Seven Unified Communications Trends At VoiceCon
VoiceCon kicks off March 17 in Orlando. But tech vendors are getting a jump on the event with unified communications announcements this week. Here are seven unified communication trends that will emerge at the show, The VAR Guy predicts.
7. Green Themes: Cisco has lined up Al Gore — yes, that Al Gore — to talk about climate change and technology innovation. It’s no secret that Cisco is using TelePresence (the next-gen video conferencing technology) to cut its own corporate travel budget by 20 percent. Now, you can expect Cisco’s messaging for Data Center 3.0 and TelePresence to more closely connect new technologies with reduced carbon footprints.
6. Big Bucks: IBM says it plans to invest $1 billion in unified communications over the next three years. That may sound like marketing hype. But consider this: IBM made similar statements about its Linux investments nearly a decade ago. And open source went on to become a mainstream enterprise option.
5. Hot or Not?: Microsoft and Nortel will talk about the strength of their unified communications partnership, which has led to 600 customer wins. Nice, but Nortel as a corporation remains wounded and is cutting about 2,100 employees. Hopefully, Nortel can remain partner and customer focused amid the staff cuts.
4. Open Options: Yes, open source is converging with unified communications. You already know about Asterisk (see item #1 on this list). But start-ups like Unison are introducing unified software suites that combine IP telephony, email and instant messaging on a Linux server.
3. Pod People: Roughly a year ago, Cisco began demonstrating video “pods” that could be installed in retail stores, etc. The pods resemble small, private offices within a larger retail outlet. The rooms would allow consumers to video conference with doctors, bankers or other professional experts. Cisco never promised to transform the pods into commercial products. But VoiceCon or the upcoming Cisco Partner Summit in Hawaii would be obvious places for the pods to surface again.
2. Noise: Everybody — yes, everybody — is trying to make some noise at VoiceCon. Most of the announcements will be involve traditional networking gear that marketing pros are now trying to position for the unified industry. “It’s not a switch; it’s a unified communications switch. It’s not a smart phone; it’s a unified smart phone.” Treat vendor claims with a heavy dose of skepticism. We’re nearing the top of the unified communications hype cycle.
1. Asterisk: The VAR Guy reported a few days ago that Asterisk, the open source IP PBX, would get a worldwide boost around the time of VoiceCon. He expects Digium, one of Asterisk’s most successful promoters, to announce a worldwide distribution deal at the event.
The VAR Guy will share some more observations during VoiceCon.