The Problem With Unified Communications at VoiceCon
At the big VoiceCon conference in Orlando this week, just about every vendor is evangelizing some sort of “unified communications” solution to attendees. Alas, many of these solutions are nothing more than recycled voice-over-IP offerings backed by new marketing spins. But The VAR Guy sees some hope amid all this unified communications hype.
During a quick check of the news wires this morning, The VAR Guy found more than 70 press releases hyping Unified Communication products tied to VoiceCon. When industry giants like Cisco Systems and Microsoft get behind a term, it’s natural for everybody else to jump on the bandwagon.
But what’s the difference between unified communications and VoIP? Frankly, most customers and quite a few VARs probably couldn’t tell you.
In short, unified communications involves VoIP-enable applications. Examples include:
- A call center running Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications tied to VoIP networks and storage area networks. Caller information is instantly retrieved from the SAN and displayed on a call center screen.
- “Presence” applications that automatically detect your location, and route your calls and messages to the most ideal device (PC, laptop, office phone, home phone, cell phone, etc.) at a given moment. Basically, the caller or message sender doesn’t find you … the network does.
- TelePresence applications that meld video conferencing, voice conferencing, Web presentation and other capabilities together.
- Seamless communication hand-offs between networks and devices. For instance, smart phones that seamlessly roam between cell phones and WiFi networks, or back-end networks that allow you to seamlessly move from a smart phone to a desktop device without interrupting the conversation.
Dozens of additional unified communication applications are reaching market now. But be extra careful of vendor claims. Unified communications is reaching peak hype — which means many of these initial products many not meet customers expectations.
Oh, and speaking of shameless hype and self promotion, here’s The VAR Guy’s own list of seven trends to check out at VoiceCon.