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Two separate announcements crossed my inbox today, and even though they were generated on opposite sides of the globe, they both highlight the beginning of a big change in large enterprise communications. It’s becoming more obvious not only that large enterprises (1,000 seats and up) are moving towards hosted communications – but what’s more interesting is why this shift is particularly well-suited for carriers and service providers.
First up, from today’s VoiceCon eNews newsletter from VoiceCon super-chair Eric Krapf, on what he’s looking out for at next week’s show:
- Are enterprises seriously considering cloud-based communications, to a more significant degree than they were a year ago? Can carriers/service providers deliver enterprise-grade services from the cloud?
- Is video coming to a meaningful number of enterprise desktops in the next 12-18 months, and if so, why?
- Is interoperability in Unified Communications even a remote prospect?
Now let’s shoot ten thousand miles away to Australia, where Telstra announced not only that their hosted communications service (TIPT) now supports video phones, but also that TIPT supports video calling and high-definition audio calling between enterprises on the Telstra network:
Following the launch of the first video telephony service from an Australian telco, Australians will now be able to communicate face-to-face using desktop video phones.
Telstra’s acting Executive Director, Data, IP & Enterprise Services, Carol White, said more than 300 organisations using Telstra’s hosted IP telephony product (TIPT) could take advantage of the high-quality business-to-business video telephony service simply by upgrading their desktop phones.
And remember – TIPT has already integrated enterprise OCS from Microsoft. Telstra also supports SIP Trunking as a complement to its hosted offers, allowing it to serve ‘hybrid’ enterprises.
The killer app here, the theme that’s starting to come to the fore across large enterprises around the world – and the key competitive advantage for service providers like Telstra – is integration. While Small Businesses and Midmarket companies are open to ‘greenfield’ unified communications solutions, large enterprises really aren’t. Large Enterprises have made decisions and investments in IT and tools, and they don’t want those replaced – they want them complemented. They want things like:
- Voice Integration – Integration of their premises-based communications systems (PBXs) and hosted communications,
- App Integration – Integration of their communications and the IT apps (Microsoft OCS, IBM Sametime) they have in-house, and
- Video Integration – Integration of their communications and video collaboration systems.
This is exactly what Telstra has done for their large enterprise customers – by integrating hosted/cloud communications, trunking to PBXs, video solutions and OCS integration, they’re delivering exactly what large enterprises need. And this is where carriers and service providers have an opportunity to shine – because these large enterprises needs really aren’t well served by individual PBX vendors.
So going into Voicecon this year, it’s obvious to me that some old misconceptions are fading away. Hosted communications is not a solution only for the SMB; as Telstra demonstrates, hosted is an ideal fit for large enterprises. SIP Trunking is not about making connectivity cheaper – it’s real value is more as an on-ramp to bring large enterprises into a hosted UC solution.
And for service providers – their opportunities to serve large enterprises, SMBs, and the midmarket – continue to grow. See you at Voicecon!
IDC recently released a report with some astonishing figures on mobile workers, forecasting more than 1 billion worldwide by the end of 2010. But wait – Google took it one further, with the director of its European operations stating that desktop PCs will be “irrelevant in three years” (reported here in Read, Write, Web). And, as the same report identifies, this sentiment aligns with what Google’s CEO discussed in his keynote at Mobile World Congress, when he made it clear that a primary focus for Google going forward will be on the mobile market.
While three years seems dramatically soon for desktop PCs to disappear, it’s clear that we have reached a tipping point of sorts for advanced communications technology tools and services. There is no denying the impact VoIP has had on this explosion and its role in providing seamless, hassle-free remote access. Many work places have implemented enhanced, formal telecommuting policies and are encouraging employees to take advantage of them. A central part of this equation is unified communications.
We’ve been singing the praises of UC for quite some time, drawing attention to the practical applications and ROI of its integration aspects. For BroadSoft employees, UC was a lifeline during the recent Snowmageddon of 2010, allowing us to maintain productivity and not skip a beat over several days in which none, or few, of us were able to commute into the “office.”
As the world gets flatter and the demand to work remotely increases, we can expect to see a number of trends on the rise (besides more workers going mobile and the end of dinosaur PC’s under cubicle desks), including more businesses turning to SIP Trunking and dramatic increases in hosted UC deployments. A CDW survey, reported by TMCnet supports this, showing that many companies have already experienced increased ROI from UC.
The bottom line to all of this is that in the not too distant future, we can expect almost all businesses to offer telecommuting options, often supported by hosted UC tools and services, just as today they provide employees computers and internet access.
We called it right on LTE, back in November ‘09 – check out that post here…and this past month in Barcelona all the big players came on board. More than 40 mobile organizations announced their support for One Voice (which will now be called the Voice Over LTE Initiative or VoLTE) per the GSMA, the host organization of Mobile World Congress.
The benefits of LTE are obvious at this point and just about all of the providers now agree that a rapid move towards IMS standards is necessary. Many of the large providers are unveiling plans for roll-outs sooner rather than later. And Teliasonera and Ericsson have already launched the first 4G LTE network in Stockholm and Oslo. Verizon is working towards a commercial 4G LTE roll-out across 30 major markets by the end of 2010.
While this NYT piece reported from the MWC show floor suggests that carriers may only be committing to LTE in theory and holding back based on the extensive investment required for network upgrades, we think any carrier dragging their feet will be left in the dust. Consider that one of AOL’s tragic flaws in delaying high-speed service. As a result, subscribers dropped like flies.
Data volumes on mobile networks are surging, and this article from GigaOM points out that 3G networks aren’t keeping pace. If consumers don’t get a fast, quality experience they will abandon new applications and innovation will be stifled. Businesses and consumers are salivating for faster, more reliable access to multimedia communications that improve the quality of their professional and personal interactions. We believe that LTE will deliver on this promise and there’s no time to waste in bringing it to market. Innovation is calling and carriers need to answer the call.