UC in the sky with dialers

Hello again!  It’s been a while since my last post and lots has happened in between.  I won’t go into detail except to say I’ve been flirting with twitter and facebook and sadly still can’t get away from that old relic known as e-mail.

Back to this post.  I’ve been thinking about Unified Communications and Cloud services in fact UCaaS to be specific.

As we all know, UC is a collection of communication tools that historically were siloed.  The telephone, Email, Voice Mail, IM, Video Conferencing and so on.  In the last couple of years and more so this year, we have seen a massive increase in Software as a Service…services targetted at the Enterprise with some very tempting benefits.  Some have made the move successfully whilst others need time to build trust to embrace the concept.  This is particularly true in the finance sector where concerns about security and location of data referenced against local regulations makes it all the more difficult to entertain a move from on-premise to the cloud.  I’m sure this will change over time as richer and more secure services become available and of course the economies of scale kick in and make it a no brainer.

Email and IM in the cloud is nothing new, as consumers, we have been doing it for years, but what about the other services that make up the UC pie? Well this is where I get to the point of this post.  Moving telephony into the cloud… telephony as a service. Nothing new except the providers in the market today are not the traditional Telco.

Look at Cisco, Microsoft, Google and many others who want to provide UCaaS.  To provide 100% UC aren’t they going to have to provide a dialer in the sky? Today, out of the three I mention Cisco are the only one capable of providing on premise Telephony integration into their Saas (WebEx Mail/Connect), but that’s obvious as they are incumbant for Enterprise telephony.  What if an Enterprise wanted to move their PBX off premise and integrate it into their cloud based Email, IM etc?  Will the current big name UCaaS… service providers become Telcos and be regulated as such?

Will Cisco, Microsoft, Google etc now be competing with the likes of BT, Verizon, Singtel, France Telecom and so on?

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Wikis – An open book.

I love this post by Mary Abraham on how wikis mess with your mind.  It’s absolutely true within an organisational culture.  I’ve experienced it and I too started off with apprehension that was quickly changed to addiction.  At my previous employer wikis took off albeit a little slowly, but nonetheless ahead of most of our competitors.  The success was simply down to sponsorship from the top down.  The benefits were immediate, the knowledge and the talent in the organisation was blown open and collaboration across teams grew organically or so it seemed.

Virtual teams were created in the content and grew over time.  The fact that people contributed through their own interests was culture changing.  We took it a stage further by integrating presence into the wiki with the goal of creating a tacit knowledge base; meaning that you had the ability to communicate in real-time with contributors to extend the collaboration.

I’m now working on creating a similar platform (or repeating the success) with presence everywhere, but the technology part is easy, the challenge now is to introduce the culture of an open book into the organisation where everyone can publish, search, consume and converse.  That sounds very similar to my old boss JP’s vision of Four Pillars.

Well of course, that’s the culture I supported.

Same old problems.

I remember back in the late 1990s I worked on a project for GE to deploy Microsoft Exchange. GE at the time made a corporate decision to deploy a single messaging platform throughout the globe to overcome what they saw as a business communication problem. They used the analogy of a representative from GE Plastics walking past the representative from GE Lighting in the corridors of General Motors or Chrysler not knowing that they were both working for the same company with the same client and not being able to share any information. They believed that working together Plastics and Lighting could benefit the customer as well as GE. The case was compelling and the sponsorship of a single messaging platform came from the top, it had Jack Welch’s buy-in!

Reading Andrew McAfee’s post today I was reminded of this age and it occurred to me that we are still trying to solve this problem but this time the technology is Enterprise 2.0 and the use of Wikis and Blogs in a bid to reduce the use of email.

His students responses, in my view, are right on the button and his dissection of the responses make perfect sense. They mention cases where Wikis and Blogs can improve the collaboration between diverse businesses and teams within many different organisations, they highlight how collaboration and knowledge sharing can improve business processes, but I still can’t help thinking that whilst technology is evolving and we have new problems to solve, we’ve not fixed the problems that existed all those years ago.

Looking at it from another point of view, maybe we are solving the problem, but in stages. Email was the first step, but we are far from finished.

Farewell 2007

It’s New Years Eve and this year for the first time in a long time, I’ve chosen to trade the pandemonium for tranquility. Is that a sign of the times (my times)? I feel that maybe I’m heading for that quiet time in life that some might even call retirement! Well rest assured, I am not in that space, although the past few months I’ve managed to grab a slice of what I perceive it will be and I have mixed feeling about that, but let’s not discuss that right now.

I made a decision in the summer that I would look to change the way I work, change the way I live and change the way I look at life.

I left my job at the bank, not to hop into another similar position, but to take a look from the outside-in and try to understand why, in this rapidly moving information age, I was experiencing that feeling of deja vu far too often, more often than ever before. I guess it’s what you might also call routine and some people are made for that, but I know that I’ve stuck around too long knowing that would happen, it’s called the comfort zone and I hate that.

I was part of an organisation that did well throughout the good times and the bad, even now in the current credit crisis we (they) have survived this year, of course there were losses, not huge in comparison, and not enough to hit the headlines resulting in casualties from the top down, for the time being anyway.

Each year, we focussed on the rising cost base and aim to reduce it through cuts only to reverse the process sometime through the year and inevitably practice the same cost cutting exercises at the same time of the following year. It begins to get boring year after year, and clearly no ability to stick to a strategy if there ever was one. Maybe this is a trend, but I see other organisations in the same competitive space making progress, where my peers are working towards a plan in a community that collaborates to reach the same goal, the same culture and ultimately successful results.

So, I’ve taken the decision to move on, as they say, and seek that opportunity that begs to evolve or move at the pace of change not by repeating the same rules, but by progressing and learning from those bad decisions and mistakes.

Here’s a prediction for 2008, now I’m no analyst (professionally) but I’m going to forecast that my previous employer is heading for an acquisition. They will be acquired. I see that in H2 2008. How can I say that? Well, whilst reviewing my employment history, I see that every organisation I’ve worked for has been acquired! Maybe they will change this tread that seems to follow me, but I doubt it, many analysts reports and articles I’ve read recently see that the latter half of 2008 will be an acquisition fair throughout, not just in the financial sector. Additionally prior to the sub-prime crisis in August, there were due diligence exercises being performed across the city, headliners such as ABN and Barclays, but some under the radar that luckily did not proceed.

There is a thought that I should stick around for this? It could be lucrative after all. Then again, I’ve been through a few and whilst they do bring a lucrative reward to some, what follows is pure frustration if you stick around. Ask the people at Bankers Trust who are still around in Deutsche Bank or those from Chase Manhattan who are still around at JP Morgan Chase, if they consider themselves part of the new merged organisation or still in a culture of the old, operating under an new name?

Of course this is a hot topic in my head right now, as I seek to find the next big thing. Considerations are to land myself in a new organisation, but one that aims to be acquired such as an innovative start-up firm or a large multi-national that will survive the years to come through their ability to evolve.

On another subject, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve reverted to religion not in a preaching sense, but like many people to simply practice my faith. Not something new for me being raised as a catholic, but I’ve found that going back to church has created a new avenue in my life that has called for me to believe in something and to have faith, it helps me to look at my life in a different perspective. It astounds me that I got this point just simply by going with the flow and following the routine, I call it a rut, but to me, I haven’t travelled very far in the last two years, I didn’t really have faith and I didn’t believe in myself because I think I felt defeated to some degree, but more often than not I felt I was simply in the wrong place, around the wrong people trying to achieve what I felt was right without the support and collaboration that is needed in a large organisation, if that makes sense. Of course I had achievements, but for me, these took too long and looking back (as you do), there really is no need. I’ve talked about pacing myself, but when no progress is made during lengthy periods, I cannot accept that and get paid for it.

I’ve come to the end of 2007 and suddenly I know so much more about myself. I am relaxed and I find that when I am relaxed I can think much more clearly and the thoughts are beginning to make sense. My weakness right now is my lack of concentration, but I’ve identified that and will work on that. I know my strength is my creativity (possibly not in my writings) and motivation is my ability to work with innovative people in a team that will make a difference.

Earlier today I played a gruelling game and a half of golf. During the game I thought to myself, golf is not supposed to be gruelling, why am I in this frame of mind? The gruelling part was indeed simply my perspective of the game. I began to relax, and enjoy the game as it should be played and surely enough in my positive frame of mind my shots were on target as I intended them to be. Later on in the game, I injured my foot (yes it can happen when you’re just walking!), and I although I was enjoying the game my thoughts switched to the pain and went downhill again, but I kept talking myself though it and learnt to work with the pain and surely enough my game came back and I began to enjoy it.

At home after golf today, my attention was drawn to one of my fish in the tank. It had been drifting on its side for a while, not constantly, but it was becoming more frequent. I’ve had this particular fish for about 4 years now, and, well, I can’t see it making it to 2008, but what I did notice, was that a younger much smaller fish, would occasionally swim into the drifter and they would swim around together for while until the smaller fish was diverted and the drifter would go back to drifting on it’s side. What I saw there I translated into me, sometimes I am can be the drifter, but also the smaller (notice I didn’t state younger) fish. I hate to see people fail and will push them to get the best out of themselves, and on the other side of the coin, I like to be pushed to. I saw emotions in a fish tank!

Maybe I have too much time on my hands 🙂

Well actually I have and I’ve decided to use it well. I’m going to work harder, I’m going to study further and to kick that off, I’m off to Singapore to visit my sister who has been in the region for nearly eighteen years and always visits me each year and I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been there. This time, I have no excuse. Besides, I really enjoy their company and I love the team spirit we exhibit when we get together and the intellectual motivation I get when we mix. Not something we can do right now on a social network, but I’m sure this will come in time. So that’s what I call enjoying hard work 😉

Time to conclude. To all my reader (not a typo) Have a great time tonight and I wish you a very successful 2008, farewell 2007.

Consumer meets Enterprise

I’ve written about the fact that many Web 2.0 applications out there in consumer land would be great in the Enterprise. Well, no sooner that those thoughts were published, I find that Worklight have or about to release a Facebook overlay for the Enterprise.

This is a big leap forward to adopting Web 2.0 within the enterprise. not wanting to go into the discussion of whether Facebook should be allowed from within the Enterprise, this product assumes that this is not an issue and looks to use Facebook as an Enterprise social network with all the security you would expect.

Secure sign-on into the application presents you with your corporate network in the same way you are presented with your private social network, but added to that, you are provided with corporate strength communications within the application. It uses the enterprise infrastructure within the application and outside the application it is raw Facebook.

Worklight Facebook

Help > About me…

Are resumes a thing of the past? Should we market ourselves through blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook?

Should we be updating these sites with our professional status?

“Mike is…completing the Enterprise Search Project under budget and on time….and seeing what’s next.”