Summing up the UC Summit

8 May 2010

At the UCStrategies UC Summit held recently in beautiful La Jolla, CA, resellers and system integrators (now known as "Solution Integrators"), end-user consultants, and a handful of vendors had a chance to learn from each other about how to succeed in Unified Communications. I had a chance to be on the locknote panel to discuss what I thought were the highlights of the conference. Here are my key takeaways, in no particular order:

  • Communication Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) or business process integration is what it's all about. UCStrategies has been saying this since the beginning (hence our definition of UC - "Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes) and this message is clearly starting to resonate. My favorite quote from the conference was Bill Vollerthum of Enabling Technologies, who called CEBP "the gift that keeps on giving." CEBP provides a way for Solution Integrators to add more value to their vendors' products, while increasing revenues and margins.
  • It's not just about the big guys - I moderated a panel with vendors that aren't as well known to many of the Solution Integrators and Consultants as our keynote speakers (Avaya, Cisco, IBM, NEC), and our attendees realized that there are many players that provide complementary offerings that are important parts of UC solutions. The panelists, including representatives from Aastra, AVST, Interactive Intelligence, Siemens, and Verint, in addition to other vendors represented at the Summit, such as NET and Acme Packet, represent alternatives to the "usual suspects."
  • UC requires a consultative selling approach, rather than the traditional "box selling" model, but many Solution Integrators need additional skills and training to do this properly. Vendors need to step up and help their channel partners get the skills needed to understand how UC fits into a customer's environment and business processes, as well as what other technologies and solutions may be required, and how to solve interoperability issues. Several attendees commented on the fact that their companies have been successful selling switches, but their sales people don't know how to move to the next step to sell UC solutions.
  • Many Solution Integrators specialize in voice solutions or data solutions, and need to partner with other Solution Integrators that have the skills and expertise they lack.
  • It's become clear that no one vendor provides all the products and technologies needed for a UC solution, and interoperability is needed. Solution Integrators need to work with a variety of vendors and ensure that their products work together seamlessly, which can be very challenging.
  • It's difficult, yet important, to bring the line of business people to the table when planning for UC solutions. Solution Integrators realize that while the IT and telecom managers are key decision makers, the line of business managers are equally important and need to be involved in the entire sales process.
  • More marketing and education is required to drive end user demand for UC solutions. While most IT and telecom managers are somewhat knowledgeable about UC, they are not necessarily going to drive adoption of UC. Line of business users are the ones who will most benefit from UC, but in most cases are unfamiliar with UC and how it can impact their businesses.
  • There is a huge need for end user training. Resellers need more tools from vendors on making the transition from box or product selling to solution and application selling.
  • Many Solution Integrators noted that while they were able to sell UC solutions to enterprise customers, end user adoption of UC within many organizations is still lacking. End user training is required to educate users about how to use the many features and capabilities of UC products.

What became clear is that there are still as many unanswered questions as there are answered ones. The bottom line is that discussions between vendors, Solution Integrators, and consultants need to continue, and events such as the UC Summit are more important than ever.


There are currently no comments on this article.

You must be a registered user to make comments