Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Survey says...

The results of the CDW 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll are in.  The survey gathers results from 900 IT professionals, and you can get access to the report at http://newsroom.cdw.com/features/feature-04-04-11.html. The linked page has several highlights from the report on it, or you can download a copy of the report as well (you will be prompted for some information first for the full report).

I did not have access to the report before it was published today, so my post the other day asking for input on the importance of voicemail was not a setup, I swear!  But one of the things that stood out to me was how voicemail was included in the top two features for respondents' users--specifically, access to voicemail and email on smart phones, and access to voicemail in email.

Source: CDW 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll
The full report breaks this down by segments, and there is some variation in the rankings there.  For example, the top rated feature in the Federal Government was video conferencing (which was 3rd overall across all segments).

Another very interesting question and response was related to what technology was central or foundational to a company's implementation of unified communications.  The premise here is that although UC is the blending of several different communication medium, that a company ultimately selects one medium as central to their initiative. Of the available options, email-centric had a significant lead over telephony-centric approaches, and IM-centric approaches were a distant last.

Source: CDW 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll

As we all know, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics, so you have to always take polls with a grain of salt.  But this was a considerable sample size, and the overall study was performed by O'Keeffe & Company. At the very least, there are some things here that the strategists within IBM should take into consideration:
  1. E-mail is not dead, particularly when it comes to unified communications.  IBM has the number two-platform in this space, and it should leverage it for greater competitive advantage, particularly against telephony-centric players.
  2. Voicemail and unified messaging is relevant, particularly to those pesky end-users.  IBM depends on third-party solutions to fill this portion of their UC portfolio.  That can lead to an inconsistent implementation across vendors, and that can drive companies to competitive solutions--particularly when this is a central feature of its primary competitor's platform.
  3. Mobile access to email and voicemail are key, and the broader the support for mobile devices, the less dissatisfaction again with those pesky end-users.
  4. Video is next.  As use of it increases with consumers through services from Skype, Apple and Android, this will only rise in importance.  Get ahead of the pack by pursuing video federation with these providers similar to how Sametime has federated with consumer IM solutions.


  1. Microsoft keep pushing voicemail integration, yet less than 5% have implemented it - even amongst die hard Microsoft organizations. Also found very little interest in this at the last two TechEd events I visited. Wonder why this survey seems to indicate a different type of interest?

  2. There seems to be a perception difference between IT professionals and the user population at large. I think VoiceMail is pretty dead. With Smartphones everywhere SMS and IM is much more efficient (you won't listen to a voicemail in a meeting, but you can read your SMS). And most of the voicemails are anyway: "call me back" messages.
    It was the first thing I switched off.

    For IM: it probably flies below the radar as "taken for granted".

    :-) stw

  3. Nice post Phil, completely agree on video demand growing fast going forward. Gateway style video federation would be nice for end users, I'm just skeptical that the business involved could agree to terms. Refer to Sametime Gateway's lack of MS Live integration, and soon to be retired Yahoo IM integration. These aren't technical problems, they are business model problems.

    A case could be made that it would be better to put efforts towards implementing/backing paradigms and technologies for video conferencing systems interaction to behave more like email and less like IM. If I'm at company A I don't have to be on the same email system as company B to exchange messages, I don't even need a third party to act as a gateway, or special work done by server or network support teams, even if we've never exchanged messages before. Small businesses and consumers would get access to a SIP "proxy" for their use through their ISP much like POP3/SMTP/DNS service.

    The standards already exist for this, however I don't see or hear about companies considering it. Is that because the products utilizing the standards aren't quite ready for interop in this manner, a gap in standards covering some must have capability? Or is it simply an idea waiting for a little more momentum to start taking off?