Blog archive - January 2012
Use the blog to discuss and comment on the latest industry insights provided by our analyst experts.
by Rob Arnold 27 Jan 2012
Avaya announced this week the global availability of Flare Communicator for iPad. The solution makes the Avaya Flare software experience (Avaya Aura UC&C applications) available from iPad. In addition to the Avaya Desktop Video Device (ADVD), iPad is now the second endpoint with such capabilities in Avaya’s lineup. Avaya Flare Communicator is available via download from the Apple Apps Store and can be connected to Avaya Aura infrastructure (on Release 6 and higher) via a $100 client access license. Although Avaya reports fine traction for ADVD sales (specific shipment numbers are under non-disclosure) the new development is a natural progression for the company as it embraces the “bring your own device” (BYOD) phenomenon that is taking the enterprise communications market by storm. On the same day this week Apple reported its Q4 2011 results, which delivered its highest ever quarterly revenue and earnings. With respect to iPad, the company beat most industry expectations by selling 15.4 million of the devices in the quarter, more than double the number sold in Q4 2010 and 39% more than Q3 2011. While competitors are making some gains, no one single device maker can hold a candle to iPad’s market share dominance in the burgeoning tablet sector. As a result, enterprise software developers are making their efforts to support the market leading iPad a top objective. By focusing first on iPad, Avaya appropriately prioritized its support for Flare Communicator on third-party devices. The development gives Avaya a strong dual-pronged approach to accommodate the majority of users who want to utilize tablets as their business communications endpoint. With Flare Communicator for iPad, Avaya appeals to the masses of users wanting the flexibility of utilizing the $500 Apple tablet for both business and personal reasons along with access to native iOS features and the Apple Apps Store. For its part, ADVD is designed from the ground up specifically for tight integration and support for the full range of Avaya’s real-time voice, video and data communications apps (in fact a greater range than yet supported on iPad, such as videoconferencing). Available at a street price of around $2,000, ADVD users can access Android Marketplace apps for download (at the enterprise administrators discretion), and it is also lock-down device with enterprise-grade security, QoS, management, warranty and service support. Avaya plans to support Windows and Mac next as it works to make the Flare Experience available this year to an even greater range of users and use cases. It is, however, somewhat ironic that no time table is set for Avaya to release Flare Communicator for Android since ADVD is based on Android version 2.2, Froyo. Avaya spokespersons state that the company will wait for Android fragmentation issues to settle out some more in the market, and will likely support third-party Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, devices once that version of the OS has matures, is more widely adopted, and as device front runners become more apparent. A plethora of UC&C vendors have flocked to deliver support for their enterprise apps on iPad, particularly since iPad 2 was released last year. Among others, examples include: Cisco’s recent WebEx support; videoconferencing clients from Polycom and RADVISION; IBM’s Sametime client. We expect the announcements from UC&C vendors to keep flowing – a fact that will probably take some of the shine and excitement away from Avaya’s accomplishments. Nonetheless, all of this is undoubtedly nothing but good news for Apple, which intends to introduce iPad 3 in several months. Frost & Sullivan research estimates that tablets sold primarily for use in business context will reach nearly 17 million devices this year, with that number expected to more than triple by 2015 at over 51 million devices. The BYOD phenomenon is real and shows no signs of slowing down.
by Francisco Rizzo 26 Jan 2012
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Within the ICT team at Frost & Sullivan we often like to debate issues that pertain to the different markets we cover. It’s always good to get someone else’s perspective – especially if that person covers a market that has some relation to your field of expertise. This week the topic was fixed-to-mobile convergence (FMC), more specifically next-generation FMC solutions. What began as a discussion on next-generation features and capabilities, quickly turned into a reflection on the importance of single-number reach – today and in a hypothetical mobile-only world. It started with a roadmap, and then a question: what do you think? The first stage belongs to the basic PBX to mobile extensions, which still are the most popular types of FMC/Mobile UC clients utilized today. The second stage are what we call Advanced FMC clients, and the emergence of middle wares that allows for additional FMC/Mobile UC functionality, including presence, IM, audio conferencing, unified messaging, and dual-mode voice call handoff. Today, however, we are starting to witness a third wave of next-generation FMC/Mobile UC clients, which include video capabilities and social and collaborative tools. Basically, while advanced FMC solutions mostly involved "data-centric" types of communications, next-generation FMC client will be more video-centric. These next-generation mobile UC clients could also have additional characteristics such as optimization for tablets, richer thin or Web-based user interfaces, and integration with cloud-based environments, among others. Alaa Saayed, Senior Industry Analyst and ICT Team Leader, Frost & Sullivan ------------------------------------------------------ I agree with the progression of FMC shown in the chart. It would be interesting to get a timeline of Next-gen FMC that includes advanced mobile video capabilities. Current mobile extensions (both for video and web collaboration) offer limited capabilities and several of them are not truly optimized for mobile devices. Roopam Jain,Industry Director – Conferencing and Collaboration, Frost & Sullivan ------------------------------------------------------ In your various stages you start with "Single Number Reach" across the board. I believe "Single Number Reach" refers to the following scenario: I have one phone number and when someone calls it my office desk phone, my mobile phone, my laptop softphone, and my home office phone all ring simultaneously. This is an important feature today. I would argue that going forward, executives in particular, and many professionals will only have a mobile phone and they will no longer have a desktop phone and/or a traditional landline at their home office. I would follow that argument, that if you only have a mobile phone, you don't need single number reach because you only really have one device anyway. I guess that executives will likely still have a mobile phone, and a tablet. They will also have a laptop, but I'm not sure that they will run a softphone on it. What's the point if your mobile device can make calls over the same WiFi network as the laptop and the tablet has a big enough screen for video con? So long story short. Does "Single Number Reach" still have a place in your third or potentially 4th evolution? Rufus Connell, Vice President, Frost & Sullivan ------------------------------------------------------ I think of single-number reach as being important even in the world of mobile only, because any given user would still have two numbers (at least in theory): a cell number, given to him by the cellular provider, and an "office number," which is just a PBX extension (i.e. it might not ever ring to an actual phone). So it would seem important going forward. Also, single-number reach does not have to mean simultaneous ring; it can mean "ring on the device I am using," which means that people can leverage it to take business calls on their home phones, whether those are landlines or personal cells. Melanie Turek, VP Research Enterprise, Communications & Collaboration ------------------------------------------------------ Re: single number reach, "world" is the key word. Business users on international travel may find it much more cost effective to route calls to whatever location they are working from. Least cost routing is a key component of single number reach. Since no one wants to carry two phones, there's also the concept of identities. That means having a business persona and a personal persona from a single device. The device knows which identity to convey to far end-parties (i.e. which number is displayed to your spouse or customers when dialing them) and intelligently routes inbound calls per the current identity as well. Also, IMO dual mode is/was best suited to gain traction in consumer space first. People are ditching their land lines at home and everyone is getting smart phones. This is a good example of vendor driven tech that should have progressed naturally via consumerization of IT. Robert Arnold, Senior Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan ------------------------------------------------------ Hey Rob, Just an interesting aside. I was in India recently for 2 weeks. I was able to live my business life via my smartphone only on WiFi. There were definitely a couple of occasions where I wished I had data access when I couldn't get a WiFi connection, but I certainly wasn't handicapped. Rufus Connell, Vice President, Frost & Sullivan ------------------------------------------------------- Some quick comments on each one of your comments: Roopam – Video capabilities on mobile phones is an interesting topic – some consider it useless while others think it’s going to be a huge leap forward in collaboration. No matter what side of the line you stand, the reality is that every vendor is going to offer it on the grounds that “if I don’t my competitor will”. Rufus – I agree with the idea that everyone will eventually just have one device that serves as their mobile/work/home phone. It’s hard to say when (fixed-phone vendors are going to put up a fight), but stats seem to point out that we are moving in that direction. In a report presented to the FCC by the Technology Advisory Council (TAC), they pointed out - citing a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics - that as of May 2010, 23% of respondents in a study lived in a mobile-only household Melanie/Rob – I agree with your explanation on why single-number reach is still valid. I personally wouldn’t want my home number to be the same as my work number. Keeping in line with what Rufus said about having only one device, you could argue “if you have one device then why does it matter if your home and work number are the same – the end result is the same”. I disagree. I think it’s important to set boundaries, and this is why FMC solutions are so important. With today’s solutions you can set restrictions with regards to who can call you based on your location and time of day. So if I get home from the office I can program my cellphone to not receive business calls after 6pm. Cool feature. Francisco Rizzo, Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan --------------------------------------------------------- At Frost & Sullivan we regard mobility to be the most significant communications trend today in both the enterprise and consumer space. Whether you agree or not with the vision of a mobile-only world where fixed phones no longer exists, what’s undeniable is that the lines between professional and personal life are being blurred. FMC solutions are a huge leap forward in terms of optimizing communications and collaboration, and they are also necessary – through single-number reach features - in helping set boundaries between work and what happens after “9 to 5”. What do you think?
by Ben Ramirez 25 Jan 2012
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Recently, an online retail store called Zappos experienced an enormous cyber attack on January 16, 2012. A data breach occurred resulting in loss (or compromise) of twenty-four million customer names, e-mails, physical addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of credit card numbers. Although the incident only caused minimum monetary damage to the company in terms of intellectual property and private data, customer reputation and confidence towards the company’s e-commerce system is now lower than ever before. Investigators are still trying to piece together who is responsible for the attack, but this brings us to an important topic on the recent cyber attacks conducted by Anonymous, involving such major sites like the U.S. Department of Justice and Universal Music Group, the largest music record label in the United States. What does this mean in terms of security posture and infrastructure assurance for these hacked companies? Was complacency to blame for a faulty security system because executives felt there was no need for a security deployment? Did they feel that their sites had negligible information that did not justify a solid security deployment? Apparently, these organizations believed so and as a result, a swift cyber attack overwhelmed their sites and caused denial-of-service and data loss. The attack was called Operation Megaupload, created by the notorious hacker group Anonymous, a collective group of hackers held responsible for recent attacks on Amazon, Paypal, major credit card companies and even major government sites such as the FBI. The attack was considered retaliation in response to the U.S. government’s recent crackdown on Magaupload.com, a site which the federal government executed a huge piracy indictment towards the popular file hosting site. The FBI, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) were all targeted attacks by Anonymous. This is a major wakeup call for these organizations. Certainly, if confidential or private data is not truly an important reason to implement security controls, then public confidence and reputation should be a high priority to do so. It is understandable that capital budgets seems to be the main factor in executive decisions in not deploying a strategic security plan, but they must consider the monetary damage such as lawsuits, overwhelming customer calls (over 1 million calls were made in just one hour after the security incident was declared, causing significant costs in terms of productivity), and the difficulty of rebuilding customer trust. Anonymous doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon and others like them are inevitably following their footsteps. As a counter to these types of attacks, executives can purchase DDoS security products from various vendors. Arbor Networks has a long standing tradition in the anti-DDoS space, with a variety of products that can monitor and protect networks from DDoS attacks using real-time analysis in order to detect and mitigate these types of threats. Also, Prolexic is another, newer vendor that mitigates DDoS attacks by redirecting to a Prolexic filter or cleaner device, thereby allowing business continuity. Perhaps vulnerability assessments were not properly carried out. Maybe risk management underestimated the probability of occurring threats within their IT systems. Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain: Security assurance, awareness and preparation are extremely lacking in today’s IT infrastructure. Hackers are viewed to be one step ahead in comparison to existing security defenses, but if we’ve learned one thing from Anonymous and other hackers it is that we need to be just as competent, persistent and tenacious to keep abreast of the current threats in our chaotic cyber environment. We must recognize that security should not be taken lightly. It should be a top priority for every organization, especially those handling sensitive data. We must admit to the fact that we are not safe from anyone, anytime.
by Jake Wengroff 20 Jan 2012
This blogpost first appeared on Social Media Today. ============================ Lotusphere, the large business conference produced by IBM, kicked off in Orlando, Florida this week. The term and evangelism behind ‘social business’ was everywhere – and palpable. According to keynote speaker Alistair Rennie, General Manager of IBM’s Collaboration Solutions, social business is the application of social networking tools to culture and outcomes. ‘Social business is a competitive differentiator,’ he explained to the audience of 5,000. ‘It is not just deployment of new tools – it is a complete reinvention of the systems of the core in which businesses operate.’ One hour into the conference – following a speech by surprise guest Michael J. Fox – a demo of the re-designed IBM Connections productivity suite was delivered. More than a makeover of its Lotus Notes product, the experience offers completely integrated email, calendar, document management, and social updates delivered via an Activity Stream interface that integrates the basic set of productivity functions. Finally, I thought: A technology company with the resources to invest in social media gets it. Social Business, or Social Media? But IBM Connections looks a lot like Facebook or Google+, and no discussion of consumer social networks and how they might add value to the social enterprise was presented. While external applications such as a Twitter feed can be brought in to IBM Connections, the conference hardly touched upon the use cases of social media for marketing, communications, branding, or increasingly, for sales and customer service. As LinkedIn is considered the largest social network for business and professional use, with over 135 million users worldwide, it would have been valuable to hear from LinkedIn on how corporations can make themselves more social, ultimately driving overall value. Perhaps I was a bit different than the other analysts in attendance at Lotusphere: it was my first time at the event, and I do not cover the traditional unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) space. I cover social media primarily as it relates to marketing, measurement, and monitoring brand, and also am a social media practitioner: I manage Frost & Sullivan’s social media identities and train teams on effective use of social networking for our various business units. However, while UC&C has been around for quite some time – again, not my specialty – it is a rather interesting dynamic to see that industry and its set of tools adopting widespread social media elements into its platforms. I guess we can all thank Facebook for ‘consumerizing’ – and presenting in a novel, exciting, and compelling way – essentially what has been inside corporations for years. Huge Opportunity Yet the absence of consumer-facing social media and networks at Lotusphere should be viewed less of an indictment on IBM Software and other collaboration providers and more on the consumer social networks’ refusal to develop products and services that improve collaboration and productivity in the workplace. With social networks, including almighty Twitter, struggling to develop viable business models, why haven’t they considered building enterprise applications? I recall that LinkedIn once had an enterprise product, LinkedIn for Business, as recently as 2009, but information and banner ads for the product disappeared from the network close to 4 years ago. Twitter could also easily develop an enterprise product, in which a company can buy a version that presents all the tweets sent by employees and partners, that would include robust analytics – but it hasn’t, instead relying on Promoted Accounts, Tweets, and Trends, to make money. (Look for research from my group at Frost & Sullivan on social media business models later on this year.) As such, IBM might emerge the leader in the social media game. Tinkering Around IBM Connections was actually borne out of IBM’s own internal research labs, which intrigued me. I was fortunate enough to meet the IBM Connections Senior Product Manager Suzanne Livingston, who started out as a researcher of social technologies for enterprise business purposes nine years ago, and was part of the team that brought this product to light. This impressed me: from the lab to the client. Also, I had a chance to have a walk-through of a makeshift version of IBM Research’s Center for Social Business. While I’m not at liberty to divulge the names of the products they are developing (Irene Greif, the Center Director, informed the press and analysts that no photography or recording was allowed at any time inside the room), I fully expect that at least half will make their way to users’ desktops and mobile devices within the next two years. For innovation in social, I’m watching IBM, and so should you.
by Rob Arnold 20 Jan 2012
The answer is… not exactly. IBM has announced no plans to discontinue any of its current UC products or to end any of its partnerships with other UC providers. That said, the company is now devoting greater emphasis and resources toward other opportunities in the enterprise communications market. Since the early days of UC in the mid-2000’s IBM has presented Lotus Sametime as its flagship UC offering. The platform natively supports rich presence and instant messaging functions, tight integration with Lotus Notes, as well as web conferencing capabilities. In addition, through its partner ecosystem, IBM provides integrations with many other apps in the UC stack, namely telephony, audio conferencing, video conferencing, mobility applications, etc., and hardware endpoints in Sametime-based UC environments. Whether IBM’s lack of its own end-to-end portfolio of UC apps has hampered its competitiveness in the enterprise communications market is arguable. However, it is clear that the company has been overshadowed by Cisco and Microsoft in the UC space, in terms of mind share. Meanwhile newer and potentially very lucrative opportunities are emerging in the enterprise communications market. Driven by shifting business requirements, new technology and the consumerization of IT, the concept of the social enterprise has taken the enterprise communications industry by storm. IBM is well positioned to adjust its stance to be a strong competitor for this opportunity. Leveraging a greater breadth and depth of its strengths, IBM is now placing the bulk of its emphasis on social business. For IBM, UC has become a component or a subset of capabilities within social business environments. Sametime’s IM and presence applications are powering rich communications, mobile and real-time capabilities within IBM’s flagship next-gen collaboration platform, Connections. From Connections features/apps such as user profiles, contacts, communities, activity streams, directories, documents, micro-blogs and more, users can consume and publish presence/availability information, launch voice and video calls as well as multi-party, multi-media conferences driven by Sametime (as well as third-party UC platforms). The company intends to continue to enhance social business by embedding UC into advanced collaboration platforms, to improve communications through improved context, and to make rich communications available to users whenever and however required. Examples of potential future capabilities may include allowing Communities to own meeting rooms (whereas individuals typically do so now), and to make Sametime’s persistent and group chat features available within Connections. The intent is to create an environment where users spend their day, and improve their productivity and efficiency through the ability to quickly and intuitively access a range of business and IT tools, and rich communications and collaboration applications. And IBM plans to utilize analytics to raise awareness of and to prove out the benefits of social business solutions which are often difficult to qualify using traditional ROI measurements. IBM is effectively bringing to bear its content management, analytics, collaboration, SOA and other assets, along with its strong services capabilities and partner ecosystem to create social business solutions that empower change management and transform business processes. This is approach is creating clear differentiation for IBM—more than was possible in a purely UC-centric approach. And with the burgeoning social business opportunity, IBM is leveraging capabilities that provide it with clear advantages over others that are vying for a claim of the emerging space, including Cisco, Google, Jive, Microsoft, and others. IBM is not abandoning UC—the company is leveraging UC to enable social communications.