Monday, 12 October 2009

IPExpo: A missed opportunity to make the case

Autumn greetings to you all! After a very busy start to the fall season, I’m back. The IPExpo 2009 event concluded in London last week, where the leading vendors of IP communications & collaboration, virtualization and cloud computing were demonstrating innovative solutions.

There was definitely a buzz around the infrastructure players promoting cloud computing and capability delivery as a service. My guess is… at this point there are enough major players investing in cloud and SaaS delivery to make this a realistic alternative to premised based software and equipment. Thus, I believe the infrastructure fans and customers were quite pleased with the show.

However, I’m not sure what the spectators of voice and Unified Communication (UC) solutions thought? I for one was quite disappointed with presentations and messaging around the UC vendor’s solutions. The majority of the communications vendors spent their energy explaining and “educating” the audience on what UC is, what the perimeters of UC are, plus highlighting the value of their product features. Except for Mitel, no other vendor tried to leverage the Cloud buzz in the hall or surf on the Cloud wave. It was almost as if the vendors felt they needed to defend their own existence while trying to claim as much of the UC “solution space” as possible… Very frustrating!

Did anyone try to make an operational case for:

  • Improved reliability and scalability?
  • Improve productivity yet reduce TCO?
  • Utility pricing (pay for what you use and when you use it)?
  • Minimize or eliminate capital expenditures?
  • Open standards for interoperability?

No! In a world of increased pressure to reduce or eliminate capital expenditures, the UC vendors missed a golden opportunity to talk about operational differentiation, key partnerships for delivery options. To my knowledge, Mitel was the only vendor trying to differentiate themselves on anything other than product features. Who cares about product features such as 1-number dialing, unified messaging, fixed to mobile convergence, video and collaboration unless the overall solution delivers meaningful results to customer’s business.

It’s time for the marketing folks to step it up: this is just not good enough. It’s been more than a year since the credit crunch stalled or slowed down the markets, surely the vendors have noticed.

What say you?