In closing his ITEXPO Austin keynote speech this morning, ShoreTel CEO Peter Blackmore borrowed the phrase popularized by former Intel executive Andy Grove.
“Only the paranoid survive,” said Blackmore, who added that in the unified communications industry that sentiment “is very very relevant.”
During Blackmore’s talk at the TMC event in Austin, Texas, he talked about how various product categories evolve with the new S-Curve. One example, he said, is sales force automation. It started with PC-based solutions ACT! and Goldmine. Then corporate enterprise solutions from Microsoft, Oracle and Siebel came on the market. And, more recently, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce.com, and Siebel CRM OnDemand have arrived on the scene.
“If you look at our industry, something similar is happening,” he went on to say of the UC space.
First in the market were traditional PBX vendors Alcatel, Avaya, Nortel and Siemens. Then Avaya, Cisco, ShoreTel and others introduced IP PBXs. And now you have an environment in which you have both traditional PBX vendors as well as a whole raft of cloud vendors, and new players like Microsoft, entering the UC space, he said.
It’s a very fast-changing market, he added, and one that will cause some vendors to move away from the UC space and that will result in other vendors leaving the premises-based UC solutions space in the next couple years. However, he added, ShoreTel will not be one of them.
“Yes there are two ways of providing a [UC] service to a customer, but they are one market, not two markets,” he said.
Blackmore during his speech also talked about how the cloud, SIP trunking, smartphones and the BYOD trend, and virtualization are the key technologies that are driving change in our industry and in the business space at large. The rise in customer expectations created by Apple and the iPhone, he added, has prompted a new push around customer experience and making solutions like desk phones simple and intuitive.
That said, he suggested that the three keys to success that will differentiate the winners from the losers in the UC space are user focus (which encompasses GUI, video as part of the UC paradigm, and interoperability and integration with other solutions and software); mobility; and the cloud and SaaS model.
“We are going to move faster than ever before because we want to seize the opportunity,” said Blackmore.
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