February 02, 2009
Leveraging Legacy Equipment: an Emerging Theme at ITEXPO
By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor
ITEXPO (News - Alert), MIAMI BEACH – Most of the people attending the so-called “UC Shootout” – more than 200 IT and telecom professionals, jammed into a Miami Beach Conference Center room on the first day of the three-day Internet Telephony Conference & Expo – already think of the following technologies as integrated under the single heading “unified communications”: fixed and mobile voice, e-mail, instant messaging, desktop and advanced business applications, IP-PBX (News - Alert), VoIP, telepresence, voicemail, fax, audio video and Web conferencing.
Platforms and solutions that offer those kinds of communications technologies in a single package have been around for a long time.
But with the challenges facing businesses that are trying to navigate this slower economy, experts say that UC providers must offer more than straightforward solutions.
“The challenge today is: How do you get more out of what you already have?” Nick Matejuk (News - Alert), vice president of business development and strategic alliances at Objectworld Communications said during the “shootout” – an event, moderated by TMC’s (News - Alert) Greg Galitzine, where Matejuk and five others had six minutes on stage to pitch their UC products. “The days of ‘rip and replace’ are gone.”
Though this ITEXPO is young, the sentiment Matejuk expressed is emerging as one of its recurring themes. Two floors below, for example, as visitors enter the ITEXPO’s crowded show floor, they immediately come face-to-face with an IP-PBX solution from Citel that allows businesses to reuse legacy digital PBX phones. The company’s so-called “Citel Communication Manager 200” – or “CCM-200” – is one of dozens of products and solutions that are debuting at the ITEXPO.
Just this morning, as TMCnet reported, in the annual event’s opening session, an IT professional talked about the desperate need for nonprofit agencies to streamline communications while preserving the legacy equipment or partial UC integration projects they already have underway.
Yet during the “shootout” – which featured Matejuk as well as Rich Chin of Interactive Intelligence, Jon Doyle (News - Alert), vice president of business development at CommuniGate Systems, Serge Hyppolite, director of product management for Aspect Software, and Tony Rybczynski, director of strategic technologies at Nortel – telecom leaders talked about how rare it is, despite how common UC solutions are – to find a complete product.
“Unified communications is talked about a lot, but it’s very rare that you rare that find a complete solution,” Doyle said before launching into a video that featured his company’s “Pronto!” solution. “What I mean is that you find bits and pieces of unified communications.”
That can cost companies more money than it saves them, according to Hyppolite.
He said that one of the key reasons why providers are looking at UC is that their customers are driving them – asking for capabilities such as rapid access and first-call resolution.
“If you look at what businesses are struggling with today, all of us, are struggling with the increasingly difficult economy, and how do you drive more efficiency in your business?” Hyppolite said. “How do you drive more productivity in your business? Unified communications can give you a big differentiator in enabling you to do that. But we believe that UC done the right way will do that. UC done by the old integration model will just add to your costs.”
There’s probably only one good way to judge whether Hyppolite and the others are right about their own UC solutions – visit their booths here at ITEXPO.
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan