Do SMBs want unified communications?

Summary:Where is unified communications headed? Will it eventually break out of the corporate space and attract the attention of business operators? If so, who will provide the service?

Where is unified communications headed? Will it eventually break out of the corporate space and attract the attention of business operators? If so, who will provide the service?

First there was IP telephony. It enabled large corporations to use their private network to share data and voice, mainly to cut costs. Soon after we started talking about unified messaging, getting all our email and voicemail in the same inbox. Then came unified communications (UC) which is easily described as ... er, anyone got a quick answer to that one?

In this week's Twisted Wire we hear that UC is so yesterday. Cisco's Peter Hughes says we don't call it that anymore.

Even though we seem to struggle with a definition (or name) for unified communications it continues to grow in strength. Telstra has recently launched a link between its IP Telephony solution and Microsoft Office. Telstra's Philip Jones is excited by what it offers and where it can go in the future, but it is, of course, suited to larger businesses rather than SMEs.

Wherever UC goes there is the risk of confusing potential customers even further. Is the problem we seem to have in describing and quantifying the benefits of UC stopping it gaining ground amongst small business users? Ovum's Evan Kirchheimer and Peter Hall say, because prospective customers don't already have an IP system, mobile operators have an opportunity to fill this gap, substituting the fixed line phone with a UC-connected mobile device. It needs to be easy to understand and useful, of course.

Cisco's Peter Hughes says he thinks it's a long time before businesses get rid of their fixed line, saying we can expect more devices to be connected to a UC solution, not less. He points to this video as an example of how devices can work together.

Have a listen to this week's Twisted Wire, then tell us what your thoughts are on the future of unified communications.

  • Is it just a tool for larger corporate customers?
  • Can mobile providers really play a part in this space?
  • Will telcos be able to provide something usable?
  • How do you sell it?
  • What's the real sales proposition?
  • Is it essential for the survival of telcos?
  • Do they need to start offering this sort of rich functionality to escape dwindling call revenues?

Hear more about the Telstra and Microsoft UC alliance on this BTalk Australia podcast.

Topics: Telcos, Cisco, Networking, SMBs, Telstra

About

Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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