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Leveraging End Points to Promote UC

I have been quoted at trade shows for a statement I have been making for some time, that is, “Telephony by itself has no perceived value any longer.” It is therefore uncanny, but end points, a.k.a. desktop phones, can be used as leverage to deploy a fully loaded UC environment, including Telephony, Contact Center, and the full UC suite of IM/chat, presence, audio conferencing, video conferencing, Unified Messaging, LDAP corporate directory, document sharing, and Web collaboration. Here’s why (and how).


Key End Point Trends

Key end point trends taking place and themes include:

  • IP phone sales remain very active – hardphones can be used at the traditional desk or at home, remote office, hotel, etc.

  • Feature/functionality continues to increase at the desktop – features and functions not available just five years ago now include Bluetooth, G.722 HD CODEC, GB ports, Active Directory integration

  • UC client elements are now included at the desktop – including IM/chat, presence, some with video, other UC apps

  • Desktop/mobility integration is now a common request – users want to have a “one number reach” and have the ability to have anyone reach them anywhere, to any device.  In addition, desktop mobility provides the ability to work at a second site and bringing your direct DID number with you. You can now share an office part time and reduce real estate costs. We are currently working with a client who will reduce their annual real estate costs by over $2M annually leveraging this feature.

  • Some End Points “No Longer Necessary” – some end points are being considered “no longer necessary” based on discussions with our clients. They may include low usage areas, areas where a mobile device would make more sense using wireless access points, removal of end points in dorms in the University space, replacing a hard phone with a softphone client for particular users who may not require a five 9s model to the desktop.

  • Soft clients – from basic softphone to a fully integrated UC softphone, soft clients can be used as an end point. Mobile UC clients can add feature and functionality to a basic softphone client, including softphone, adhoc audio conferencing, adhoc video conferencing, IM/chat, presence, doc sharing, collaboration.

  • Non traditional vendors now “Play” in the UC space - Non traditional vendors now “play” in the UC space, i.e., Microsoft, Google, Oracle (Acme Packet), Logitech, and even cellular carriers.

  • An End Point Is No Longer Just An End Point – An end point is no longer just an end point it is now an “integrated real-time communications, applications device” which resides on the data network.

  • End points now have components of UC built right into them, providing a “starting point” for leveraging UC throughout the enterprise.


When Is An End Point An End Point?

An end point can be any one of the following:

  • Hard phone / hard end point (on site or remote)

  • Softphone client

  • Soft UC client

  • Tablet

  • Smartphone

Any of these devices can now be used either as a main telephony or UC client or a secondary device. Note that, for any of the above end points, to achieve best audio and video connectivity, QoS policies on routers/switches need to be in place, and QoS prioritized bandwidth is also necessary. Also note that redundancy and resiliency are necessary to achieve a five 9s model expected in a commercial organization environment.


Evolving Desktop Features

Desktop pricing has remained flat, however, feature/functionality has been increasing. The chart below shows the differences between desk end points just 60 months ago and those today:



One can see that areas such as Bluetooth-enabled sets, G.722 HD CODEC, apps, video availability, IM/chat, presence, desktop mobility, one number reach features and functions were simply not available just 60 months ago. Now take a look at the expanded chart below:

Most of those features and functions stated above are now also available in tablets and smartphones as well. This UC suite availability will impact desktop sales, I believe, over time, but the desktop can be used strategically as a way of introducing UC to an entire organization.


The Opportunity and Requirements

The opportunity long term can be significant in transforming an organization, however the desktop cannot be looked only as a telephony-only device. With such perception, telephony will not offer any value. It’s just swapping old end points with new. 

If, however, desktops can be utilized as a basic UC client (or some elements of), then this is a great way of introducing UC longer term into the enterprise. Even fewer end points can equal more UC end points and applications longer term and can offer a way of helping pay for UC licensing.

Requirements for the channel, consulting, and staffing need to consider:

  • UC technical skill sets

  • UC process skill sets

  • Groups, departments specializing in UC design and deployments

  • Compelling ROI cases

  • Knowledge, specialization with integration to Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Sugar CRM, and other CRM apps

  • Training sales and technical staff towards UC

  • UC infrastructure that supports a five 9s even six 9s infrastructure model

  • Choosing partner(s) carefully


Summary and Conclusion

Telephony end points are not a compelling reason to upgrade or replace a legacy system, no matter how many new features are available for desktops (and that much better than those 60 months ago). If you can leverage the UC feature and functionality available in today’s desktops, you can help create a baseline for creating a compelling case for UC. Your longer term vision is to also include a possible reduction of desktops, where applicable, with either soft clients or mobile devices. This strategy is on a case-by-case basis and needs to be vetted before a go-live date.

People know what a desktop is, and have been using such for years and a logical choice to expand on such to now include UC. It is also important to consider tablets or smartphones and even fewer end points as possible substitution. Leveraging UC by acquiring desktops on the front end may be your key move to begin the process towards a rich UC environment. Since people already have a desktop, adding UC features and functionality to a desktop while introducing a compelling UC case will begin the process towards migrating the user community in your organization towards a feature-rich full UC suite longer term.

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