Although VoiceCon Orlando 2008 offered tutorials, forums, and presentations on telecom topics ranging from IP telephony to next-gen contact centers, unified communications (UC) seemed to be the topic on everyone's mind. And, if you judged the conference's focus by its keynote presentations, UC won hands down.
During his opening remarks on Monday, Fred Knight, GM/Co-Chair of VoiceCon, told the audience that:
1. UC improves personal productivity and transforms business processes.
2. UC will increase the decentralization of communication networks.
3. UC changes what you buy and for whom.
Of the five conference keynotes on Monday and Tuesday, three focused exclusively on UC.
Louis D'Ambrosio, President and CEO, Avaya, urged conference attendees to focus on their customers through "the democratization of unified communications" — providing UC not just to the elite few, but the entire organization with IT governing the new democracy. D'Ambrosio explained Avaya's three UC offerings — a role-based solution, a branch solution for banks, and a system for retail stores.
Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate VP, Unified Communications Group, Microsoft, shared a vision for UC built around interoperability, integration, and impact (and Office Communication Server of course).
Michael Rhodin, General Manager, Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software, IBM, emphasized the need for UC solutions to be built on open, extensible platforms, such as IBM Lotus Sametime. Rhodin also stressed IBM's commitment to keeping an open mind about how UC technology will evolve. To illustrate this point, he provided an interesting demonstration of Sametime integrated with a 3D virtual environment created with new partner Forterra.
In the next few days, I'll be posting more about the UC offerings from each of these vendors and sharing more highlights from VoiceCon Orlando 2008.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.