2015 is off to a bold start. Here’s a handy guide for some of the drama to watch for this year.
ALU who? With regards to ALUE, most of us fell asleep while its parent worked to unload it. Awoken by a gong! The new management sees an opportunity and signals a willingness to fund it. That’s good because ALUE has some pent up ideas. I think there’s going to be some tremendous activity in 2015 with ALUE – especially overseas, but here too. ALUE is hosting a big event at the end of the month – perhaps a new name? See related post here.
Cisco and Microsoft
2015 will be a big year for the giants. Cisco was quiet last year – until the end. The big news was Project Squared – a Circuitous attempt to reign in communications Slack. The collaboration team at Cisco is undergoing significant change, and its for the positive. The team seems aligned, curious, and energized. I was really impressed with the messaging at their Collaboration Summit last November. There is more focus on design, and much less bravado. The old cisco didn’t have a “second front” on the back of its equipment. I have delightful expectations, and I think there is more to Project Squared than meets the eye.
Microsoft will launch Skype for Business in 2015, and likely continue to improve integration with Skype. I’m very positive on the name change (see related post), and optimistic that the name change also brings Lync more maturity, robustness, and intuitiveness. In addition to the Lync to Skype4B transition is Windows 10 (see related post) including the new Surface Hub (Next generation LRS?). Last year Microsoft indicated Lync Online (Skype4B Online?) will be getting PSTN services in 2015. I tend to like MIcrosoft’s vision, but they have disappointed me on execution (Windows 8, Windows Mobile, Office 365, …). so it is going to boil down to execution and timing.
With both Cisco and Microsoft, I expect channel turbulence in 2015. These clouds are going to create stormy conditions in the channel. .
It’s always interesting when successful companies are not satisfied with leaving things alone. In 2015, we have two entirely new platforms to entertain us from ShoreTel and Interactive Intelligence.
ShoreTel intends to launch its new common platform that will unite its premises and cloud offers. It’s a tricky strategy because the prem business is favored by smaller prem accounts and the cloud side is favored by larger cloud accounts. Plus, the two solutions have different channel strategies. It’s a big bet that has consumed ShoreTel – so much that their CEO completely dropped a personal commitment to me. Despite the distractions of building its future, ShoreTel still managed growth in 2014 including its biggest sale ever. Manhattans and Cosmopolitans are on order – the question is whether it is the teams of Shoretel or its competitors that will be toasting to the new platform. (no link – talk to Joos).
Interactive Intelligence was an “early adapter” to the cloud business. That is the company was early to migrate from product sales to service revenues by hosting its premises architected solutions in private data centers. Its new PureCloud offer is an attempt to re-architect. It was announced last year, and its first “PureCloud” module recently made it to to GA. Many more modules are planned in 2015. The service is designed to bring together mature functionality with unlimited scalability, enterprise grade security, open APIs, and next generation cloud economics. All that and a new CMO could make for an interesting year. (See related post).
It’s going to be a big year at Vidyo as I expect several of its recent efforts to come to a head in 2015. Wainhouse recently recognized Vidyo as one of only two video companies that have nailed embedded workflow. This is likely based on the progress Vidyo made last year in the healthcare and finance verticals. Vidyo also plays nice in UC (Fuze, Mitel) and integrates to Lync. It is poised to bring Mayday-like experiences to customers (using the web, mobile apps, hospital beds, ATMs, and other devices) including UC desktops. Its solution also straddles WebRTC, VP8, VP9, H.264, and H.265. Last week, the company announced a new CEO and CTO, new big wins, and it casually mentioned that its cash flow positive. I smell IPO.
Actually, the whole video space is bursting with color. There’s so much going on. (See related post). I also think 2015 will be a big year for Acano as more people discover they do more than video.
There’s also plenty of excitement stemming from WebRTC. Not only is a standard actually expected, but Microsoft is backing it too. This means lots of new ideas, products, and services are coming – lots. I also expect widespread support of not one but two free codecs, lots of new WebRTC clients from the big UC vendors, and a whole new WebRTC compliant browser from Microsoft. Even I am getting excited about WebRTC now.
Those are the big dramas. Add to this a backdrop of increased sales. 2015 will be a big year for the cloud, UCaaS, and possibly (mysteriously) even premises.
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