A commentary-more accurately, an omission in a commentary -- from a Gartner analyst halfway around the world is worthy of note.
Computerworld reports that Nick Jones, an analyst for the firm, left unified communications off his top 10 list of strategic priorities for 2010. Jones' rationale, according to the story, is that UC is not strategic and has been slow to evolve. (For the record, Jones' top 10 were various implementations of cloud computing, virtualization, client computing, green IT, mobility, advanced analytics, "social software and social computing," flash memory, user monitoring for security and reshaping the data center.)
The story includes a counter-argument from Frost & Sullivan analyst Audrey William, who still sees a prime role for UC. William says that UC's ability to synchronize communications makes it capable of providing positive ROI. The Australian UC market, the piece points out, had an estimated value of $608.7 million last year, the highest amount ever.
There may not be much of a real disagreement here. Jones may be referring to the expansive tool chest of gear that comprises UC, and William to their alignment into a UC fabric.
Frost & Sullivan seems to be making that distinction internally. The Frost & Sullivan: Australia Unified Communications Market Report 2009 -- released in July -- predicted a 4.1 percent decline in the Australian UC market this year due to the poor economy and other factors. However, the losses were expected to be quickly recouped, with the category jumping from $868.6 in 2008 to $1 billion in 2012. The report focuses on the need for special integration expertise as the building blocks are put in place and the complex connections between them made. The press release looks at how the various segments of UC will shape up, and suggests that mobile UC is becoming a key tool for businesses.
The firm makes no mention of a decline in its look at UC services, however, in The Frost & Sullivan:Australia Unified Communications Services Report 2009 . The report says that UC in Australia reached a total estimated value of $608.7 million in Australian dollars, which is about $548 million in U.S. dollars. That was a record high.
The bottom line is that the folks Down Under, like much of the rest of the world, still are trying to classify UC. That isn't surprising, since many of the analytical organizations and vendors, not to mention the core issues, are the same.
On one hand, equipment rises and falls according to its usefulness, the vagaries of the economy and other factors. On the other hand, there are services-efforts to knit the gear together in a UC fabric-that succeed or fail somewhat independently, at least in the short term, of the equipment itself. Analysts must specify which they are discussing, and refrain from suggesting that comments on how either is doing is a comment on the overall health of UC.