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UC is Here to Stay - 'This Time for Real,' says ITEXPO Presenter
By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor
Unified Communication (UC) is one of the hottest topics in the tech world today and, as such, will be a major point of emphasis at ITEXPO East 2012, set to kick off on Feb. 1 in Miami.
To give attendees a window into what they'll hear at this year's show, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) reached out to Alan Percy, Senior Director of Strategic Marketing at VoIP communications specialist at AudioCodes, to talk about the current market for UC and all things technology.
Percy says that UC has made a real breakthrough in the last 12 months, migrating from a niche technology to a near must-have for today's enterprises. The rising adoption rates of UC technologies can be attributed to several factors, says Percy, including ubiquitous Internet access, the need for mobility and an increased aversion to business travel, to name a few.
The one challenge that enterprises are facing, however, is bringing UC to mobile employees. This is an area where AudioCodes can provide great value, says Percy, who will be on the floor at ITEXPO showing off the company's full portfolio of solutions, including its MobilityPLUS in the Lync product.
Percy also gave some interesting advice for businesses that are considering a social media campaign, noting that it is a great way to communicate with customers and prospects in near real-time, but only if you are willing to devote significant time and resources to various social media platforms.
Tehrani and Percy touched on a number of other hot topics in the tech space, including the impact the cloud is having on the communications world and Microsoft's prospects of taking on Android and Apple in the mobile OS market. He also offered a big prediction for 2012.
Check out the full interview below or head to booth 607 at ITEXPO East 2012 to hear more from AudioCodes.
What was the most significant technological advancement in the past 12 months and why?
From our experiences here at AudioCodes, the past 12 months have shown that Unified Communications is here – this time for real. Unlike some of the false starts over the last five years, a number of key stumbling blocks have been resolved. UC Technology has reached a reasonable level of maturity. The aging equipment upgraded or bought for Y2K is finally amortized. The economy is still in a funk, but it has stabilized. The pressure for employee productivity remains high. WiFi (News - Alert) and Internet access is almost ubiquitous. Fuel prices have remained high, putting a greater focus on the need for mobility and an aversion to costly commuting. As a result, roughly 80 percent of businesses are exploring, planning or executing their Unified Communications migration (based on a 2011 market survey by Nemertes).
What has been the biggest trend in your market segment and how is it impacting your customers?
Enterprise mobility clearly is one of the most significant trends – moving applications from the desktop or laptop computer and moving them to the handheld smartphone. This includes Unified Communications as demonstrated by the new array of new applications on the market, including the AudioCodes MobilityPLUS app that we’re demonstrating in the Lync Solution Pavilion on the Expo Floor. By bringing status updates, presence, chat and voice to the smartphone, mobile workers are more productive as they roam within and outside their businesses.
What is the biggest challenge facing your customers today and how is your company helping address that challenge?
A challenge for many of our customers is developing a plan for their organization to make the leap to Unified Communications and adopt a mobility strategy. We see this as an educational challenge that we’re addressing with a number of regional seminars and our recently announced “UC Migration with Microsoft Lync” webinar series. To learn about the series, visit: www.audiocodes.com/uc-migration-series
How has the cloud impacted your business? How has it impacted your customers?
Hosted or cloud-based applications have increased interest in our larger media gateways and E-SBCs for use in the datacenter, providing PSTN access. Many cloud applications also need customer premise equipment (CPE) like our Mediant 800 MSBG that acts as the point of demarcation between the cloud-based service and the equipment at the customer’s site.
In some segments of the market, we do expect some of the SMB/SME market to move off their PBX/KSU equipment and to cloud-based offerings. It’s easy to envision Google, Yahoo and others offering small businesses UC offerings that are “click to order,” with a box of the right equipment and instructions for self installation arriving.
Maintenance and management would be done via a portal, allowing additions/moves/changes via the web. AudioCodes plans to be part of this offering with our MSBGs and IP Phone (News - Alert) offerings, most notably the MP-252, a complete residential or home/office solution that includes a DECT wireless phone, analog ports and WiFi. (For more details see: http://www.audiocodes.com/mp252 )
What approach has your business taken to social media? If you have implemented a social media program, have you been able to evaluate your program’s success?
AudioCodes launched our social media efforts early last year, proceeding carefully to make sure we got started on the right foot. So far we’ve found the participation in select LinkedIn groups, Twitter and our YouTube (News - Alert) channel to be valuable assets, helping to spread our marketing messages and better communicate with our customers. We’ve found it especially helpful as a replacement to the old-fashion email newsletter, making the information more current, fresh and an opportunity to hear feedback/comments in almost real-time. This does come with some management and frankly, the effort to participate daily comes at a cost in time that we (and others) underestimated.
Does every business need a social media presence? Why or why not?
I would imagine that at this point virtually all businesses that are actively marketing products or recruiting staff would need some social media presence. However, social media are not a good place for “stealth” endeavors, where privacy and security is important. Getting on social media is like letting the genie out of the bottle; once the message gets out there, it’s really hard to turn back.
With Microsoft touting tight integration between its mobile and desktop OS, can it become a major competitor in the enterprise mobile market?
One thing we’ve learned over all these years is to never underestimate Microsoft. When the folks in Redmond want something, they eventually get it. Whether Microsoft can take a serious bite of the mobile client Apple is to be seen. No one will dispute that their first couple attempts were “learning opportunities."
What can attendees expect from your company at ITEXPO?
AudioCodes is featuring five different solution sets: Unified Communications/Lync, SIP Trunking, Contact Center solutions, Mobility and Call Recording/Logging. In addition to our traditional gateway and E-SBC offerings, we’re looking forward to raising the visibility of MobilityPLUS, our mobility application for Microsoft Lync and BroadSoft Broadworks. We’ll have a working demo of MobilityPLUS in the Lync Solutions Pavilion (booth 806).
Make one technology prediction for 2012 and consider its impact.
Watch the emergence of enterprise peering (also called “federation”), allowing businesses to connect their UC platforms over the Internet. Doing so allows businesses to share documents, presence, instant messaging, voice and video communications, creating a far more efficient and richer communications conduit. We’ve already started to see some evidence that peering is spreading virally, initially with our closest partners, but increasingly with end-customers and suppliers.
Peering not only improves the communications between the parties, it also reduces costs, moving the voice/video traffic to the Internet and off per-minute TDM or SIP Trunks. One can envision the eventually obsolescence of “trunking” for B2B interactions.
AUDIOCODES is a PLATINUM sponsor of ITEXPO East 2012. To be held Jan. 31- Feb. 3 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Fla. ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit AUDIOCODES in booth #806E or 607. For more information on ITEXPO registration click here.Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… Follow us on Twitter.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves