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Cisco and Microsoft, don’t settle on being a bit better than the other guy. The goal should be to dominate UC like you both do in other markets.

Last month, Michelle Burbick authored this post regarding Cisco and Microsoft’s position in the unified communications space. The blog references some research done by Synergy Research Group that shows Cisco having a narrow 0.2% lead in market share (16% versus 15.8%). Shortly after this report came out, Cisco actually posted its own internal blog beating its chest that it had retaken the #1 spot in the collaboration market. This after Microsoft had previously put out some research claiming they were number #1 in the prior quarter. It’s worth noting that the market Synergy measured is actually a super-set of many markets including voice, UC applications, video, email, telepresence and other markets.

While the marketing folks at Cisco and Microsoft like to proclaim their #1-ness, I have a message to both of them–You’re both #2! Both Cisco and Microsoft have historically dominated their markets to the point where their share of things like routers, desktop operating systems, switches, and e-mail systems are almost monopolies.

Moving from “aggregated communications,” to truly Unified Communications.

This week, Cisco’s GM of collaboration, Rowan Trollope, issued a blog announcing a major update to the company’s popular WebEx product. Given the market leading position that WebEx holds, one may wonder, why fix something that isn’t broken? WebEx currently hosts over 15 million meetings per month, which consumes over 3 billion minutes per month. With that kind of usage, why upset the apple cart?

The reason is that despite the success of WebEx, the product is fundamentally flawed. It’s not just a WebEx issue, but something the whole industry deals with. Enterprise Web, audio and video conferencing platforms have been developed in silos and the technology has remained that way since its inception. These silos of communications have prevented us from having true unified communications.

I had discussed this with Rowan Trollope at Cisco Live earlier this year, and his feeling was that we really had, at best, “aggregated communications” and were far from fulfilling the vision of UC. During his keynote, he also was pretty matter-of-fact that Cisco (and all the other vendors) have made UC way too hard to deploy and use.

Cisco has significantly expanded its partner ecosystem, added new offerings and put some money up to help with the adoption of the services.

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of 80s music. One of my favorite bands of that era was Split Enz, who performed a song called “One Step Ahead”. While the song was written in the 80s, it was very forward looking, as the song was about keeping ahead in the cloud race. In fact, if you listen carefully, there’s an alternate track that goes something like:

“One step ahead of you
Stay in motion, keep an open platform
Cloud is a race won by a multitude
Your service, my fabric”

To say cloud is hot is as gross an understatement as saying that Bears QB Jay Cutler is overpaid. The red hot cloud market has created a race, as every major IT vendor, systems integrator, network operator and cloud pure-play has been bolstering their cloud services and looking to get a leg up on the competition.

The release of the Acme Packet 1100 opens the addressable market for Oracle to play small ball and go after a group of customers and locations that it could not have before.

The term “small ball” is used in baseball to describe a team that wins by doing lots of little things well. Historically, teams wait for the big inning or look for the one big swing that wins them the game. Small ball can be just as effective, though, for those that have the strategy and patience to execute. (If you’re from overseas and you’re not familiar with baseball, just know it’s a way more entertaining version of cricket with no tea served in the middle.)

In the UC space, Oracle, via its Acme Packet acquisition, has been a company that relied on swinging for the fences to grow its business. The company makes session border controllers and management tools for large enterprises and service providers. Because of this, Oracle tends to have larger deals, meaning the company typically plays long ball.

Next week is Oracle OpenWorld, and the big news is that Larry Ellison is stepping down as CEO and moving into more of an engineering role. However, there will be lots of other news from the show, including Oracle announcing the release of Acme Packet 1100 – an enterprise session border controller (E-SBC) focused on small to mid-size businesses as well as branch offices of larger organizations. The release of the 1100 opens the addressable market for Oracle to play small ball and go after a group of customers and locations that it could not have before.

Unify made the comment that “Virtual teams are taking over but there’s still work to be done.” I couldn’t agree more.

As I do most mornings, I woke up on a recent morning up and checked my Twitter feed. It’s interesting how things change. Years ago, I used to wake up and call into my voice mail, then it switched to checking email and now Twitter has become my main focus area. Sure there was the overnight mumbo jumbo about general news but there was also this interesting graphic that Unify published.

In the tweet Unify made the comment that “Virtual teams are taking over but there’s still work to be done.” I couldn’t agree more. Often when I’m speaking with IT leaders or even workers about remote working, there’s a feeling that remote working is a panacea to all business challenges. You get to hire the best talent regardless of location, there are no office expenses and the employee should be eternally grateful to work for such a progressive and awesome company that supports remote working. The other points that are taken as gospel is that remote workers can be as productive or even more productive than in-office employees, and virtual teams work just as effectively as in-person teams. We’re all professionals, right?

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