UC Lies and Damn Lies

by Dave Michels

study by the University of Massachusetts found that 60 percent of adults could not have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once. The same study found that 40 percent of people lie on their résumés and a whopping 90 percent of those looking for a date online lie on their profiles.The study did not investigate the number of lies told by UC professionals, but every industry is filled with lies. Here’s a few big ones in UC:

With this new meeting collaboration service, meetings will start on time.
Also helps with being younger and more attractive. What people forget is it was also hard to start a meeting on-time when everyone was in the same building. I used to lure on-time attendance with ice cream treats (disposing the unclaimed on the hour). Unfortunately, I have not found a virtual replacement yet.

Your call is important to us
If this were true, someone would be saying it directly to me, not a recording. The announcement should say, “we value your money, and we are confident we will get it or already got it, so please hold.”

Soft Phones are cheaper than hard phones
The initial cost of softphones are indeed less than hardphones, but the long term costs are not as clear cut. Soft phones, like all software, tends to require maintenance plans and upgrades. Also, softphones work best with headsets which also have an initial cost, don’t last long, and don’t transfer to other employees well (like hard phones do). Related lie: Softphones will replace hard phones.

Intuitive communications reduces training and increases adoption
Without question, the more intuitive the better. The suspicion lies in how this line is used on every generation of the technology. For example, online meetings were simple with an intuitive app, then they became simple and intuitive with a link. Last March, meetings finally became simple and intuitive with ultrasound pairing on an iDevice. Can’t wait to hear how collaboration will become simple and intuitive next year.

The industry will be all cloud
Cloud will continue to dominate UC growth over the next decade – however, this industry never goes all anything. FAX continues to thrive, and FAX has been dead for a decade. But it’s also important to consider that premises-based solutions can be much less expensive in stable deployments. There’s lots of drivers from the NSA to ‘the way my Dad did it,’ so don’t assume premises is dead or even dying.

A telepresence experience on a mobile device
Many mobile devices support HD video communications. If only telepresence, or HD video collaboration was so simple. High quality video conferencing involves large screens for video and content sharing. Video streams without camera shake, reliable bandwidth, and high quality audio. If Barnum were alive today, he’d be hawking pocketable telepresence solutions.

Real businesses don’t use Skype
Pre MS, Skype was trying to expand its business marketing. Now, Microsoft presents Skype strictly as a consumer service. Despite these marketing efforts, Skype can be found in enterprises far and wide – and it does get used for business communications.

We are open and standards based
Technically rarely a lie, but included because it’s frequently flaunted as a feature. Most UC solutions are open and standards based – yet plagued with interoperability issues. Unfortunately, this marketing claim is largely meaningless..

We are a software company
This is a popular claim because software is where the action is. While hardware isn’t sexy, it is profitable. My favorite is virtualized pods that come preinstalled on dedicated servers. There isn’t a “software only” company in UC. Most UC vendors are still making very good margins on their hardware. Microsoft is not the exception: It makes revenue on IP phones that it designed and licensed to partners. Also, hardware (keyboards and mice) is among its most profitable divisions.

Video calls will someday replace audio calls
There will always be a place for audio calls. Note: Star Trek uses video for important communications of all kinds, but the trusty communicator is (mostly) audio only. Video takes more effort, more concentration, more focus, more bandwidth, and more preparation. Audio is simple, quick, and cheap. There’s a time and place for both.

Increase [productivity/satisfaction/sales/responsiveness] and never miss an important call again.
We all hate missing that big important calls, so any solution promising to eliminate them is worth a look. It’s a powerful claim that has worked with voicemail, call forwarding, simultaneous ring, call waiting, presence/IM, and SMS. What’s really needed is a technology that increases the frequency of those important calls.

The Magic Quadrant (and other analyst reports) clearly shows which firms are best
I do like the Gartner’s MQ, but analyst reports are a bit like movie reviews – a bit a subjective and in the end only an opinion (though some opinions are more informed than others). The thing to remember is the MQ looks at companies (not products) globally. What is the best specific product, in specific regions, based on installed solutions and specific objectives is a whole different question that MQ makes no attempt to answer.

Cisco didn’t abandon SMB
SMB is a slippery term. At one time, Cisco was catering to very Smb, but since it discontinued the UC520, UC540, UC300, UC560, CBE3000, and CBE5000 last fall it shifted to sMb. No migration product was offered, and the suggested SMB solution today is the BE6000 which starts around $10k (+ licensing).

Premises-based solutions are cheaper
This is increasingly a lie and propagated by myths around ROI models which generally ignore risk and consumption. ROI comparisons also like to pretend that the resulting solution (premises vs. hosted) are more or less equal and only compare costs. There is no universal answer to this question, but most comparisons accidentally favor premises-based solutions.

Google is focused on the Enterprise
Google could certainly be a major enterprise UC vendor it it wanted to be. Google offers many great services, and provides the most viable alternative to Microsoft Office. Google Apps has made impressive inroads with education and government. It’s business solutions are largely consumer services that were simply re-purposed. The enterprise market requires more deliberate effort. There are few examples of an enterprise commitment.

Market share reports confirm…
Market share in UC is both inherently rear-view and highly subjective. It’s not like the old days where phones and ports were easy to count. Software licenses are more likely to get purchased/bundled without implementation. Also, multi-vendor solutions are extremely hard to count. For example, is a Google Apps user (presence, video, and doc collaboration), with Google Voice (single number reach, mobile client, UM) combined with a TDM voice solution a UC customer? UC market share reports are consistently inaccurate, so provide information on trends – just not reality.