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Avaya pumps Facebook – is UC "dead"?

Last night, Avaya held a workshop on “The Social Enterprise – Are you ready for it?” and they did a big homage to the power of social networking and Facebook. – no big surprise there since one of Avaya’s executives happens to be the author of “Facebook Marketing for Dummies.” However, the big wakeup call was a demo of “FacePhone” and its implcations are likley to cause heartburn for the traditional UC crowd.

“FacePhone” is a technology demo/prototype cooked up by Avaya Labs, Avaya’s R&D “think tank.” While not a shipping product, Avaya made it clear it would be more than happy to do a real-world test of the software with an enterprise.

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, “availablity” 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.

Used internal to an enterprise, FacePhone is designed for corporate users to share information without “leaking” it to the whole world… as you’d get if you simply posted queries to a Facebook phone open to the whole world.

The biggest headache to UC has been implementing a solution on either a “try before buy” basis and then spending more money to analyze and enable/improve business-process communications.  In theory, you could set up FacePhone a whole lot quicker and with some people already familiar with FaceBook in yammering to their friends and relatives, the adoption and usage curve should be a whole lot quicker.

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