified Communications" actually is". You can scratch that off your SEO key word list right now.

The stat that "40 percent of participants are already using elements of a Unified Communications (UC) solution" is misleading because UC is a garbage term for many components of voice, video and comms. And if 71.5% didn't understand the term....

"The biggest thing that's lacking is the strategy surrounding Unified Communications." I see how that happens from a deployment of UC standpoint and from a product management standpoint. Most deployments of UC stink. (Software deployments overall stink to the tune of about 70% suck.) UC is software. We just don't really scope it out like we should. We just deploy.

From the product management side of it, we let features get in the way of functionality. It isn't about the features; it is about the ease of use. In many cases, the UC platform deployed is going to have more features than most need or understand; there won't be much training; and the system is neither intuitive nor easy to use. Case in point, the phone. Employees have been the same phone for 5-15 years. Then they get a new handset from the ITSP - usually a Polycom but it could be snom, Yealink, Cisco, et al - which is entirely foreign to them. The buttons aren't labeled. There's no index card guide for fast reference on call transfer or what-have-you. Lost productivity and frustration results. That wasn't the outcome we were shooting for.

The studies keep coming along with the forecasts. Coredial says it is an $88 Billion opportunity with much of it unrealized as of yet. Markets and Markets Research predicts the cloud UC market to grow to nearly $25 billion in 2020.

It is a hyper-competitive space that has not had many declared winners. Yet.

Key vendors listed over and over include Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, and Avaya. No idea why HP is included but not Dell or Google. Also, a bunch of ITSP and Duopoly players missing from that mix.

Edgewater Networks did a survey of 1,250 SMBs on VoIP adoption. More good news for the 2000+ Hosted VoIP providers, only 36% penetration even with over 250 seats. "Below 20 seats, we're talking under 20 percent. The great majority, however, declare intention to convert within two years." [channel partners]

I am saying Hosted VoIP here because most of the VoIP sold is POTS-and-PRI replacement SIP trunks. And even that runs into a wall when you consider that many of the TDM lines left standing are for faxes, elevators and alarms. Also, building codes have not changed to reflect a the TDM-to-IP transition. Many buildings still require flash-hook type dial-tone. So some of the penetration is stymied by the lack of fax support. Hard to believe.

"Gartner considers the large enterprise UC market to be mature, though product capabilities, market focus and vendor strengths vary. As a result, enterprises should carefully match their own priorities to vendor strengths before committing to a solution," as reported on UCStrategies. Enterprise isn't where most UC providers play. Don't get me wrong, they would like to, but that business typically goes to a name brand.

I harp on this all the time, so it is nice to see another person mention it: " the challenge remains, as always, to provide some real business or organizational value. Vendors and their sales and implementation teams now need to present and support solid business justifications for purchases and actual customer deployments of UC solutions."**

One reason why the Enterprise is prized is that they usually get more than one package. "Also, many of the vendor's products, such as Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's OpenTouch Suite or IBM's Sametime, can be deployed as overlays or integrations with other vendors' telephony switches. On the other hand, the UC&C world is waiting for either Microsoft or Cisco to really get a grip and provide great interoperation between Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business and Cisco Collaboration/Unified Communications Manager. Vendors who remove the costs and risks of integrations will likely see gains in their UC revenues." [**UCStrategies]

Personally, I couldn't care less about magic quad or any other list of supposed awesomeness. Revenues talk. The rest is for sale.

At the Enterprise level, they already have a culture around Microsoft and Cisco, a culture born from certifications. You won't get fired for buying Cisco, MS or IBM. However, under 500 seats (the full SBA defined SMB space), where the largest number of businesses lie, they just need a few things:

One, someone to come explain what this technology can do for them.

Two, a story about a similar business and what the technology did for their business.

Three, a reference account that will tell the story about how the deployment went and what post-sales is like.

Finally, you need someone to go knock on doors, get out to network, be a brand ambassador and get your name out about what you do for SMB and why. That is your sales and your marketing.

Now you could go the other way and build an impressive lead gen marketing campaign. That is a good way to go as well as I wrote yesterday. Also as I wrote yesterday, you need to refine the product and the message as you get feedback from the users.

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