This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

Prescriptions for Cisco, Microsoft, Polycom, Unify, Mitel, and Huawei.

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2014! It’s time for all of us to make some New Year’s resolutions and stick to them! For example, Alex Rodriguez probably resolved to lay off the steroids. Larry Ellison, I’m sure, made a resolution to not blow off his own keynote again this year. I think if we checked in with Miley Cyrus, she’s made a resolution to twerk less…or maybe more since it seemed to have re-ignited her career. For the UC industry though, there are a number of resolutions that I would like to see vendors make:

* Cisco and Microsoft resolve to make interoperability easier. There has been no greater battle to watch in UC than Cisco and Microsoft butting heads. Sometimes though, two enemies partnering together just might create a force stronger than two individuals. Remember when Randy “Macho Man” Savage partnered with Hulk Hogan, and the “Madness met the Mania?” Has there ever been a stronger tag-team combination? Or in the recent Star Trek-Into Darkness, when Kirk and Khan teamed up to defeat Admiral Marcus, they did so because of their combined strength.

Customers want both Cisco and Microsoft; and attaining true, seamless and easy interoperability (CUCI Lync doesn’t count) between Cisco and Microsoft would put both companies in a position to dominate the market even more than they already do today.

* Mitel resolves to stay active with M&A and buys Magor. In 2013, Mitel added contact center functionality when it acquired its partner PrarieFyre. The company then purchased Aastra to add some channel and gain some market share. In 2014, the company should add video to its portfolio by acquiring its neighbor and fellow Terry Matthews company, Magor. Magor has excellent technology and lacks a channel. Mitel has a channel but not video. Seems like a good fit.

* Avaya resolves to double the resources allocated to DevConnect. Maybe doubling the resources is a bit too much, but it’s a little like saying “I resolve to run every day.” It’s nice to say, but not realistic. The main point is that Avaya should step on the gas with respect to DevConnect. Feedback on the new Aura Collaboration Environment (ACE) has been great and the structure of the product allows Avaya to finally attract developers that don’t require deep telephony expertise. Now that it has this advantage, the company should do what it can to grow the base of developers as fast as it can and aggressively promote all the third-party applications. How about a DevConnect conference that’s open to analysts and media?

* Polycom resolves to disrupt itself in 2014. Contrary to what many think, video isn’t dead. In fact, the video industry is thriving and healthier than it has ever been. The reason we haven’t seen it show up that way in the numbers that are reported from the box-counting analyst firms is because those firms are counting different things. Organizations today are spending more on video software clients, cloud services and the consulting services required to deploy video.

For Polycom, this means one of two things–fight the tide and die a long, slow painful death; or embrace change, go through some short term pain and then come out a stronger company with a market-leading position. If you look at Polycom’s activity over the past couple of years, they’re clearly doing the latter, as they’ve acquired some consulting skills, taken the covers off of CloudAxis, developed virtual products, and the company finally has a viable cloud platform. This year, Polycom should jump into these new areas with both feet and shake up the market. Success in these emerging areas will drive more hardware sales as organizations look to make video a company-wide resource.

* Unify resolves to disproportionally grow sales and marketing in the US. Siemens Enterprise had always been one of “the other guys” when it comes to U.S. market share. Last year, the company went through a significant facelift with a new flagship product, Ansible, and a new company name, Unify. If Unify wants to parlay this into U.S. success, it needs to step up and commit some significant resources into becoming a preferred U.S. brand. Of all the segments around the globe, the U.S. is particularly brand-driven, and it’s time for Unify to do the hard work and make its brand one people know.

* Huawei makes a resolution to clarify its position in the US. From a buyer’s perspective, there’s no vendor out there that has more confusion around it than Huawei. As Katy Perry sings, “they’re in and they’re out, they’re up and they’re down….” Well which is it? Are you serious about the U.S. market or not? If you are, then stop letting the rest of the industry speak for you, and tell us you’re here. Let’s see some case studies and customer wins. Huawei certainly has the portfolio and resources to legitimize themselves as a U.S. vendor, and the company now needs to make the decision as to whether it wants to be or not.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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