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ITEXPO East 2012: The Future of Unified Communications and Collaboration

January 30, 2012

Technology advancements continue to emerge and change the direction of the telecommunications space. With ITEXPO East 2012 just around the corner, TMC’s Rich Tehrani sat down with Matt Hendrickson, VP of Marketing with ConnectSolutions, to get his opinion on the last year and coming tends in the market. When asked his opinion on the most significant technological advancement in the past 12 months, Hendrickson pointed to the wide adoption of the cloud. As for the biggest trend in his market segment, he highlighted Unified Communications.

When asked about the biggest challenge facing his customers today, Hendrickson noted the largest organizations simply want scalability, speed and lower total cost of ownership of the cloud model, but are unable to fully adopt the model. He does believe the cloud has significantly impacted his business, creating new revenue opportunities in the SMB and large enterprise markets. When asked if cloud-based communications will expedite the end of the premises-based PBX market, Hendrickson noted that even with tremendous cost advantages, replacing the PBX will take longer than most organizations have planned. As for social media, Hendrickson highlighted that the company’s website, twitter feeds, blog and other tools have proven to be effective working in conjunction with existing marketing efforts.

Asked if every business needs a social presence, he advised that most companies should do the basics to help raise awareness. When pressed to share his opinion on Microsoft’s potential to lead in the enterprise mobile market, Hendrickson said the software giant, as well as Apple and Google have the potential to become the dominate player in this space. At ITEXPO, ConnectSolutions plans to launch its Managed Private Cloud for Microsoft Lync. As for his prediction for 2012, he believes the largest global organization and government agencies will embrace Unified Communications and Collaboration, while also rejecting the idea of a single stack from a major player.

Their entire conversation follows:

1.      What was the most significant technological advancement in the past 12 months and why?

The wide adoption of the cloud and recent moves by enterprise and government to move to a cloud-based service offering (i.e. government cloud-first initiatives).

2.      What has been the biggest trend in your market segment and how is it impacting your customers?

Unified Communications. The convergence of best-of-breed communication, conferencing and collaboration applications in ways that reduce costs, increase productivity and integrate into existing business processes and existing solutions.

3.      What is the biggest challenge facing your customers today and how is your company helping address that challenge?

The largest organizations want the speed, scalability and lower total cost of ownership of a cloud model, but are unable to fully adopt this model due to their need for higher security, integration and customization. Thus, ConnectSolutions has introduced a “Managed Private Cloud” which offers the agility of the cloud with the control of an on-premise solution.

4.      How has the cloud impacted your business? How has it impacted your customers?

Substantially. As public clouds have been introduced for smaller organizations, the need for a Managed Private Cloud has emerged for larger organizations. As a result, our customers have been able to be more agile in deploying Unified Communication and Collaboration UCC applications.

5.      Will cloud-based communications expedite the end of the premises-based PBX market?

Although the cost-savings are tremendous, replacing the PBX will take longer than most organizations realize. The quality, reliability and user interface of cloud-based voice solutions has not yet reached the level of reliability that users expect from their desk phone. In the interim, organizations will look to best-of-breed solution providers to integrate their communication and conferencing applications more seamlessly with their current audio/voice providers.

6.      What approach has your business taken to social media? If you have implemented a social media program, have you been able to evaluate your program’s success?

Our website, blog, and Twitter feeds are an effective tool that complements our existing marketing efforts. They have given us a boost in awareness and lead gen, but have not replaced other efforts.

7.      Does every business need a social media presence? Why or why not?

Most companies should do the basics -- blog, Twitter feed, Facebook, LinkedIn -- because it helps organizations with awareness.

8.      With Microsoft touting tight integration between its mobile and desktop OS, can it become a major competitor in the enterprise mobile market?

Microsoft (as well as Apple, Google) are companies that have a shot at becoming major competitors in nearly any market that they decide to focus on.

9.      What can attendees expect from your company at ITEXPO?

We are launching our Managed Private Cloud for Microsoft Lync which allows organizations to get up and running with a UCC solutions in weeks, not months.

10. Make one technology prediction for 2012 and consider its impact.

The largest global organization and government agencies will embrace the value of a unified communication and collaboration solution that drives down costs and increases worker productivity, but will reject the notion that it needs to be provided in a single technology stack from Microsoft or Cisco. Instead, organizations will look to best-of-breed service providers that have the ability to integrate the best solutions from multiple vendors into their existing business processes.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO East 2012, taking place Jan. 31-Feb. 3 2012, in Miami, FL. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO registration click here.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for unified communications and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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