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Briefs - 13 December, 2016

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on Unified Communications & Collaboration


Briefs - 13 December, 2016

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13 Dec 2016

Got numbers?  It has gotten trendy to play with numbers on radio business shows (my favorite is the Marketplace Weekend Report, though Planet Money has its moments).  Here are my numbers today: 2,000 and 50.  You do the math: 2,000 customers for the Microsoft Surface Hub, average deal size of 50 units = 100,000 units. (That’s our math, MS remains mum on actual total units sold.)  Largest order (stated): 1,500 by a “large car maker.”  In the course of bragging about all of its Surface products, the company shows off some pretty cool manufacturing processes.  And it reports full availability. What I like: if we believe Redmond, the Surface Hub is moving like gangbusters with plenty of runway – though apparently some accelerant can’t hurt: a select set of resellers are being authorized to provide 30-day trials to customers before committing to a large set of devices.  Maybe whiteboarding (oh, and collaboration and video conferencing and all that other stuff), with a little help, have got wings after all.

Logitech must be beaming; certainly Scott is blogging.  BroadSoft announced its UC-One Conference Room – a one-click conference room system experience that enables businesses to connect existing conference rooms to any UC-One virtual conference.  UC-One Conference Room includes the Logitech GROUP system, a ConferenceCam featuring wideband audio and HD video.  Works with BroadSoft’s other UC-One “stuff.”

Also new to the one-stop-conference-room category: The BlueJeans Huddle, a software / hardware bundle that extends the BlueJeans meeting service into conference rooms using a BlueJeans-provided endpoint for the first time.  A “hardware kit,” which includes everything needed including an iPad Mini – but not the display – lists for $1,899 at CDW. The monthly service to support the room (meeting support, central management, room monitoring, calendar integration) is available at a monthly subscription rate.  WR On-Demand subscribers can read more in our newly-minted BlueJeans profile.

BlueJeans Huddle & other clients

Not standing still after the November announcement of Microsoft Teams, Slack announced a strategic partnership with Google that will go way beyond the popular integration between Slack and Google Drive.  On the horizon: getting updates directly in Slack from the Google Drive Bot, integrated Google Drive team permissions, directly connecting Team Drives to Slack Channels, previewing Google Docs in Slack, and the ability to provision Slack users from the G Suite console. Timeframe?  1H 2017.  Separately, Slack has added video capability (after adding voice earlier this year) with a feature that essentially extends a voice call – you just click on a camera icon after launching the audio call.  A 1-to-1 call is free; multipoint video calls for up to 15 attendees are available for those with paid accounts. Video calling also includes the calls emoji response feature, so without having to unmute, users can raise their hands  to ask a question, add a  to show approval, or  to thank people for a job well done.

And speaking of Google, over on the education market front the company announced recently a type of digital portfolio capability.  Well, not exactly that but a means of holding onto work after leaving a school.  “Students will be able to copy emails and Drive files from their G Suite for Education accounts into another Google account before they leave the domain. This will enable students to easily retain their email, essays, resumes, science projects and any other files stored on Google Drive if their school removes access to their old account.”  The reason this is important: typically Google accounts are provisioned by the school and students lose access when they graduate or change schools.  Those learners are now off-net.  The idea of the digital portfolio is hot, and even though this isn’t quite the same, it achieves the same purpose. As usual, Google is adding a feature, no charge, let’s keep those kids a-googling!

Huh. BroadSoft is everywhere right now. Including partnering with ReadyTalk to help the latter deliver ReadyTalk Hosted Voice, which adds a cloud voice solution with instant messaging and presence, to complete an all-in-one UC package that already includes ReadyTalk's video collaboration, web, audio and video conferencing solutions and webinar services. The suite covers communication channels ranging from one-to-one interactions to one-to-many meetings and broadcasts.  Hosted Voice ranges from $30-$40 per user, with Deluxe, Premier, and Ultimate versions.

Last month Fuze announced the general availability of Fuze Managed Webcasting, a solution for organizing and broadcasting interactive presentations. With Fuze Managed Webcasting, a dedicated event manager leads all pre-event logistics and post-production follow-up. The service can handle video feeds for live streaming, recording, or international satellite broadcasting for 25,000+ participants at a time.  Standard features include:

  • Live and On-demand Presentations
  • Advanced Polling with Real-time Results
  • Full Slide Support, including the ability to support all PowerPoint builds, animations, and embedded videos in a streaming slide presentation
  • Live text Q&A Chat
  • Screen Broadcasting (Flash-based)

ShoreTel and StarLeaf announced they have worked together to integrate video collaboration for multiple users with ShoreTel Connect CLOUD and StarLeaf’s VCaaS platform.  ShoreTel Connect CLOUD users can schedule a meeting from within the Connect client that includes a link to join a video conference with multiple users.  This solution provides HD video quality over a secure connection. Customers with ShoreTel’s Essential, Standard and Advanced Connect CLOUD service plans can use video collaboration with up to 24 participants at no additional charge. The solution does not require additional hardware.  In addition, StarLeaf has joined the ShoreTel TechConnect program. TechConnect is a global technology and developer partner program that extends ShoreTel solution capabilities beyond its current product portfolio.

Department 60 (D60) announced that it has signed a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro to make its Visualz digital signage service available to Ingram Micro channel partners in the U.S.  Visualz allows customers to turn display devices into cost-effective digital signage for a monthly rate. The service is sold primarily through AV Integrators who can leverage a Channel Management portal built into the Visualz platform. This portal enables integrators to manage their customers’ digital signage content from one interface. Visualz provides a recurring revenue stream as well as the option of offering content management and creative services to its customers.

Have you tried Prysm’s Bag Meeting Bingo?  Another past WR sponsor getting creative.  Check it out! 

Zoom continues to Pac-Man education.  It has been added to the Net+ program offered by our friends at Internet2.  More fun numbers: 5,800 and 71.  Zoom counts over 5,800 schools among its customers, with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 71 among its education users. For the uninitiated who don’t work in marketing, ya wants your NPS above 50.  A 71 is exceptional. I wrote about them chewing up the educational markets about this time last year in a report for subscribers.  Ahem. Yep.

VOSS has announced a global strategic partnership with LayerX Technologies.  LayerX uses a patented platform to perform cross data correlation and provide a complete picture of overall UC performance. VOSS-4-UC, an advanced UC management platform, provides organizations with a scalable and extensible architecture for managing their complex UC environments. The strategic partnership will give LayerX integrated access to VOSS-4-UC data, enabling customers of both companies to benefit from a richer understanding of business and operational performance.  VOSS also announced that collab9, which was recently awarded FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) authorization, has implemented VOSS’s UC management to underpin the UCaaS provider’s secure cloud collaboration platform.    

Finally, we welcome some new players (or just new to this analyst) to the industry. Norway’s got nothing on Sweden, where ComPodium has raised €1.5 million from the Norrland Fund, the Centrecourt angel investor network, and Bengt Lundgren, the former CEO of Cygate. The company, founded 20 years ago, will use the funds to expand its digital meeting service in the healthcare industry in both Sweden and internationally. Meanwhile, Monaco-based Sonema has launched its own VISIO+ video conferencing service, a Vidyo-based offering that includes managed services.  Methinks Monaco and Sweden would be lovely to visit in the spring.