Can There Finally Be a “New UCC Mindset?”

IC16 UCC

To refresh the memories, when entering the UCC Pavilion at InfoComm 2016 this is what you were witness to:

  • Videoconferencing and telepresence systems
  • Remote worker / teleworker technologies
  • Cloud services
  • Unified communications and collaboration technologies
  • Networked interactive whiteboards
  • Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) providers
  • Videoconferencing as a service (VCaaS) providers
  • Managed services providers
  • Collaboration system integrators ICT service providers

A couple of weeks back I was invited to be a part of a Cisco Collaboration Twitter hashtag conversation #CiscoChat, concerning the power of video for business (mid-size in this case). Here were two of my contributions:

First I’d like to thank Cisco Collaboration for the invite to be a part of this excellent hashtag chat session, and it even generated some thought for me as I prepared to head to InfoComm 2016 – can there finally be a new UCC mindset forming?

That C word

UCC, or let’s just target the second c – collaboration – has been a part of AV industry speak for a few years now to the point where the term has almost bottomed out in terms of any particular definition, other than solutions you can use to collaborate, whatever that exactly is at this point. I saw a great one from a manufacturer who decided not to show up at InfoComm, whose first tip to building a top collaboration environment was – yes – implement a collaboration strategy. Brilliant, and maybe no wonder the no-show.

Now I have to admit that when I say the word it even sounds a bit murky coming out of my mouth, but then again it’s likely that instances resembling this that I read and hear about actually make me at times lose perspective of what collaboration truly is. Is it about a box? Software? The Cloud? Devices (BYOD…)? The people involved? The culture? One really needs to dig deep to have it all honestly make sense, and not just tell the commercial enterprise end user “I have a great collaboration solution for you.” I’d say I’m sorry get in line, ten of your competitors just told me the same thing last week.

Let’s not forget the enterprise end user in all of this as well as they also need to clearly define their needs in terms of collaborative goals within the organization. Looking back at my Twitter post above, it is time for the enterprise to recognize the need for video collaboration once and for all, call it video conferencing if you may however as pointed out, those who do not start to leverage the technology soon will be left in the proverbial dust. Again – is it a box, Cloud, software, devices, etc.? The industry consultants and integrators are the knowledge-base here and must paint the picture in terms of just what’s available in terms of any client’s targeted needs. The manufacturers present the solutions at the show (and beyond), they will meet with end user attendees who will show interest, however it is of the essence that industry people who propose, sell and integrate those solutions make the decisions of what to provide and maybe consider their targeted market segments as well, and then get on top of the technologies – if it is part of their current or near future business plan.

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To get back to the “c” word, walk the aisles of the InfoComm show floor, look and listen around you and if you don’t see and hear more than your share of the word then you must have walked into the wrong trade show. I’ve read reviews of the show where I actually lost count of the times the word was used, in some cases even more than three times in a paragraph. Is there another term which can possibly be inserted here as well?

  • teamwork
  • group participation
  • joint efforts (?)

Stick technology, technological or another such term in there and maybe we have something here. Or maybe it’s not just about the technology?

Video collaboration – it’s time (no question mark)

As we know there are may options for the commercial market in this whole wide UCC world of varying video collaboration solutions providers. You have those that specialize in Cloud (SaaS), Cloud video enablement, Virtualized infrastructure and yes, still hardware however I and numerous others believe that will never just go away, although there will be a diminishing point with significantly less presence at the show vs. cloud and software solutions.

If you’re not looking at solutions from any of these providers outside of the hardware room system installation norm, you are already falling behind in the game – the one that’s being changed and ramped up regularly. Logitech Video Collaboration for one has become a very interesting player in the environment (a first trip to the show) with their strategic video collaboration partner environment. I’m also very impressed with Collaboration Squared (last year’s Innovations Showcase winner) and their return to InfoComm with the Ubiety video-web-audio platform and Ubiety Advanced Meetings for Cisco Spark.

Enter visual collaboration with such technologies as Oblong Mezzanine and Prysm Visual Workplace, and you have a whole new discussion where the concept of video and workplace are concerned. Sum it up as the overall collaborative video workplace, which is here now.

With all of this being said, along with the panel discussions and presentations which took place at InfoComm, is a new UCC mindset truly upon us?

An excerpt from a statement made by industry executive guest Ashan Willy, SVP, Product Management & WW Systems Engineering at Polycom on our AV Power Up podcast at InfoComm:

“I think that there are a couple of changes we’ve seen in the market, the biggest one has to do with buying behavior, so the buying centers are changing in the space. Many years ago when the industry moved from telephony to IP telephony, the buying centers moved from the telephony buying center to the IT person. The same is happening for video actually as it’s moving more toward IT, so the buying center and the decision maker has less knowledge of the intricacies of video and therefore ready made solutions or solutions that deploy easily in an environment have become extremely important.”

I’ll add to this IT being responsible for more on-prem software infrastructure and Cloud deployed solutions these days, where the want, and need for current offerings in video collaboration certainly become a likewise focus. And of course we all know the Skype for Business conversation very well by now.

The answer to a new UCC mindset being upon us is obvious and it involves hard looks at the entire video collaboration space, especially when at the show, to understand this as apparently these messages (as evidenced here) are already being delivered.

More to come on the New UCC mindset with industry notables.