I had the opportunity to speak to an audience of IT executives today, hosted by InformationWeek Events and Siemens Communications. As part of the morning''s presentations, Michael Lewis, Siemens VP and Area GM, Federal Solutions Business Unit, made some remarks-and they were refreshing, coming from a provider in the UC space. Here are a few highlights:
- Mike noted that we are in the middle of the hype cycle with UC, comparing it to where we were with VoIP at the turn of the century. At the end of the day, he said, VoIP delivers "nominal" savings in the area of 10 to 20 percent. "Nothing to sneeze at," as he said, but nothing compared to the hype you heard in the early aughts. This is not new to new technology-ERP, supply chains, and many others have received similar treatment. And now we''re seeing the same overhyped claims made around UC. What Mike rightfully notes is that while UC can certainly save companies money, that''s not where the real value lies.Mike expects hosted and/or managed services to be appealing in tough economic times, not just to cut out Capex, but also because it is so flexible as employee numbers fall (and, hopefully, eventually rise).
- Mike noted that "proprietary standards" is one of the great oxymorons in the industry. True that. Siemens gets props from me for having one of the most open UC systems on the market.
- Mike discussed a new Siemens customer, a Federal agency in the standards arena that is losing a large percentage of its workforce to retirement. Given the knowledge-intense nature of the "business," the agency wanted to keep those veterans for as long as possible-and so it moved to a teleworker strategy that would allow them to work from home. The retiring staffers wanted the freedom (and loss of commuting) that comes with telework; the agency didn''t lose its intellectual property. And UC is making it all possible. Other examples covered companies that have moved from 100-person pilots to thousands of enterprise users in a matter of months.