Blog archive - March 2012
Use the blog to discuss and comment on the latest industry insights provided by our analyst experts.
by Rob Arnold 30 Mar 2012
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Now that Enterprise Connect has come and gone, I’m comparing notes with other attendees and fielding inquiries from colleagues and clients alike about my thoughts on the UC market’s biggest showcase event. A couple of years ago, the then-called VoiceCon event was aptly renamed Enterprise Connect as it became obvious that the enterprise communications market had evolved to become an ecosystem of integrated technologies spanning voice, data/text-based, and video applications of both the communications and business software. As usual, my Enterprise Connect schedule, as well as those of my colleagues and everyone I met with, was extremely packed. There was so much to see, many new announcements, and yet it seemed, so little time. The exhibition floor was a flurry of activity, with flashing lights, and boisterous as well as polite spokespeople competing for attention. Crowds gathered at the booths of the usual suspects, while other exhibitors enjoyed a more even flow of visitors. In no particular order, here’s what stood out to me: Video applications continued to rank among the hottest topics. Cisco, Avaya, GlowPoint, Vidyo, RADVISION, LifeSize, Polycom, Logitech and others all either unveiled new solutions or showcased their most recently introduced visual communications solutions. Common threads here were enhancing the user experience, improved interoperability as well as reducing the costs and complexity that have traditionally hampered adoption. Customers have raised these same concerns for years. Obviously, developers are listening. Cloud appears to gain momentum by the day. Avaya, Siemens Enterprise Communications, Sprint, NEC, 8x8, and ShoreTel were highlights among many cloud-centered discussions as these providers articulated their latest initiatives to make UC&C solutions more flexible, reliable, feature-rich and cost-effective options for customers. However, conversations in session tracks and numerous panels served to remind us that real-time applications served up from the cloud still need further development and maturity before many customers are ready to offload their mission-critical services to the cloud. Demoing the latest UC clients, whether desktop, Web-based or mobile, pervaded the early part of my schedule. Representatives from Aastra, ALU, Cisco, Siemens Enterprise, Avaya and others readily drove me through their respective next-gen interfaces. It soon became clear that UC developers are still in competition to deliver the most intuitive interfaces while packing in the most features. And getting my hands on the latest devices from Logitech, snom, Plantronics, Digium, Jabra, Yealink, Sennheiser, RTX, ClearOne, and others reinforced my belief that endpoints remain pivotal to UC adoption, utilization and ROI, as it is the end point that connects a user to his/her applications and where the user experience begins. Now that the value proposition of network convergence is widely understood and proven, business process integration has finally emerged as the next powerful driver for UC&C. Customers can appreciate the elegance of a UC client from which a long list of comms apps can be accessed. However, customers are looking for solutions that deliver real business value that can be measured with metrics that matter to them. UC&C is manifesting itself as a means to streamline and otherwise reduce latency in business processes and workflows—a promise that resonates with any enterprise decision maker or influencer. Nearly all the booths I visited (with Microsoft, Thrupoint, Siemens Enterprise Communications, Avaya, Interactive Intelligence, Cisco, ShoreTel, and Genesys coming to mind) displayed a solution in which communications features (presence/IM, click-to-call/IM/video) were exposed within business applications (e-mail, CRM, ERP, etc), thereby enabling users to remain in their current working environment while collaborating with others. VoiceCon may now be Enterprise Connect, but connectivity and networking have not diminished as talking points at the show. Discussions of enterprise SBCs, multi-vendor interop, reliability, next-gen connectivity and enabling cloud solutions have only served to brighten the spotlight for providers delivering the often-overlooked essentials of UC&C architectures. Accordingly NET, ADTRAN, Acme Packet, AudioCodes, HP and others appropriately leveraged Enterprise Connect to announce and showcase their latest and greatest developments. There were sessions, demos and discussions on social business, yet it was notably much quieter on this front than it was last year. Yes, BYOD took a head seat at the table of many discussions. Developers are trying hard to help, and to capitalize. Despite these efforts it is obvious that most enterprises are struggling with the phenomenon, and this raises my last topic. One of the most valuable things for me was the opportunity to listen and talk to all types of customers. We know that sponsors carefully screen the reference customers that they invite to speak publically. It’s always good to hear the positive things that they say about their chosen technology partners. It’s rare that customers raise strong concerns when asked to evangelize for their provider. This year was notably different in that regard. Customers I interacted with were seemingly more candid than in the past. Perhaps it is because they realize they have options to go elsewhere if needed. Product viability was a concern raised by customers several times, as was help with managing BYOD, moving to the cloud or optimizing their investments in video solutions. I’ve long thought that UC&C requires a much more consultative approach and a more tightly knit customer-developer relationship compared to siloed product deployments. It looks like that has not changed, despite the progression of technology itself. Rather, some of the talking points have shifted. This is only a partial diary of my time at Enterprise Connect this year. I’m still digesting everything I’ve learned. After I’ve settled back in at my desk for a few days I’ll probably begin to look forward to the hustle and bustle of next year’s show.
by Michael Brandenburg 29 Mar 2012
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In a recent conversation with Alcatel-Lucent about their new OpenTouch Conversation app for the iPad, a simple comment was made in passing that has stuck with me for the last several days. The suggestion was made that the iPad was the right platform for their application, providing a “consumer-quality user experience, rather than the typical enterprise one”. It was not that long ago when “consumer-grade” was a derogatory term around professionals. Most photographers still scoff at the notion of anything other than a high-end Nikon or Canon for their work and you likely never see an auto mechanic buying tools from a discount store. Likewise, the notion of running down to the nearest big box store to purchase a network switch, router, or access point for use in the office would send shivers down the spine of most IT practitioners. The aversion to consumer devices within many enterprises carried over into mobile devices. “Enterprise-grade” mobile devices, both smart phones and tablets, tend to focus heavily on the qualities that IT professionals care about most, management and security, at times relegating the end-user experience as a second-tier feature. Back in the days when Blackberry was at the top of the heap, its devices were highly praised for its strong management and security features, but one would be hard pressed to ever consider the user experience it delivered as anything other than utilitarian. Consumers, also known as enterprise end users, ultimately tolerated these mobile devices, largely because it was the only way to get connected to enterprise systems. Then came the iPhone, bringing with it a user-friendly user interface backed with solid hardware. Unlike their corporate issued Blackberries, consumers were actually willing to spring for one out of their own pocket. Enterprise management and security features were literally an afterthought for Apple, pushed to make their decidedly consumer device integrate with the corporate systems. Consumers continue to buy Apple devices by the millions, while the enterprise stalwarts Microsoft and RIM have both gone back to the drawing board to make their devices more user-friendly. So to hear an enterprise UC vendor like Alcatel-Lucent flip the argument about consumer devices strikes a chord. The company’s iPad-first approach is a testament to the disappearing distinction between the consumer and enterprise grades.
by Francisco Rizzo 19 Mar 2012
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Last Friday the iPad 3 was made commercially available to the world and it is incredible to think that just 24 months ago the original iPad first appeared. One could say that the tablet gold rush is a contemporary phenomenon; however, the tablet—as we know it today—is the result of countless prototypes and commercial blunders of more primitive technologies. While the success of the modern tablet is attributed in large part to Apple’s proven marketing strategy and product excellence, I would add that the underlying technologies that define the tablet experience were not ripe until recently. If we are to reflect on the pre-iPad world, we must keep in mind that iPad’s predecessors were very different from what we have come to expect from contemporary tablet devices. The modern tablet is the offspring of personal digital assistants (e.g., Palm-Pilot), and the graphics tablets that began to appear in the early 1980s (e.g., Pencept Penpad). These technologies influenced the modern tablet concept—through form factor and functionality—and should be recognized on this date. It is also worth mentioning that before there were consumer tablets, enterprises were making use of professional tablets that were purposely designed for different vertical markets. These were cumbersome, limited in functionality—no web browser and application store—and costly, making them a niche product. These enterprise-centric products are still around today; however, the ubiquity of the iPad and its contemporaries (e.g., Android-based tablets and the RIM PlayBook) is forcing professional tablet vendors to rethink their product strategy. Consumer tablets have the peculiarity that they were influenced by professional tablets, and due to their commercial success and broad range of functionalities, have made their way into the enterprise space. Today, we see personally-owned tablets being used by workers across the globe and this is resulting in a paradigm shift within enterprises, particularly within IT departments. Support for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is the latest trend to hit the ICT world, and this is a direct consequence of the proliferation of tablets and smartphones. The tablet market is a cash cow in the making. Not only are tablets here to stay, their versatility allows them to be used in almost any enterprise setting. This means that the tablet market will create new markets, making this the opportunity of a lifetime for many ICT vendors. The other side of the coin is that the tablet will destroy pre-existing markets; however, many would say this is the price to pay for progress. Happy birthday iPad 3, we expect great things from you.
by Austin Pullmann 19 Mar 2012
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It’s the rare B2B marketer who hasn’t had to listen to sales reps complain about the quality of leads being provided. And sales forces tend to be underwhelmed by the volume of leads too. So what to do? Ramping up demand generation efforts makes little sense if the lead management process (i.e., what happens to it when it comes in the door) is fundamentally broken. Conversely, refining lead scoring and assignment won’t help much if demand generation is based on anaemic contacts database. Sometimes getting more of the right leads to Sales necessitates starting anew. The Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) recently profiled Kronos, Inc., a workforce management software and services company, on its overhaul of demand management. Here are some key lessons we learned from Kronos: It’s a (big) team sport: It is common sense to set up a cross-functional team when dealing with major initiatives, and fixing demand management is no exception. You need to think beyond including the obvious groups such as Marketing and Sales. Demand management touches multiple functions in one way or another, and involving them is crucial to identifying and root causing the challenges. Finance, IT and web teams were key parts of the taskforce Kronos established Speak the Same Language: Ever tried to Google some of the following terms: demand management, lead generation, or marketing automation? The great diversity in definitions you find is indicative of the confusion over terminology that often occurs within companies and between the functions involved. It is absolutely imperative for all stakeholders to examine their demand management lexicon and establish a shared set of definitions moving forward. Kronos defined demand management as the process of identifying and engaging prospects, converting them to leads, and moving them through the sales pipeline What Matters Most: It is not always obvious what issues you need to tackle first. Some marketers focus on technology and while there is invariably some new technology that appears to be the solution, ignoring process is quite a risky move. The better approach is to employ a comprehensive framework to assess where you have performance gaps today and then determine what your desired state is—this then drives your technology requirements amongst other things. Kronos used a simple people, process, technology framework to guide its evaluation of the lead management system Improve Lead Velocity: Even the best lead in the world degrades quickly, so it is imperative to get it into the hands of sales quickly. Marketers have to determine how process, technology and the hand off to Sales will work in concert to deliver leads promptly. Employing Marketing Automation Platforms will speed lead processing. Lead development (going from a Marketing Captured Lead to a Marketing Qualified Lead) is often bedevilled by issues that undermine the whole system. To solve this, Kronos created a lead development group that qualifies the leads. Employing service level agreements helps set expectations for this group Right Content, Right Time: Prospects exist at all stages of the buying cycle, so Marketing needs to create the right mix of content/offers to capture them. Prospects at the beginning stage of the buying cycle tend to behave more passively (e.g., downloading white papers or case studies), whereas later-stage prospects are more active (e.g., will participate in live events). You need to develop a content strategy that spans across the buying cycle, as well as being tailored to your target segments Revisiting your demand management approach with these principles in mind is no easy task, but marketing leadership ignores the function’s contribution to the sales pipeline at its own peril. Learn how Kronos revitalized demand management Kronos’ Corporate Marketing faced the core challenge we outlined at the outset: the need to provide sales with higher quality and higher volume of leads. Accordingly, marketing led a thorough overhaul of demand generation and lead management. Attend our webinar on Tuesday, March 27 featuring Kronos’ best practice and Q&A with Steve Gray, VP of Corporate Marketing, and Director for Corporate Marketing Operations, Susan Paugh Download a three-page excerpt from GTM’s 14-page Best Practice Guidebook, Implementing an Effective Demand Management Process Contact the authors: Austin Pullmann (Austin.Pullmann@frost.com) and Keith O’Brien (Keith.Obrien@frost.com).
by Holly Lyke Ho Gland 19 Mar 2012
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Strategists continue to struggle with many of the perennial issues they identified in the 2011 survey—developing effective implementation plans and aligning corporate and financial objectives. In regards to implementation, the focus is on developing an effective procedure for execution that includes standardized metrics and milestones. Companies newfound focus on long-term planning—looking ten or more years out for game changing opportunities and threats has strategists endeavoring to integrate future or Mega Trends within their planning process. In addition, this emphasis on long-term strategies requires strategists to demonstrate the value of Mega Trend initiatives, even though they may not show financial results for a few years. When strategist’s challenges were analyzed by business model, strategist in B-to-B companies cite challenges with strategy implementation and integrating future or Mega Trends.. However, strategists in B-to-C companies stress additional problems such as: aligning divisional and corporate strategies and integrating sustainability into the corporate plan, in addition to strategy implementation. To better understand the top challenges, respondents were asked to “root cause” them in terms of staffing, process, technology/systems, or strategic alignment. The root causes ran the full gamut of options from insufficient staff to a lack of strategic alignment on common objectives. Companies continue to be cautious about resource allocation and corporate strategy functions are not exempt from this. Respondents foresee both budget and staffing levels remaining constant in 2012. Given the perennial struggle with getting strategies implemented, respondents were asked a series of questions about their implementation practices. Strategists indicate they use a variety of best-in-class implementation practices: Employing a dedicated implementation team Ensuring that divisions—both business (profit centers) and service units (support functions like Human Resources)—create annual strategies that are aligned with the corporate strategy Conducting quarterly strategy execution reviews within the strategy team and with senior management Despite using these best-in-class practices, most respondents graded their companies as “Average” regarding strategy execution. The divergence between best practices and effectiveness can be explained by additional findings from the survey: Implementation teams are understaffed and/or members of the team lack the “right” skill sets The clarity of roles between participants in strategic planning is only rated as “Average” Technology systems for strategy monitoring are outdated and insufficient for strategists’ needs In conclusion, the interest in Mega Trends for planning coupled with meeting the financial expectations of stakeholders, requires strategists to develop and apply implementation and monitoring processes. To strengthen strategy implementation, strategists need to first set their own house in order: ensure the department has the appropriate people, that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and the supporting technologies are up to the task. Secondly, corporate strategy functions need to create greater transparency around roles, metrics and expectations. Access the full report for a more detailed analysis of the survey results—by business model, corporate development challenges, and trends in post-M&A integration. Strategy Implementation and Acquisition Integration - 2012 Corporate Strategy and Corporate Development Priorities Survey Results from Frost & Sullivan
by Vikrant Gandhi 15 Mar 2012
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With the recent $321 million acquisition of Amobee by SingTel, mobile advertising has one again been in the news. Let’s explore the history a bit to understand how mobile advertising became a multi-billion dollar opportunity (and valuations of mobile advertising companies increased so dramatically). Frost & Sullivan has tracked the Global mobile advertising market since 2003, when mobile penetration rates were less than 50 percent; mobile Internet was still “WAP” (wireless Internet protocol), and mobile data revenues were only a tiny fraction of what they are today. There were hardly any mobile video services and mobile advertising was synonymous with application-to-peer (A2P) messaging. Clearly, we have come a long way since 2003. In this piece, I will discuss the evolution of mobile advertising while my next blog will focus on the emergence of Private Mobile Advertising Exchanges in the U.S. market. Mobile Advertising – A Historical Perspective Ad networks – such as Third Screen Media (acquired by AOL) , AdMob (acquired by Google) and GreyStripe (now a division of ValueClick) – and leading publishers were the early movers in mobile advertising. Display advertising was largely confined to mobile Internet (or WAP). There was some in-application advertising as well (thanks to efforts by industry participants such as GreyStripe); however, the app revolution did not truly materialize until Smartphones came along. In 2006 and 2007, Tier-I mobile operators such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint became early adopters of on-deck display mobile advertising. Operator inventory was sold at a premium, with hundreds of millions of ad impressions served every quarter in the on-deck WAP environment. The mobile advertising industry – in its quest to maximize the revenue opportunity – also witnessed the emergence of ad network “aggregators” and ad mediation layers. These aggregators basically accumulated remnant (as well as some premium) inventory both from ad networks as well as individual publishers and in turn sold it - usually on a pay-per-click basis - to advertisers. Ad aggregators represented huge amounts of inventory – billions of ad impressions were served every month – yet that somehow did not consistently translate into high revenue streams due to certain limitations of the mobile channel – including absence of cookies and lack of third-party reporting and analytics. Some of these issues were addressed by the emergence of Smartphones. Devices such as the iPhone and various versions of Android devices started to generate strong usage of mobile data services. Suddenly, there was a glut of inventory – industry participants were struggling to generate high fill rates and mobile inventory was at a risk of losing its “premium” status. Industry fragmentation, lack of transparency, and inability to deliver a consistent advertising experience across different mobile data channels (with lack of aggregated reporting) were some additional reasons for this drop in ad rates. Industry participants continued to seek ways to overcome some of these challenges by delivering a differentiated, richer advertising experience on mobile phones. Many industry participants started to work together to develop an ecosystem that leverages the best practices and strengths of each member to deliver an improved advertising experience. For example, Crisp Media (known earlier as Crisp Wireless) partnered with Jumptap in 2010 to deliver rich media ads ad campaigns across the Jumptap network. However, lack of true standardization in mobile advertising remained an issue, and In late 2010, leading mobile advertising industry participants such as Crisp Media, The Weather Channel, and TringAppsannounced the Open Rich Media Mobile Advertising (ORMMA) initiative to address the existing industry fragmentation challenges and simplify the serving of rich media ads into mobile apps by creating an open standard and a set of industry best practices. Current State of the Industry Today, mobile advertising solution providers are increasingly required to integrate with existing publisher-side ad servers. This is done to manage the communication between 1) first-party and third-party ad servers in online and mobile and, 2) ad networks, agencies, ad mediation layers, and other participants in the value chain. Over the past three years, the mobile advertising landscape has become relatively more complex due to the diminishing boundaries between online and mobile advertising. Eventually, the distinction between “online” and “mobile” advertising will cease to exist for most campaigns, and advertisers will be able to plan, execute, and measure results for their campaigns seamlessly across the online and mobile environments. Demand side platforms (DSP), an important element in the online ad buying process, will increasingly be used for mobile buying as well. Similar to the online trend of DSPs being integrated into multiple ad networks and exchanges, mobile-only or mobile-enabled DSPs will be integrated with multiple ad networks and ad-bidding platforms for mobile. However, device and operating system fragmentation is a challenge here due to disparate technologies and ad serving protocols being used for rich media ads in mobile. Frost & Sullivan expects the mobile real-time bidding (RTB) ecosystem to evolve gradually and support a majority of rich media ads in future. For that to happen, the industry has to agree on a set of standards to enable rich media ads to be displayed across multiple ad destinations seamlessly. Only then should we expect the DSP and RTB side of the mobile advertising ecosystem to truly emerge as the key enablers of rich media advertising in mobile. With that said, existing industry participants (such as Nexage) that are focused on enabling a mobile real-time bidding platform continue to serve billions of impressions every month in the United States and are now compliant with standards such as ORMMA and Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) that allow them to deliver ad campaigns across different destinations in mobile. In my next blog, I will talk about mobile private exchanges and how these exchanges will become important for the growth of mobile advertising. Here is the link to our most recent study on the U.S. mobile advertising market.
by Roopam Jain 15 Mar 2012
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Avaya-Radvision acquisition rumors have been flying for months so it was barely a surprise when Avaya finally pulled the trigger and announced this morning that it is buying Radvision for $230 million. Avaya is paying about three times Radvision’s annual sales of $78 million in 2011. We see this as a technology acquisition that was a long time in the making after Avaya’s competition has clearly entrenched itself in the videoconferencing market. Avaya offers a full portfolio of UC products but has been lacking in what is one of the fastest growing collaboration markets today – videoconferencing. Particularly after Cisco’s acquisition of Tandberg and Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, Avaya was placed in a position where it was missing a key piece of the collaboration puzzle. While Avaya has been selling partner solutions from LifeSize and Polycom and offers its own desktop video solutions, this move places it in the middle of all the action in a multi-billion dollar enterprise videoconferencing space which grew at 22% in 2011, according to Frost & Sullivan’s latest research. Radvision in return will get a new home that it desperately needed after Cisco’s acquisition of Tandberg resulted in fallout for its OEM partnership, which at one point accounted for a whopping 35 to 40 percent of its revenues. Having followed Radvision for years now, I had long ago reached the conclusion that its strength lies in its engineering and a well rounded product line but it could only go so far without a strong marketing and distribution channel backbone. With a fledgling channel strategy, particularly in North America, Radvision remains a distant player to market leaders Cisco and Polycom. In fact in recent years Radvision has been surpassed by stronger and relatively newer companies like Vidyo (co-founded and led by ex-Radvision Ofer Shapiro) and LifeSize and fast growing APAC vendors like Huawei. What Radvision lacked in marketing acumen and reach can now be made up by Avaya with its established UC channel network as well as a strong DevConnect community, Avaya’s developer ecosystem. Radvision offers a full suite of videoconferencing endpoints and infrastructure products for room-based, desktop and mobile video applications. From a product line perspective, the acquisition will be complementary with little overlap. - Radvision’s Scopia videoconferencing products will enhance Avaya’s core UC capabilities integrating into the Aura architecture, allowing single user experience for multimodal communications over multiple media endpoints. - Avaya will also gain a platform in mobile video in a market that has been transformed by the strong emergence of video over tablets and smartphones. Radvision’s Scopia Mobile platform offers HD videoconferencing over iPhones and iPads and could add capabilities to Avaya’s Flare experience. Scopia Mobile is not available on Android yet. Avaya had originally introduced Flare over Android OS and recently extended it to iPad. Combined, these two solutions could open up interesting possibilities for a wide array of 3rd party mobile video apps. - Radvision’s recent products have been particularly targeted at the SMB space which will provide inroads to Avaya to penetrate new segments. - The acquisition will also offer Avaya opportunities in Europe where Radvision’s acquisition of Aethra has resulted in established channels and rapidly developing partnerships with leading service providers. According to our latest research, Radvision holds a market share of 2.2% of a $2.7 billion videoconferencing endpoints and infrastructure systems market. While Avaya is not gaining a significant market player like Cisco did with the Tandberg and WebEx acquisitions, this move is strategic to Avaya. It makes Avaya a serious contender in the end-to-end collaboration markets where it can now offer a complete solution to its customers. It would be interesting to see if other UC vendors that do not yet own the videoconferencing piece will follow suit and move from a partner-friendly approach to a more self sufficient collaboration strategy. Anyone who uses videoconferencing today knows that the technology continues to face interoperability challenges. As a result, customers have shown a strong preference for end- to-end solutions from a single vendor. Both strategically as well as from a technology point of view, it places Avaya in a stronger position when competing head on with Cisco and Microsoft (which closely partners with Polycom for video). This is not a customer acquisition or a market share growth move by any means but a technology acquisition that will strengthen Avaya’s collaboration product portfolio. Moreover, as Avaya is preparing for its IPO, Radvision adds the highly valued video collaboration piece to its portfolio that positions it well in the eyes of investors. Avaya’s three phase integration plan- starting with basic integration between Avaya and Radvision’s SIP and H.323 stacks followed by tighter integration of Radvision products with Avaya Session Manager and Avaya Aura and finally full integration of user interfaces - will take several months. However, Avaya is known for its nimble execution when it comes to integrating acquired companies into its fold. The videoconferencing market, dominated today by Cisco and Polycom with a combined market share of over 75%, will have another large player to contend with. At the same time, Avaya has a challenging road ahead since both Cisco and Polycom have deep roots in videoconferencing through advanced product lines and strong channel and partner relations. Cisco announced this morning that it will buy NDS group for about $5 billion to accelerate its Videoscape platform. Cisco’s video vision in enterprise markets extends beyond videoconferencing to pervasive video through web presence, learning management systems, streaming, digital signage, surveillance, and video enabled smart boards. Bottom-line is that video collaboration in general is growing to become a key piece of business activities today. With the acquisition of Radvision, Avaya can further tighten its grip on the enterprise communications and collaboration market.
by Chris Rodriguez 13 Mar 2012
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“Dude, you’re getting a SonicWALL!” On Tuesday, March 13, 2012, Dell announced its plan to acquire a leading vendor in the Unified Threat Management (UTM) market, SonicWALL. This will allow Dell to rapidly advance its security portfolio with the addition of next generation firewall, intrusion prevention (IPS) capabilities, SSL VPN, gateway anti-virus, anti-spyware, and content filtering. Dell’s previous foray into the network security industry was its acquisition of managed security services provider (MSSP) SecureWorks and vulnerability/patch management vendor KACE. The acquisition provides a number of growth opportunities for SonicWALL. First and foremost, this enables SonicWALL to leverage Dell’s vast and mature channel partner program. This also provides SonicWALL with stronger economic stability and name brand recognition from Dell. Additionally, stronger financial backing will facilitate new product development. These factors will help SonicWALL to increase its penetration in the enterprise market, which has been a central focus for many UTM vendors’ growth strategies. As a result, Dell SonicWALL can potentially shake up the UTM market as we know it. Further still, this announcement is additional evidence of the convergence of IT and security. The goal to achieve “built-in” security has been demonstrated by the acquisition activities of Cisco, Juniper, IBM, and HP, and was most evident with Intel’s acquisition of McAfee. Fortinet, who has been the market leader in UTM sales for multiple years, has excelled due to its product quality and ongoing product development. Check Point has a highly competitive strategy for the UTM market that focuses on modular solutions. This makes every firewall sale a potential future UTM sale. Both companies have demonstrated solid financial growth in recent years. However, Check Point and Fortinet are also some of the last large dedicated network infrastructure security companies. So the big question is: how long will stand-alone security vendors find success with “security-only” strategies? At what point will enterprise organizations determine that they should be purchasing security solutions from their IT provider? Can security ever truly be “built-in” considering the constantly evolving nature of network-based threats? ***** Industry Analyst Chris Rodriguez can be found knee deep in spreadsheets or e-mailed here. For additional analysis of this market, check out Frost & Sullivan’s annual global market study entitled Analysis of the Unified Threat Management (UTM) Market and the Impact of Convergence or learn more about Network Security.
by Rob Arnold 08 Mar 2012
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Just before the turn of the New Year my colleague Roopam Jain (@Roopamjain) and I published a research report forecasting the adoption of software-based desktop videoconferencing among enterprise users. Login to read it here: Global Desktop Videoconferencing Market. For the purposes of this report, Frost & Sullivan defines desktop videoconferencing applications as those that utilize software clients provisioned to PC or Mac computers. Such solutions include desktop videoconferencing applications that are integrated with broader unified communications and Web conferencing software, and purpose-built solutions. Purpose-built desktop videoconferencing applications may leverage client-server architectures (optionally including gateways, MCUs or other infrastructure), or be implemented as software-based solutions. The scope did not include: Prosumer solutions, such as Skype; hardware-based endpoints such as executive videoconferencing endpoints, personal systems and video-enabled IP phones; or software clients provisioned to smartphones and tablets). All of these endpoints are covered in other Frost & Sullivan studies. Several dozen developers and service providers, and approximately 200 enterprise decision makers users (many of them as part of our annual UC&C investment decisions survey) contributed to our study. During the course of our interviews with leading developers a number of trends emerged. Mobile is huge. A majority of customers and prospects are seeking to improve collaboration with mobile staff, to circumvent or reduce infrastructure upgrade requirements, and to augment fixed desktop station equipment via videoconferencing solutions smartphones and tablets as endpoints. Scalable Video Coding (SVC) is being positioned as the panacea to reduce the bandwidth costs required to support real-time video communications solutions. However, there is still much work to be done in terms of SVC standards maturity and uniform adoption across different developers. HD is expanding the use cases for videoconferencing. Higher resolution not only enhances the user experience, but the crisper/clearer images greatly improve the reliability and accuracy of remote diagnosis, trouble-shooting, demonstrations, and more. There is increased demand for B2B capabilities as companies look to strengthen relationships and improve collaboration with customers and partners, as well as to increase utilization of their videoconferencing technology investments for faster ROI. Prosumer solutions (such as Skype, iChat, etc) are helping business users become more comfortable with videoconferencing. These experiences are helping to drive demand for more reliable, scalable and feature-rich solutions in the business place. Enterprise-grade applications delivered from the cloud hold great promise to lower the barriers of adoption. Reduced risk, upfront cost and ongoing management/maintenance responsibilities offered by cloud-based services alleviate many of the traditional restraints of videoconferencing deployment by enterprises. From a demand perspective we determined that the drivers and restraints vary to a certain degree by industry, size and location of the organization as well as its business culture and the demographics of its workforce. Overall, the top drivers for adoption are cost reduction (travel avoidance, carbon offsets, etc) and the need to improve collaboration among distributed staff. The overall primary restraints are the unclear ROI for many types of organizations and the network upgrades required to support real-time video communications. In our data collection we determined that purpose-built software clients account for only a small portion of the total installed base of desktop videoconferencing software clients. In fact, most business users today and in the future will access desktop videoconferencing as part of their web conferencing or unified communications solution. Takeaway: desktop videoconferencing is now and will continue to be an important component of broader, tightly integrated communications solutions.
by Jake Wengroff 02 Mar 2012
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This blogpost was first published on Social Media Today. ============================= Opened with much fanfare in December 2010, the Social Media Listening Command Center inside the Dell campus in Round Rock, Texas, of which I received a personalized tour last week, provided for an interesting peek inside the social media operations of one of the largest technology companies in the world. The social media initiative is parsed into three separate but related initiatives: S.O.S.: Social Operations and Service, which resolves nearly 2,000 customer service issues per week via social media, with an impressive 35% conversion rate. SMaC: Social Media and Community, which is the bulk of the team, providing social media guidance for the rest of the company primarily through certification and training of employees. Currently, 3,297 of Dell’s 103,300 employees are certified by ‘SMaC U’, or the Social Media and Community University that administers courses that provide guidance and oversight on utilizing social media on the job at Dell. Four courses are needed for certification. Command Center: The operation in which 12 full-time employees across the globe monitor real-time social data in 11 languages. But beyond the numbers -- I was feverishly trying to remember everything our tour guide, Amy, was saying, because there are no printed materials for the press -- I wanted to learn more about any changes, surprises, lessons learned, or insights which Dell has experienced in the year in which the company has operated the Social Media Center. In the tour, and then later through a meeting with Richard Binhammer, Dell’s Director of Social Media and Community, here’s what I came up with: Social media needs to be operationalized and pervasive. Besides the dedicated social media team, individual sales and product groups are encouraged to use social media -- to monitor what is being said on the social networks and also to be trained to officially communicate and represent the company socially. As such, no single department is completely responsible for social media at Dell. There is a central team which monitors activity, trains employees, and crunches data, but the entire company is encouraged to harness the medium to do their jobs better. Use a good monitoring vendor, but also create your own analytics mashup. Dell is proud of its social media listening and monitoring provider, Radian6, which clearly has one of the most scalable, robust products (and happens to be only one of 4 companies that subscribes to the entire Twitter firehose). However, even with a strong analytics partner, Dell admits that it had to build some proprietary software to track sentiment, especially as it drills down among consumer and various enterprise segments. Indeed, even for a social media operation the size of Dell’s, customization of monitoring software -- to glean unique insights -- is important. Sales are just one measure of ROI, but shouldn’t be the only thing tracked (or celebrated). One of my last questions of the day was asking Binhammer, ‘So, how’s @DellOutlet doing?’ I was referring to a wildly successful Twitter campaign in which it became known in social media circles that a single Twitter handle at a large, Fortune 500 corporation was solely responsible for millions of dollars in sales. This was close to 3 years ago, but I still remember Dell being the poster child for ‘social media ROI’ -- a company that could map hard dollars to social media. Rather than sounding as excited as I was, Binhammer quickly noted that measuring Twitter success as merely a ‘cash register’ is ill-advised; Twitter traffic also leads to heightened awareness and additional traffic back to the main Dell.com homepage, in addition to sales. With a more robust social media presence since 2009, and continued inventory swings at the Dell Outlet, the company has actually stopped tracking separate sales for the @DellOutlet Twitter handle. This clearly was refreshing for me, for as an analyst, as I am continually being asked to speak about social media ROI. If Dell, could see past pure sales figures as a measure of success -- and less than 30% of Dell’s revenues are from consumers -- then there is hope for other companies as well. I hope to return to Dell later on this year for additional social media insights. Stay tuned.
by Rufus Connell 02 Mar 2012
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I just spent the week in San Francisco at the RSA 2012 security event. All the usual suspects in the security arena were in attendance. It seemed to me that the #1 theme of the show was the issues around bring your own device (BYOD). Enterprise end users are doing everything they can to be productive, and that has lead to buying their own phones, tablets and applications to get their job done. Security professionals are scared as hell about the risks of corporate data moving to unmanaged devices. Every security company is looking for a solution to let employees BYOD while insulating the corporation from risk. Ironically, I've been using a Blackberry Playbook for a few months now. I actually carried it around the RSA show floor to show customers Frost & Sullivan’s video capabilities. It did that well. Blackberry has bet a lot of time, effort and focus on this device and the hard work is evident in the finished product. Blackberry markets the Playbook as an enterprise tablet, and the hardware is really well done. When the Playbook was first launched, my initial reaction was that the lack of a native e-mail client was "Stupid". I was flat out wrong. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Playbook is the Blackberry Bridge. Supporting a breadth of devices is expensive. Employees running around with huge amounts of corporate information on their personal device, then leaving it at Gourmet Haus Stadt, Cava22, or any other bar is a security nightmare. RIM has figured out a way to solve that problem. RIM has designed the Blackberry Bridge so it can tie a Playbook to a corporate managed blackberry smart phone. A users that buys itself a Playbook simply installs the bridge application on their smartphone, then takes a picture of a quick response code displayed on the Playbook and the devices are linked. Apple is eating everyone's lunch in the IT world largely because all their device "just work" together. RIM has emulated that perfectly, Playbook and my Bold just work. The process can be further simplified if BES administrators push the bridge application out to all their users proactively. We recommend that BES administrators push the bridge application to all their Blackberry smart phone users. BES Administrators should make it easy for their users to BYOD a Playbook. We feel that tablet users on a Playbook are much less of a security risk than users with another brand of tablet doing enterprise tasks. Why do we say that? Once a Playbook is linked to a Blackberry smartphone with the Bridge application, all e-mail, files, or other corporate data that is accessed through the Bridge is stored in an encrypted partition of the Playbook. If the user loses the Playbook, but doesn't lose their phone, whomever has the Playbook cannot access the corporate data. If the user loses both the phone and the Playbook, the BES administrator can use the BES tools to disable the phone, and by proxy disable any access to the corporate data on the Playbook. Its the kind of IT elegance that makes administrators happy. It’s the kind of security that lets corporate risk officers sleep at night. Unfortunately the Playbook isn't without its blemishes. It does a lot of enterprise tasks that I want to do, browse the web, show customers presentations at trade shows, play angry birds on a plane, but its lack of native enterprise apps becomes obvious very quickly. There aren't enterprise apps available for Frost & Sullivan's CRM system or other leading CRM systems. Major conferencing and collaboration vendors have native apps for iPad and in some cases android tablets. The business application category on the App World cupboard is quite bare. RIM is at a critical crossroads right now, they can't make many more missteps. Additionally RIM has some very strong application development capabilities. We see developers 1st writing for iOS, then Android, then rarely for Playbook. With RIM's focus on enterprise, it may be a good strategy for RIM to develop certain key enterprise applications on its own and give those apps to the relevant stakeholders. Playbook OS 2.0 was released just before RSA, but the Blackberry Bridge has been solving RSA 2012’s biggest issue for over a year now. To reiterate, Bridge just works. Bridge solves one of enterprise’s biggest problems of the day. Blackberry lets users BYOD, without creating undue risk. Administrators should want end users to BYOD the playbook. The ball is now in RIM’s court to make end users want to BYOD the playbook.