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AudioCodes at Enterprise Connect 2016

Today, Tomorrow, and In-Between: Skype for Business Observations with Fortune 50 companies

On my flight back to Israel from Enterprise Connect 2016 at Orlando, I decided to recap my top 3 observations about Skype for Business from spending time with some of our largest customers.  During the show, I sat down with one of the world’s largest energy companies, one of the biggest pharma producers, and one huge food maker that feeds us. They all deploy Lync/SfB and they all shared the following views.

AudioCodes at Enterprise Connect 2016

A vision is not enough

“Yeah, I get what Microsoft is trying to do with CloudPBX, but…” was a common amongst them.  Seems the “Everything Cloud” vision is compelling when left described by 2 words only.  Numerous caveats are observed:

  • How do I gradually migrate there? Because overnight replacement of a great number of PBX’s serving x0000s of users is clearly not an option.
  • Do I really want to relinquish control of all my users to a Front-End server that is hosted by Microsoft? I understand Microsoft is racing Google and wants as many Enterprise users on their cloud as possible, but is that good for my company, or just for Microsoft? Can I customize to preserve my competitive enterprise edge?

Show me the money savings

Microsoft seems to have correctly identified that the heavy monthly costs of conferencing services is something these enterprises love to cut.  Offering simple, hop on/off services right within SfB, with intuitive integration into Outlook is clearly a compelling proposition.  However, if I am going to send all my global voice traffic to the cloud for conferencing, I must guarantee excellent voice quality and experience.  Getting this done requires costly MPLS infrastructure.  How do I calculate the actual cost or savings by moving to the cloud?  Overall, it seems Microsoft still hasn’t convinced these customers that the TCO through the cloud offering and on a global level, is a favorable one.

Old habits are hard to break

A clean, wire-free workspace with voice, video and chat integration, and slick “click to everything”.  Nirvana!

There are a few “Buts”…

Not all of the employees easily say goodbye to their phones and switch over to headsets.  Nor are they proving responsible to own a small and expensive wireless ear piece, without losing or taking it out of their pants before washing. The bigger “over the head” headsets annoy some of the users, and it seems most “Born before 1980” are used to transferring a call by a push of a button, and hate reaching out to their computer for that.  Last, but not least, it seems a great number of the international markets associate a desk phone with seniority and status.  Seems the IP Phone is going to be with us for a good number of years to come.

 

Read more

CloudBond 365 gradual migration to CloudPBX

VoIPerfect less-MPLS solution for resilient, quality-assured VoIP

AudioCodes IP Phones with IT management tools for SfB

TheVia Group

Enterprise Connect – Partner Day

Day 2 of Enterprise Connect was a day for partner meetings – getting to know the various systems integrators and reseller partners that are supporting Microsoft and AudioCodes.

First stop was a visit with Chris Riggenbach, UC Team Lead at NACR.   Chris is responsible for the strategy and technical lead for UC solutions that include Microsoft and a number of other software vendors.   As a large national partner, NACR has a unique capability to support large geographically diverse businesses and offer complex solutions to improve collaboration and communications efficiencies with services and solutions.

Bob IT hero visiting NACR

Another stop along my day was visiting with The Via Group, a full-service partner based in Houston.   As an early adopter of AudioCodes One Box 365, they’ve crafted a complete bundled solution for business that includes services, devices and connectivity, bought using a OPEX model that makes buying easy.   The Via Group is also working with One Source Networks solution, a cloud based data and voice communications solution that can deliver services globally.

Bob IT hero visiting The Via Group

My final stop for the day was looking into contact center solutions for my Lync deployment with a visit to Acqueon, who have AiQ a Lync-integrated multi-channel contact center offering that supports quality management along with both inbound and outbound traffic.

Bob IT hero visiting Acqueon

Looking forward to Wednesday and the keynotes from Microsoft and Google. Be sure to check back again tomorrow!

Super Bob visiting Enterprise Connect

Enterprise Connect Kicks Off with Big News

Day 1 of Enterprise Connect is now done, with plenty to share.

Super Bob visiting Enterprise Connect

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Enterprise Connect (previously operating as VoiceCon), which was the theme for many of social and networking events during the show. A real testament to the need for fresh information on communications solutions (which have changed dramatically over the last 25 years).

Skype for BusinessMicrosoft formally unveiled their Skype for Business brand and client offering, showing a number of work environments and end-point devices in their booth. Front and center was the AudioCodes 440Hd IP Phone, showing its presence display and one-button calling.

Big news from Interactive Intelligence as they used the event to launch their PureCloud offering, a complete integrated collaboration solution based on WebRTC and hosted in the cloud. Most notable was a ground-breaking offer that included PureCloud Collaborate for FREE.

Had a great visit with Scott Francis from King County – a peer of mine and end-customer of AudioCodes that has deployed Microsoft infrastructure, offering UC services to improve the efficiency of county government. He’s a Superhero in his own IT responsibilities!

Visiting the show floor, I started my rounds of checking in with some of the partners that offer Lync and Skype for Business solutions. I started with a visit the folks from Ronco Communications, who were showing their Verapresence solution, an enhancement to Microsoft Lync that adds a number of important call management features including announcement, attendant, and call alerting features.

Looking forward to Tuesday, expecting more detailed discussions with partners, keynotes and time in some of the individual sessions. Be sure to check back again tomorrow!

Super Bob

Enterprise Connect – Through the Eyes of Bob

I’m really excited to be attending my first-ever Enterprise Connect in Orlando this next week.   From looking at the vendor list and sessions, it should be one of the biggest showcases of Unified Communications solutions this year and a great place to see the latest new solutions for my growing business.

Super BobRumor has it that Microsoft (booth # 1221) is going BIG with their launch of the new Skype for Business client and server software, taking Lync to the next level. Their booth and sessions are a “must see” on my list.  Zig Serafin, Corporate Vice President, Skype Business Services at Microsoft is the keynote speaker on Wednesday, March 18th from 10-10:30.  I’ll be there watching and listening intently.

After Microsoft (and it looks like right across the aisle), I’m really looking forward to visit AudioCodes to see their solution pavilion and demonstrations.  With offerings for my desktop users, the server room, my NOC and branch offices, the complete One Voice portfolio has served me well.  My understanding is they will be showing their One Box 365 complete solution including managed IP Phones.   I also hear from a reliable source that they’ll be showing a WebRTC to Lync integration, allowing users to share a URL to initiate a WebRTC call to Lync from their browser, avoiding the painful Lync browser plug-ins.

A number of great Microsoft and AudioCodes partners will be there as well, including NACR (booth #1805), SPS (booth #1531), The Via Group (booth #2012), and others.   The challenge is making the rounds and remembering everything in the few days I’ll be at the show.

The folks at AudioCodes have really flattered me with an invitation for a personal appearance in their booth and some cool tee shirts and other goodies with my likeness on them.  Stop in to their booth, snap a picture with me and you’ll go home with some cool swag.   If you are more interested in winning a new Surface 3 Pro, be sure to enter their Passport to Skype for Business drawing.

But I won’t keep all the great stuff to myself, I’ll be blogging and tweeting during the event, showing the best new solutions and snapping some pictures.  Keep an eye on #AUDCHERO on Twitter and be sure to check back to this blog every morning during the entire Enterprise Connect event.

After the event is over, you can always check in weekly as my accomplishments are regularly posted on my landing page at:  http://online.audiocodes.com/super-bob

Super Bob

An Introduction to an IT Superhero

One of the great parts of my job is seeing first hand many of the incredible things our end-customers and partners do to bring the power of UC and contact centers to businesses.   Full Lync voice deployments, remote employees, integrated voice mail, SIP trunking and more…virtually all of the projects improve end-user productivity and reduce operating costs.  We feature many of these incredible projects in written and video case studies, but not all of our customers can get past their own or corporate “stage fright” and don’t want to see their name put in the spotlight.  In other cases, the solution is a small effort with much larger implications – the kind of accomplishment that just doesn’t fit the typical case study.

At the same time, it has become clear to us that most of the decision makers in our customer base are bombarded by marketing messages – a drumbeat of whitepapers, webinars and case studies to the point where they all start to look alike.  How can we get our customers accomplishments to stand out amongst all the other noise?

During our annual market summit, held in our headquarters office in Tel Aviv, we did some brainstorming on the issue – trying to find a way to put a spotlight on our partners and end-customers.   And from this, an idea was hatched to create a character that is an amalgam of all the great things that our partners and end-customers have been able to accomplish.  In a creative and graphic way that jumps out from the typical case study, it was decided we needed an IT super-hero.

And with that, we here at AudioCodes are proud to introduce you to Robert Sipman (you can call him Bob if you like) and his comic strip “The Adventures of Super Bob”.  Bob is a regular IT guy that using the tools at his disposal can do some pretty superhero-like things (well, for an IT guy).   For the next few months, we’ll be releasing weekly episodes showing one of the feats that Super Bob has accomplished while on the job.

Super Bob

The real twist come from the source of his adventures – many of his acts are based on real-world situations and stories that our customers have shared with us.  Some will be attributed, while others prefer to remain hidden behind the mask of anonymity. Be sure to follow along – who knows, you may recognize yourself in one of the episodes.

And if you are lucky enough to be headed to Enterprise Connect during March 16-18th, you’ll get a chance to meet Bob at the AudioCodes booth #1129.  Bob can be a little shy, but he’s generous and will be handing out “I met Bob” tee shirts and other goodies during the event – be sure to stop in and snap a selfie with Bob.