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You’ll see a very familiar name quoted in this story. It seems like I’m becoming the poster child for the miserable Unified Communications industry. I fed him three or four ideas for this article:

1) Quantifying the value proposition in real, business case analysis terms to customers is hard — the costs that UC saves are soft (because it’s employee time, not capital or recurring expense cost) and tough to recognize. 2) Evolving all-in-one platforms never keeps pace with the evolution of individual elements (the quote he used). 3) Communicating what nethery concepts like Unified Messaging or Unified Communications (or whatever) is hard — why do I need it? 4) Different types of carriers, Enterprises, and consumers have very different drivers and motivators, and their solutions tend not to be repeatable.

Unfortunately, I think that the best Unified Communications solution is one that is difficult to assemble and will tend not to work — best-in-breed components from multiple vendors interacting via open standards and protocols. Unfortunately this philosophy is what caused Cisco’s Unified Communications strategy, the infamous “uOne” solution, (I guess I am partly to blame for this) to fail.

As such, I don’t think that Unified Communications is itself a compelling product. Where it is bundled with a product that brings customers through your door I fully believe that those customers will grow to love, and in fact depend on, the service. But trying to sell Unified Communications as a stand-alone service in its own silo is too difficult.

Fundamentally, that’s why the market has failed to live up to its own hype.

-Ian.

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