Avaya Labs recently demonstrated a prototype application that
integrates call-control with Facebook, with the nifty moniker
Doug Mahoney from Doug on IPComm calls it a “UC Killer”:
Built using Facebook’s APIs, Avaya’s FacePhone is an
enterprise app that loads into Facebook and is designed to enable
social networking functionality within the enterprise, on a
business-to-business basis, and on a business-to-consumer basis and
enables voice, video availability, as well as the stock Facebookness of
chat and IM. … doesn’t this sound a whole lot like UC?
Hmmm… it’s like UC, but it’s built on a common platform and is built
to leverage social media with both call center features (consumer to
biz, biz to biz), as well as enable communications within the large
enterprise. Smells a lot like “traditional” UC solutions, but at a MUCH
LOWER cost of implementation. Since users are already familiar with
and using Facebook for communication, this app fits right in.
I’m going to respectfully disagree with that.
I think Doug’s argument relies on the assumption that UC solutions
are ‘closed’ systems – so, therefore, if you can get UC-like
functionality from places like Facebook, which are outside of the
closed UC system, then you’re ‘killing’ the UC solution.
But…really, isn’t the whole point of a UC solution that it’s
open? That’s certainly our philosophy: when it comes to CRM, you can
integrate BroadWorks into salesforce.com, or ACT, or Microsoft
Dynamics; when it comes to business messaging/presence solutions, you
can integrate BroadWorks into Microsoft OCS/Exchange, IBM Sametime, or
Google Apps….or even Facebook – something our BroadSoft Xtended team demonstrated about 18 months ago.
So – if you’re bringing a ‘closed’ UC solution to market –if your UC
solution is basically an “all-in” PBX on steroids – and yes, there are
plenty of “PBX in UC clothing” boxes out there – then Doug’s absolutely
right: Facebook is going to be a threat to you. But if you’re a
Service Provider delivering UC off of the BroadWorks platform – a
platform that’s committed to application integration – then Facebook, salesforce.com, mint.com – these are all assets to you, not threats.