Two separate announcements crossed my inbox today, and even though they were generated on opposite sides of the globe, they both highlight the beginning of a big change in large enterprise communications. It’s becoming more obvious not only that large enterprises (1,000 seats and up) are moving towards hosted communications – but what’s more interesting is why this shift is particularly well-suited for carriers and service providers.

First up, from today’s VoiceCon eNews newsletter from VoiceCon super-chair Eric Krapf, on what he’s looking out for at next week’s show:

  • Are enterprises seriously considering cloud-based communications, to a more significant degree than they were a year ago? Can carriers/service providers deliver enterprise-grade services from the cloud?
  • Is video coming to a meaningful number of enterprise desktops in the next 12-18 months, and if so, why?
  • Is interoperability in Unified Communications even a remote prospect?

Now let’s shoot ten thousand miles away to Australia, where Telstra announced not only that their hosted communications service (TIPT) now supports video phones, but also that TIPT supports video calling and high-definition audio calling between enterprises on the Telstra network:

Following the launch of the first video telephony service from an Australian telco, Australians will now be able to communicate face-to-face using desktop video phones.

Telstra’s acting Executive Director, Data, IP & Enterprise Services, Carol White, said more than 300 organisations using Telstra’s hosted IP telephony product (TIPT) could take advantage of the high-quality business-to-business video telephony service simply by upgrading their desktop phones.

And remember – TIPT has already integrated enterprise OCS from Microsoft.  Telstra also support SIP Trunking as a complement to its hosted offers, allowing it to serve ‘hybrid’ enterprises.

The killer app here, the theme that’s starting to come to the fore across large enterprises around the world – and the key competitive advantage for service providers like Telstra – is integration.   While Small Businesses and Midmarket companies are open to ‘greenfield’ unified communications solutions, large enterprises really aren’t.    Large Enterprises have made decisions and investments in IT and tools, and they don’t want those replaced – they want them complemented.    They want things like:

  • Voice Integration – Integration of their premises-based communications systems (PBXs) and hosted communications,
  • App Integration – Integration of their communications and the IT apps (Microsoft OCS, IBM Sametime) they have in-house, and
  • Video Integration – Integration of their communications and video collaboration systems.

This is exactly what Telstra has done for their large enterprise customers – by integrating hosted/cloud communications, trunking to PBXs, video solutions and OCS integration, they’re delivering exactly what large enterprises need.    And this is where carriers and service providers have an opportunity to shine – because these large enterprises needs really aren’t well served by individual PBX vendors.

So going into Voicecon this year, it’s obvious to me that some old misconceptions are fading away.    Hosted communications is not a solution only for the SMB; as Telstra demonstrates, hosted is an ideal fit for large enterprises.     SIP Trunking is not about making connectivity cheaper –  it’s real value is more as an on-ramp to bring large enterprises into a hosted UC solution.

And for service providers – their opportunities to serve large enterprises, SMBs, and the midmarket – continue to grow.     See you at Voicecon!