Conference Update

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Telecom and UC, VoiP, telephony, or whatever term you choose to describe the convergence, concentration, and diversification of real time communications is indeed in a state of transition, transformation, disruption or whatever term you prefer to use to describe explosion.

There is lots of stuff taking place – partners becoming competitors, technology life cycles condensing, mobility changing everything, social networking consternation, and so on. Plenty of things to blog and write about and I am working on it. More on that later.
But I think there are some clear patterns emerging just from three recent conferences, which I posted at NoJitter.

UC What I See? Provides a view into the recent conferences by NEC, Mitel, and ShoreTel.

What I likey:
NEC: NEC is a big ship that is turning quickly – and I’m not talking about the NEC parent organization with revenues of nearly $40 B, but I am talking about a product portfolio that serves from the very small to very large with everyone in between around the globe.  I’ve been critical of NEC for taking too long to put Sphericall on its front burner, but that is clearly about to change with gusto. NEC has a deep heritage in both telephony and computing – it is evident in Sphericall which will likely complement CIOs strategies broader than UC.
Mitel: Mitel is crystallizing its go to market strategy from just right for anyone to perfect for users with advanced and specific needs around virtualization and mobility. Product focus is on MCD and 5000 though none of the other platforms have been discontinued (yet). I think this focus will help the company and its resellers more clearly communicate Mitel’s value proposition. The big club Mitel has in its bag is the heavy lifting is done, I would expect to see its R&D; commitment to shrink or hold while its marketing and sales efforts increase. This is not the case for many of its competitors. Mitel also has three cloud strategies in play – that’s three more than most of the players coming from CPE voice.
ShoreTel is proving two things: That strong demand remains for VoIP and the complexities associated with UC are likely hurting competitors. ShoreTel has its eye on UC, which is a challenge as its so busy counting sales of VoIP. ShoreTel’s commitment to simplicity makes it easy for channel partners to prospect, sell, implement and support while competitors are still working up the quote.
Things I don’t like:
While the above are specifically attributed to each vendor, what follows is much more broad and based on numerous conversations and observations.

  • The channel is is the big battle ground. UC is too complex for direct sales. UC requires a trusted advisor to pull it all together, and it seems pretty clear that a lot of the pre-existing voice resellers are not going to make the transition.
  • Virtualization is moving from optional to mandatory. I did a separate post on virtualization at UCStrategies here with the point that not all vendors that check this box mean the same thing.
  • Hosted voice and hybrid models are coming, but there is still some confusion around not only what customers may actually need or want, but how they would like to purchase it.

Dave Michels