UC, you see

Avaya, BT and Cisco teamed up to explain the benefits of the IBM Unified Communications ecosystem. This is an ecosystem, like so many these days, in which the participants are both collaborators and competitors. They carefully laid out their pitches so that they appeared not to compete too much.

What became clear is that they see IBM’s UC game being played out in the higher and middle reaches of the corporate world at the moment although this might change later. You’ll find some information on SMB offerings, Foundations and Bluehouse, in a recent Information World Review blog.

If you listen to two of the partners, the principal driver for UC, or UC2 (for Unified Communications and Collaboration) as IBM has branded it, is money, in one form or another. While acknowledging the monetary value of UC2, IBM took a slightly different tack which I’ll come to in a moment.

BT dropped a slogan in near the end of its presentation: “we get to the money faster.” Avaya talked of “reducing headcount and costs” on the one hand and “improving efficiency” on the other. Perhaps it was late in the day when we got to Cisco; we didn’t ask and it didn’t say, what the benefits to the customer were. But it talked plenty about market potential – in essence a $500M per annum pot to be shared over the next few years.

So, back to IBM. It made the point that squeezing out costs and improving efficiencies is a done deal. It itemised four challenges facing business today, culled from the bi-annual survey of 765 of its client CEOs. The topmost challenge was innovation. The next challenge was securing and retaining top talent. The third concerned their organisations’ speed and agility and item number four was green business.

Guess what? All four are handily addressed by better communications and collaboration tools. Innovation happens more quickly when communication and collaboration are facilitated (think social computing behind the firewall and between trusted partners). Top talent will be attracted by having the right tools to hand and culture to operate in. Speed and agility are self-evidently improved by removing friction from communication. And, finally, green is enabled by having the tools to work remotely and reduce travel.

Looking at the slides, I sometimes got the feeling that ’green’ or ’GREEN’ in one case, appeared because it is more or less obligatory. It happens to be true that the environment benefits from these technologies, but since the commercial case was already a good one, ’green’ seemed to be a handy, and very welcome, bonus.

So, with that in mind, I’ll leave the last word with Avaya’s Martyn Lambert who, rather poetically, came out with this line with regard to UC adoption:

“It’s driven by cost, enabled by broadband and blessed by green.”


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