The Virtuous CIO  

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March 2, 2011 — Enterprise Connect Day 3

The day started off with an interesting presentation on licensing aspects related to the major UC vendors. In a word, Unified Communication licenses are complex and expensive. A keynote from Microsoft highlighting their Lync UC product was tantalizing, the demo almost worked. The presenter did a good job of masking his problems.

It's now easy to come to the conclusion that Unified Communications is a technology that has arrived. The fundamental concepts and structures are in place and work. The features are rapidly settling in and maturing. The big question which continues to nag at me is the needs of business. We are seeing a lot of great products with exciting features which do wonderful things. But it doesn't seem like business in general is demanding this technology. At some level, the web meetings, video conferences are penetrating the business space and providing wonderful savings over T&E. But is this something we want to put on every employee's desktop?

For many knowledge workers, the answer is clearly yes. But, will the introduction of this technology drive the rest of the non-knowledge-workers out of the office? Will this be a good thing? The world continually drives forward towards the ultimate consequences of Internet technology. Will we even be able to conduct business in this environment?

This is not a Luddite attitude. At least I hope it's not. We have the habit of introducing new technology into business without thinking about how to manage it. For business to survive over the next decade, it is becoming mandatory to figure this out before we put it in place. People have no problems adopting new technology, particularly the Millennials. The the consequence of unmanaged change is chaos.

Now that I have vented on one concern, let me flip the vinyl LP over and play the other side. Could the money, time, and effort invested in these Unified Communication products be ultimately wasted? It seems like rather than adopting these formal business tools, people go out and find the quick, free, easy tools. Rather than adopting corporate tools like SameTime, Lync and other UC tools, people are grabbing Facebook, Skype, and Google Apps. The corporate enterprise and its vendors end up chasing the trends.

I've posed some questions here and do not necessarily see clear answers. I propose to spend several weeks exploring this on the blog.