UCStrategies Spotlight - April 21, 2010

Updated: April 21, 2010

VoIP on 3G: Do You Really Think You Can Beat the Mobile Operators at their Own Game?

By Michael Finneran

I've gotten a number of inquiries of late regarding the potential of VoIP over 3G or 4G mobile data networks as an alternative to traditional cellular voice services and a vehicle for mobile UC. This idea has been making the rounds for some years, and the basic hope is that with a VoIP client on a mobile device, we could forego a traditional cellular voice plan, buy an "unlimited" wireless data plan and beat the mobile operators at their own game. In essence, with the development of higher speed wireless data services, the mobile operators could be hoisted on their own petard.

I'll get to the technical challenges involved in that in a moment, but let's be clear at the outset: I am not the least bit optimistic about such an outcome in the near term. Do you honestly think that the mobile operators haven't thought of this? These guys are running a very profitable business that takes in over $150 billion in annual revenues in the US alone, and it is quite clear that "charity" is not one of their core corporate goals. It's their game, their ball, and their rules- you lose. Period...

The Complex Landscape of Enterprise Video

By David Yedwab

Earlier this week, Cisco closed its $3+Billion acquisition of Tandberg. This acquisition, announced last year, as part of Cisco's expanding emphasis on video as the future of communications networking certainly is "putting your money where your mouth is." But that's not all that's happening in enterprise video and the effects of video in the UC&C space are really just beginning to be felt.

For example, at last month's (last) VoiceCon, Video solutions from multiple vendors and service providers were everywhere on the show floor - prompting some to say that the show's new name should have been "VideoCon," instead of "Enterprise Connect." I observed, and probably missed a few, greater than a dozen booths with some video on exhibit - ranging from ultra-high end Telepresence to high-quality desktop/PC-video - with many flavors in between. And the current Iceland volcano stranding travelers into and out of Europe may provide even greater impetus to explore video options. Why, just today I've communicated with four people stranded somewhere in the world by this unusual natural disaster.

So, how should an enterprise determine how, where and when to add video to its UC&C strategy? The simple answer is that there is often a place for video inside an enterprise or for inter-enterprise (to/from partners, supply-chain and customers). Among the determinants are the degree of geographical distribution of the communication and the amount for which "a picture is worth a thousand words" applies - when the communication can be enhanced enough - by video - to make the incremental expense worth the required investment - except the high-end - Telepresence - the equation is actually the reverse -- avoiding travel cost and time and being almost as effective as face-to-face...

Universal Customized Proactive Customer Service Using UC

By Michael Barbagallo

Most every enterprise needs a proactive customer service strategy. Customers are hard to come by in this economic environment so companies need to keep their existing customer happy. Corporate proactive customer service plans needs to provide targeted information to individuals and at the same time provide information to a large number of customers. Enterprises are beginning to see the benefits of proactive customer service and many think they are breaking new ground by reaching out to customers. However, long before proactive customer service was part of the business lexicon, schools and school systems created communication plans that targeted individual parents and provided information to an entire population.

In a past life, I was a high school math teacher and in that brief time, my peers and the school administration stressed the importance to be in constant contact with the parents and especially the parent of students who were having difficulty in my class. This was long before social networks, before unified communications, instant messaging, and even before email. My communication tools were the telephone (primary) and the US post office. I learned that different situations required different tools...

Cloud Communications Alliance - Good News for UC

By Jon Arnold

Today marks the official launch of the Cloud Communications Alliance, and I've chosen to post this news here on the UC Strategies portal because I think it bodes particularly well for the UC space. I've been following cloud communications pretty closely lately, and having been briefed on CCA in advance of most people, this may well be the first you hear about their news anywhere.

Every market evolves in its own way, and the time is simply right now for the CCA. Lately, we've all been getting a variety of cloud-related announcements, and it's getting hard to tell how much of the buzz is real. A big part of the problem is language and the lack of clarity around terms like "hosted," "cloud," "services" and "communications." In some cases, the services haven't changed much, and what used to be called hosted is now called cloud. In others, however, the services are new, and are very much Web-based and of the cloud. While many of us are living with these terms every day, it must be very confusing for businesses to make sense of all this, let alone make the right decision for their communications and IT requirements...

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