This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.
One of the more interesting parts of the annual Cisco Live event is the “World of Solutions” exhibit hall. This is where many of Cisco’s vendor partners exhibit their wares and try to sell their products to the massive Cisco install base. Although the Analyst Relations team at Cisco didn’t give me that much time to walk the show floor I did find time to see a few of the vendors, one of which stood out for its unique approach.
ISI Telemanagement Solutions had a booth at the show it shared with VOSS Solutions and demonstrated what they called a UC Business Analytics Solution (UC-BAS). For those who don’t know these two companies, ISI provides cost management software for voice, data, wireless and UC. VOSS is one of the UC “middleware” vendors that provides design, configuration and management solutions for UC solutions, including the red hot Cisco Hosted Collaboration Service (HCS).
The joint solution, UC-BAS, attempts to provide business analytics to try and measure the value of UC, which has historically been a difficult, if not impossible thing to measure. In fact, one of the analyst roundtables I attended was on the ROI of collaboration and the primary take away from that was that the ROI is unique to each company and measuring the value had to be done almost on a case-by-case basis. The UC-BAS solution attempts to measure this by understanding who uses what tools and how often. Companies can use this to determine how the UC applications should be rolled out to its user base.
UC is certainly not a one size fits all technology, meaning no organization is going to give every user access every UC application. That would be a significant waste of money since the company would be paying for licenses for software that sits idle. So how should an organization decide? Well, what if decision makers had a rich dashboard that tracked the consumption and utilization of UC applications and could use that as a way of understanding how to prioritize the roll out of UC? What if the same tool could help understand which devices are being used? What do they cost? What is being spent on related third-party applications? How should costs be allocated? That would certainly help IT organizations understand the user population and where to prioritize spending. Well, that’s exactly the kind of functionality that the VOSS-ISS UC-BAS solution delivers.
This solution also helps enable BYOD, one of the most talked-about issues in IT today. With BYOD, users will be bringing a number of different devices into the workplace and then swapping them out regularly for the next best thing. To combat this, many organizations are looking to use some kind of “app store” software distribution model to allow workers to get the applications themselves.
UC-BAS can provide the necessary business analytics to help understand which users should have which applications based on usage patterns. Additionally, UC itself is continually evolving with more and more applications becoming communications enabled. This causes IT leaders to make quick decisions on usage and licensing of these applications. Again, the analytic capabilities of UC-BAS can help with this process.
The VOSS-ISS solution certainly isn’t the Holy Grail for measuring UC value but I think it’s a great way for organizations to at least understand how UC is being used. That’s markedly better than anything most companies have had before.