The annual ITSPA bash went ahead yesterday. Numbers were down a little, I suspect because of the encroachment of the holiday period. However once the formal proceedings were over we had a great set of panel debates and a talk from VoIPWatch blogger Andy Abramson.
I was down to moderate the Unified Communications panel. However due to illness I was stitched up with moderating the SME panel as well. This worked out ok because I was in two minds in the first place which one to go for. Timico’s sweet spot is SME but the sexy market leading stuff is Unified Comms (for the SME market in Timico’s caseJ ).
Interestingly of the fifty or so attendees the four panellists (Steve Mackenzie of ICU Global, Andy Abramson, Andrew Penn of Siemens Enterprise, Tony Cocks of Microsoft) and myself represented 5/6 of the organisations in the room involved with UC. I therefore invited Mark Owen of Nortel up to the stage to fill a spare chair and take part in the debate.
The fact that there were no other ITSPA members claiming to offer UC services is interesting. They are either offering straight dial tone products as is the case with the likes of Tesco and Orange Home (they may disagree with me) or are in the PBX replacement business.
There is an argument that says that the business market doesn’t want UC. However my take on this is that demand for UC is just about to take off as environmental and financial pressures come to the fore.
Key takes from the day?
Some big SIP trunk deals happening – one company was spending £50k a month on call traffic with one ITSP.
Microsoft is launching a hosted version of OCS and is looking to locate one of its servers in Ireland. This is a direct service being launched by Microsoft. Not a partner play. Obviously the concern is that Microsoft’s marketing dollars can heavily influence their market share here. However after some debate the team came to the conclusion that this is an opportunity. Microsoft will make the market but a substantial number of customers will not want to deal with the big behemoth.
Also when it comes to selling communications to the SME market, which is a substantial chunk of the opportunity in the hosted space, customers like the direct touch. They need the confidence of knowing that they can trust their supplier and know who to call when they have a problem. Accessing support via an anonymous call centre won’t work for everyone.