ADTRAN (www.adtran.com) entered the unified communications (UC) market last month. Whatsup with that?
More seriously, you have a traditional telecommunications hardware firm jumping into the fuzzy world of software solutions as a complement to the next step up the IP PBX food chain — more applications. Once you add VoIP and PBX functionality, the next thing many businesses want/desire is additional functionality to tie together all the pieces in the data food chain – voice, email, web, fax. And there’s also the win-win for system integrators/VARs to be able to add/offer UC to their customers as Yet-Another value-add.
However, it’s SOFTWARE, so the company will now have to deal with things like providing updates and more features and making sure the resellers offering UC are capable of offering customization skills that end-user clients desire.
From a size standpoint, ADTRAN’s UC solution can go up to 2,000 users — a bit bigger than the average 500-person ceiling in the more typical SMB definition, and opening up larger distributed enterprises.
Features for the UC solution include voice mail, unified messaging, fax server, auto attendant, graphical drag-and-drop for service creation (no programming), response (IVR) for inbound and outbound calling services, integration with databases, text to speech, call redirection services and more.
I think ADTRAN’s approach may have a lot of uptake because it’s relatively simple and straight-forward as compared to the mind-inducing headaches of complexity you see from larger name brands who start talking in code about customer-enabled business processes (yes, ADTRAN also mutters those buzz words) and defining as UC as every color of the rainbow except black and white.
The company’s real challenge is — as ADTRAN executives freely ‘fessed up — is figuring out how selling a software-based product works in its relationships with its resellers and with the company’s culture. Software and adding value to software (i.e. programming/customization by third-party) is a new ballpark.