When unified communications first appeared on the scene, there was a great deal of excitement across the business world – and understandably so. After all, this new technology seemed to offer tremendous promise for companies of all kinds, potentially improving performance and efficiency in a huge range of areas.
Yet some believe that in the years since UC's introduction to the mainstream, the technology has not delivered on its promise. Recently, a rather surprising name joined these naysayers: Kevin Kennedy, CEO of business communications giant Avaya.
Obviously, this is a bold statement for a UC purveyor to make. However, this does not mean that Kennedy is correct in his assessment. If anything, this just goes to show how much diversity there is in the UC space, and how some vendors may have come up short in their offerings but others have indeed made tremendous strides toward delivering UC's full potential.
Avaya and UC value
Kennedy made his comments during an interview with Information Age. In the course of this Q&A, the source asked Kennedy about his sector's experience with UC development, or lack thereof. In response, Kennedy sounded a pessimistic note.
"Unified communications has been the promise that has never been delivered for over a decade," said Kennedy, according to Information Age. "I actually think it's not going to be unified but people will still communicate – and they'll communicate on the outcomes, the import and export, and the integration things. But integration is a different statement than unified."
"Kennedy predicted that communications systems will become more integrated and open."
Kennedy went on to clarify that, in his mind, "unified" implies sameness. He saw this as suboptimal, and instead predicted that communications systems will become more integrated and open in the future.
"[U]nified is something that has been around for a long time but hasn't been delivered yet. That's why we need a new term called engagement," Kennedy told the source.
A company, not industry, shortcoming
Thanks to Kennedy's prominence in the world of UC, his words on the subject carry substantial weight. In his coverage of the interview, Fierce Enterprise Communications' Chris Talbot used the headline "Avaya CEO says UC promise never delivered." Talbot interpreted Kennedy's comments as "an admission that Avaya and other unified communications-focused vendors have failed to live up to their promises."
However, Talbot also asserted that it would be inaccurate to claim that UC is a failure as a whole.
"Kennedy's statement highlights Avaya's shortcomings, not the UC sector in general."
It is more fair, and accurate, to instead see Kennedy's statement as an admission of shortcomings on the part of Avaya specifically, rather than the UC sector in general – a point reinforced by Teo Technologies' own Director of Marketing and Business Development, Thomas Beck.
"I can agree that Avaya has never delivered on the promise of UC," said Beck. "However, Teo has been delivering on that promise since 2009. Admittedly, there are many large companies, such as Avaya, that pay lip service to UC yet have never delivered, and that has tarnished the perception of that word. If you want to see real UC in action, check out our site: www.teotech.com. A shameless plug, I admit. However, while Avaya has admitted failure here, it should by no means be taken as a failure of the promise of UC as a whole."
That really speaks to the heart of the matter. It's undoubtedly true that not every UC solution has proven as transformative as business users, customers and industry observers expected. But this is a solution-specific problem. In many cases, available UC systems have indeed delivered powerful, game-changing benefits. Teo Technology's UC offerings are a key case in point.