Unified Communications Summit 2010 - La Jolla, California

Notes from the Unified Communications Summit conference April 27 - April 30, 2010

Held at the exquisite Estancia Resort in La Jolla, California amongst some of the most beautiful landscaping my wife and I have ever seen, the Unified Communications Summit which occurred the week of April 26th was a very well planned and strategic business event hosted by UC strategies and sponsored by the likes of Avaya, Cisco, IBM, NET, and others. Unlike the VoiceCon event held three times a year (twice in the US) where massive technology demonstrations, technical data sheets exchanged, and device overviews provided, UC Summit was a breath of fresh air having its focus on actual strategic discussions by leading vendors in the Unified Communications marketplace.Richard McLeod kicked the event off from Cisco with a keynote speech related to Cisco’s Unified Communications strategies and highlighted discussions around the Tandberg acquisition, advances with Cisco WebEx, and a faint glimpse of some kind of CEBP (Communications Enabled Business Processes) strategy. Next up to bat was Bruce Morse from IBM, who actually provided a very inspiring overview of IBM’s commitment to Unified Communications technology moreso on the side of CEBP and integration solutions with slides that were comparable to previous Microsoft presentations I have given. It was a good feeling to see that what I had predicted years ago and in both of my published books that IBM will be a front runner in contention with Microsoft for the UC crown. With overviews of improvements to the Sametime platform, advancements in conferencing technology and a focus on applications and integration with WebSphere, IBM came with a ton of arsenal. Due to a massive re-org at Microsoft, Eric Swift was unable to make the event nor did Microsoft provide a backup speaker to their detriment to the event, but not to their strategy of course. Everyone realizes that Microsoft is the provider to compete with in this space and this being their second “semi/no-show event” it’s understandable that this could have even been yet another joust to the existing telecommunications providers in this marketplace with a sense of hidden agenda. Nevertheless, Laura Neidel, one of Microsoft’s UC Channel Directors provided a panel speech with respect to the investments Microsoft is making to the UC marketplace with a note that massive marketing and commitment to follow with the Wave 14/UC 2010 release this fall. To be honest though, the most surprising and refreshing speech that was made at the event was by Avaya by Brett Shockley. Even with the financial hurdles, changes in technological direction, and the recent acquisition of Nortel, Avaya has certainly surprised me as the Apple iPad, iPhone, and Mac platform has surprised me as a viable enterprise solution. To me, a truly successful Unified Communications platform must be CEBP focused. The solution must have the 5 9’s that the industry demands and the bullet list of telecommunications features that corporations are used to seeing, but Unified Communications in my mind is another label for Enhanced Telephony if the solution does not contain a focus, a strategy, and a development ecosystem surrounding it. To that measure, Brett provided a very eloquent and fresh presentation focusing on CEBP, application integration with Avaya Aura, and Apple and Windows applications. Avaya’s best bet will be to align with a Visual Studio.NET, Java, Open Source SIP, Apple Developer ecosystem to truly execute on this vision. It will be very interesting to see what Avaya does in this area by way of integration and possible acquisition to fulfill this vision. I also sat on a panel to speak at the event as well representing the only area of Unified Communications actually providing a (ROI) Return on Investment. I spoke about the value of a CEBP platform, the components of a successful Unified Communications strategy and what the channel, reseller market, providers, and customers can do now to take advantage of these solutions. The main point of my speech which was actually re-iterated and referenced in Microsoft’s and my colleague’s Bill Vollerthum of Enabling Technologies and Talbot Harty of NET, was that in order to see ROI in a Unified Communications solution, the solution has to have a CEBP strategy from the foundation through to line of business and utility application integration. If it doesn’t, there is no need for a customer to upgrade away from their current PBX. CEBP applications provide ROI for a UC upgrade almost instantaneously by replacing exising lines of business applications for communications and collaboration processes that are unique to the customer, what sets that customer apart from its competitors. I will blog about this subject next, but wanted to touch lightly on it.

CEBP Architecture

Many thanks to the UC Strategies team for hosting this event as I felt it was a better investment than the other events I have attended and the event really provided a business focus and I would encourage executives from all companies who are wanting to learn more about Unified Communications technology and business strategy to attend the next event or at least view the content online via http://www.ucstrategies.com. Many thanks again Jim and Pam! La Jolla was absolutely incredible!

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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