Should Proponents Be Optimistic or Pessimistic About FMC and UC?

Carl Weinschenk

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post suggesting that fixed mobile convergence is progressing reasonably well. I was able to point to a couple of announcements, a case study by OnRelay with positive findings, and an Infonetics Research study that suggested the category is on the upswing.


The headline and first paragraph of this Network World piece contradict that cautious optimism. A careful reading of the piece suggests that there is a general sense of agreement, however, that the sector is holding its own. The Network World writer says that companies like the idea of FMC, and would deploy more widely if a higher proportion of the various pieces of the network were mature.


In the second part of the feature, the writer describes several workarounds organizations can use to achieve some FMC functionality. There is, however, no reason to say that these approaches aren't themselves examples of FMC, since the category-like most nascent technology platforms-has a rather fluid definition. Some companies seem to be waiting until the technology settles a bit while others are jumping in. There is plenty of activity in the sector.


However, this post probably would not be considered good news by vendors of FMC equipment and services. The blogger suggests that the best idea may be to simply put all corporate traffic over mobile infrastructure. He cites studies that say most calls made from enterprises go to mobile phones. He doesn't cite the source, but the numbers are interesting: 60 percent of outgoing calls go to mobile numbers, 31 percent to fixed line, and 9 percent to internal extensions. This suggests that people are using cell phones even when both they and the person they are calling are inside the enterprise. The blogger says that the need to include the "fixed" in "fixed mobile convergence" may be fading.


Two of the most common buzzwords of the past few years-unified communications (UC) and FMC-are deeply connected. In its purest form, UC is the ability of any person to be tracked down and brought into a communications session regardless of what device he or she is using and what type of network they are on. There are many ways to achieve UC or, at least, UC light. FMC can play a central role in these efforts. http://www.ucstrategies.com/unified-communications-strategies-views/answering-more-unified-communications-questions-from-voicecon.aspx?gnid=13846


United Communications Strategies' Blair Pleasant does a good job of explaining the tie between UC and FMC as she reviews the presentation she made at VoiceCon in San Francisco last month. Pleasant suggests that careful use of FMC can bring full UC functionality to people using wireless and mobile networks. This is significant: In today's mobile environment, limiting UC predominantly to wired offices goes a long way to defeating its purpose, since a good percentage of the people that are needed will only have access to wireless or cellular networks.


UC and FMC proponents have little to worry about. Little, that is, besides the economy, the fact that the platforms they are pushing are complex, and that their acceptance flies in the face of organizations' natural tendency to stand pat.


Nobody anticipated the economic collapse, but the other two elements -- the need to fight inertia and fears of complexity -- were battles vendors knew they would have. The most important positive development is that the highest level concept -- that advanced telecommunications platforms make people available more of the time and give them more tools when they are found -- is finding increasing acceptance among a potential user base whose sophistication grows by the day.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 10, 2008 3:50 PM Mike England Mike England  says:
From an end user perspective it appears that a lot of organisations certainly within Europe are also seeing the close tie between UC and FMC. This is confirmed by the initial registration attendee data from the Unified Communications Expo event which takes place in London on 11 - 12 March 09, of which over 50% of pre-registered attendees have expressed an interest in both UC and FMC technologies. Reply
Dec 10, 2008 7:34 PM Ivar Ivar  says:
Carl,Guess it is worth making the point that we at OnRelay promote an FMC service where the cellular network is the key bearer of the traffic - we refer to this as Cellular FMC. The study you refer to is indeed based on our cellular -only based FMC product MBX.Having pioneered the Cellular FMC approach for a number of years we at OnRelay don't buy that VoWiFi is a necessary FMC component required to tightly integrate mobile phones with the fixed line PBX network. The costs and complexities of building and maintaining a private wireless network do e.g. in Europe not stack up against the far more hardware efficient alternative of using the public cellular network as a PBX access network for mobile phones. Reply
Dec 18, 2008 8:36 PM Garrett Smith Garrett Smith  says:
I would say that optimistic and pessimistic are both the wrong terms - proponents need to be realistic.User habits take time to change - regardless of how advance or fast a technology is coming to market.Users don't care a lick about half the crap that comes out in these spaces - because it asks them to radically change their habits. Ever try to break a habit? It's pretty tough, right?Same thing applies to users and technologies. Eventually they start using it - but it happens slowly. The more "we" push - the more they resist.UC and FMC companies should be focused on smaller, more watered down offerings and gradually add functionality - only after the user has adopted the first "changes."Otherwise, we will be having these debates until the end of time. Reply

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