January 18, 2016

UC Success Depends Largely on 'Intelligent Communications'

When companies today think about Unified Communications (UC), they have a tendency to take a broad approach, figuring more is better. But all that bandwidth doesn’t do anyone any good unless it’s used intelligently. That’s where a company like Avotus comes in.

Avotus is an award-winning provider of Intelligent Communications Management (ICM) solutions, which enable users to optimize and manage their critical investments in telecom and technology. Basically, ICM is Avotus’ intelligent approach to managing wireline and wireless assets.

We were able to pose some questions to James Martino, CEO Avotus, ahead of next week’s ITEXPO Ft. Lauderdale. His insights give a clearer picture of the promise that UC – and ICM – hold for everyone:

TMC: Is technology changing business for the better?

James Martino: Technology improvements have led to huge growth in productivity, which helps businesses. On the other hand, Avotus’ whitepaper on Mitigating the Risks associated with UC deployments analyzes in detail the four major risks to the corporation associated with deployments, which are not mitigated with an enhanced usage reporting platform. I’ll be speaking about this on Tuesday (1/26) at the show. The more controversial question is whether all our technology developments have improved or hurt both the economy and the social fabric of our world.

TMC: Have we finally reached an inflection point with Unified Communications adoption?

JM: Yes, I think the inflection has begun. First, we are seeing that nobody is replacing a TDM switch with another TDM switch. It is all moving to VoIP. That helps the inflection point, as the market for VoIP phone systems is integrated with the market for UC. So, businesses might as well make the jump to full UC once they decide to retire the PBX.

TMC: When it comes to unified communications, do you believe it’s better to meet customers where they are (i.e., popular business applications like Salesforce, or social networks like LinkedIn) or to use your interface as the front-end and then do integrations with those popular applications?

JM: I think clients need to choose a platform for their internal business tools first. We are integrated with Cisco, Genband, Broadsoft, Avaya and Link. Those are the big UC platforms. I’m happy to help folks decide on what is best for them and how to implement it correctly. Then you can integrate your social media into your CRM and UC platforms. The link between UC and CRM’s is growing as well.

TMC: What is the biggest security threat currently facing businesses?

JM: IT departments spend millions building firewalls and email security, and it can all be bypassed with certain functions within most popular UC systems. I’m amazed by how many folks are not identifying that risk. File share, screen share, IM, etc., all pose liability exposure, loss of intellectual property, employee abuse and regulatory non-compliance.

TMC: Has corporate awareness of security threats increased over the past year? 

JM: It’s hard to go a day without reading about another major breach of government agencies or large corporations. I think the sensitivity is heightened but I don’t think the focus is always optimal. There is a great deal of focus on how to stop outsiders from penetrating the firewall, [but] there is way too little emphasis on ensuring against insider breaches, which could be both intentional and unintentional. Monitoring employee use of the full spectrum of UC paths is a critical component of any meaningful security system.

TMC: Should mobile devices have integrated software allowing for separation of business and personal apps and data?

JM: I think this helps in a BYOD environment for sure. Apps that do not allow corporate data to reside on the mobile device can be valuable, as it can at least allow IT to shut down access.

TMC: How is cloud computing shaking up your product and service offerings?

JM: Cloud solutions improve the speed of implementations and allow providers to easily update software. I think these services are especially important for companies seeking to sell to SMB’s, wherein the installation hurdle rate can be an impediment.

TMC: What big data and analytics tools are you using and why?  How is Big Data changing the way you conduct business?

JM: We recently announced our partnership with TrustSphere, which propels our Enhanced Usage Reporting (EUR) platform into the heart of the Big Data space. This deal validates Avotus’ vision of seeing the rich data-capture ability of EUR becoming a valuable hub for those delivering Big Data Analytics. With the TrustSphere Platinum product with EUR, clients can now analyze relationships within an organization and between employees and company vendors and clients in a useful way. EUR completed the puzzle for TrustSphere.

TMC: Are channel partners keeping up with the latest products and services, or is more training and education required?

JM: Training our partners’ sales teams is always a challenge. Sales people are very busy and their management wants them out selling so you really have to prove why it’s worth the investment in time to take your training.

TMC: What is the greatest challenge the channel is up against today?

JM: Moving to solution-based selling and becoming a consultant to your clients. It’s no longer a commodity game. Clients want to understand the solution you can deliver, sometimes using multiple vendor products.

TMC: What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO Ft. Lauderdale?

JM: I love walking the show floor and speaking to people. I’m passionate about our topic of mitigating risks in UC deployments and I’m looking forward to hopefully a large group wherein we can elevate this conversation.

TMC: Why should attendees come to your session?

JM: Simply, I do not believe that anyone should be implementing a UC system for themselves or a client without understanding these critical risks and mitigating them. It’s almost irresponsible to not discuss these security, regulatory compliance, abuse and liability risks with the end user. Nobody wants to set up their clients for a breach. So, come learn how to deal with this threat, so that UC can expand in a safe and productive manner. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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