September 15, 2010
ITEXPO Speaker Discusses the Democratization of Communication Capabilities
By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Web Editor
For businesses to stay competitive in this day and age they need to be able to reach their customers through a variety of different mediums, including video messaging, social networking and mobile conferencing. Companies that fail to take advantage of the innovative communication outlets that are available may struggle in today’s economy.
Bill Verthein, Group Program Manager of Office Communicator Devices for Microsoft, recently spoke to TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) about how new tools and software can help revolutionize the way that companies communicate with current and prospective customers.
During the interview, Verthein also conveyed his thoughts on the future of wireless networking in the enterprise market and the viability of mobile video chat. He also offers readers a sneak peek into his upcoming presentation at ITEXPO West 2010, which kicks off on October 4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The complete interview can be found below.
What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?
The democratization of communication capabilities. Everything from communications inside of Facebook and Google Mail to free video calling around the world with Windows Live Messenger and Skype (News - Alert). More powerful communications capabilities are coming into the hands of users, and certainly bringing them into the enterprise. Business leaders need to understand how these powerful new communications tools can work with the software used today to transform business processes and deliver lasting business value.
What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?
Standards-based interoperability between the products that are already in the market.
When will unified communications go mainstream?
When customers who have already deployed unified communications gain significant strategic advantage from their early adoption and the majority of the market moves to remain competitive.
Who will win the smartphone wars? Tablet wars?
While it’s convenient for the press to characterize this as a “war”, in reality it’s a natural market evolution. Once a winner is proclaimed, the definitions will change again.
Has social media changed how you communicate with customers?
Absolutely. We can have a much more personal, relevant and consistent conversation with our customers, partners, stakeholders, etc.
Nearly every phone manufacturer is now incorporating support for wideband codecs. Will we finally see widespread HD voice deployments in 2011?
New deployments will largely be of HD Audio, but existing phones will remain on the desk. HD voice isn’t enough to purchase a new instrument, but in combination with a truly unified communications system, new instruments do much more than just vanilla phones – integrating with calendaring, presence, contacts, etc., - those phones will certainly have HD Audio, although it will be far down the list of reasons to upgrade.
What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?
While great for demos, it’s extremely impractical in the real world without significant changes in the technology, regulation and pricing of mobile data.
Each will claim complete success, using different sets of metrics.
Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Depends on the enterprise and their strategic goals for the business. For example, if the business continues to operate in a way where people sit in fixed places, doing IW work, there’s no real reason to upset the existing network. When organizations look to expand or change their physical workspaces, many are finding that touchdown spaces with increased wireless density have significant benefits from a cost and employee satisfaction perspective.
What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?
It’s been completely transformative. Everything we do has direct applicability to the cloud.
What do you think of the net neutrality debate?
Microsoft believes that the free flow of services and data benefits all users and companies.
What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?
Video phones. With $100 HD cameras at Best Buy (News - Alert) for your desktop and laptops adding decent cameras and audio, who needs a $600 phone when a $600 laptop gives a better video experience and handles the rest of your workload as well?
Interop and integration strategies for unified communication.
What will attendees take away from your session?
That Microsoft is committed to making interop work for our customers. Microsoft believes that robust and open interop will grow the overall market to everyone’s benefit.
Please make a bold technology prediction for 2011.
Microsoft believes in 2011 we will begin to see a visible shift away from IP phones and toward PC resident video and telephony.
To find out more about Bill Verthein and Microsoft, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2010. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Don’t wait. Register now.
Beecher Tuttle is a Web Editor for TMCnet. 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.