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11:16 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans

Global CIO: Cisco's Top 10 Predictions Intriguing But Lack Context

A top Cisco voice exec's views aren't startling but should give CIOs plenty to think about.

Like many IT vendors, Cisco is betting heavily that tech-starved enterprise CIOs, who've been on quarter-rations for the past 18 months and might be showing signs of malnutrition, are getting ready to fatten up a bit in 2010 to be able to hold down opportunities unavailable to their competitors.

Cisco Voice Technology Group senior vice-president Barry O'Sullivan predicts in a bylined column on xchangemag.com that "the enterprise unified communications market will see a modest recovery in spending from last year, as a large number of organizations are rekindling unified communications and collaboration initiatives." O'Sullivan goes on to say that those companies believe unified communications and collaboration tools can "improve their team's productivity and tighten their relationships with their global employees, partners, suppliers and customers."

While O'Sullivan's list of 10 major predictions is intriguing, it also represents one of the big reasons many companies remain lukewarm on UC and collaboration: it fails to speak specifically about business problems that UC can help solve and revenue opportunities that UC can help create.

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For all of the promise and potential UC and collaboration hold, they remain in some ways peripheral to many CIOs' core IT strategies because they are too often discussed in narrow contexts devoid of enterprisewide context and lacking in specific discussions of business value and customer value. O'Sullivan's predictions would have been much more powerful had he included at the end of each prediction two sentences beginning with these phrases:

1) "This is important to overall enterprise IT strategy because it . . . ."

2) "This will help you engage more productively with customers by . . . ."

So let's get to O'Sullivan's Top 10 list and I'll try to suggest for each some of that missing context—and again, you can see O'Sullivan's full xchangemag.com column here.

1. Enterprise Collaboration Suites Converge. Today’s disparate text (IM, email, social software), voice (telephony) and video (desktop, room-based and telepresence) solutions begin to converge this year." If this convergence happens, what apps can be chucked out? How many servers can be sent to the glue factory? How will this convergence help companies pounce more quickly on opportunities?

2. Video Goes Mainstream. Many organizations will maintain reduced travel budgets by investing in and promoting the use of a variety of real-time, high-definition video solutions, as well as on-demand offerings. What's the projected ROI on those investments? Sure, it's nice to think about lower travel costs, but if I'm going to have to spend more on fancy new video stuff than I would have on travel, what's the use? And give me some context: how many businesses out there (my customers, partners, and suppliers) currently have such equipment—or will I be creating my own video-echo chamber? In fact, you address some of this in your next prediction:

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