Tag Archives: hosted

A few Minutes with Ken Bisconti, VP IBM Lotus Software

This is the first in a series of posts about my meeting with Ken Bisconti, the VP of IBM Lotus Software. Ken spoke with me at the Lotusphere Comes to You – Boston event last week.

Hosting

In research that I had conducted at another firm in the fall of 2006, it was surprising to me how strong the demand for hosted enterprise applications and services really is. My experiences with phone company-based centrex services colored to a large extent my laggard view of the technology and its prospects. Yet, in the face of the data, I am forced to revisit the space and am compelled to understand the dynamics of this rapidly changing space.

My question to Ken was around IBM's hosting strategy? Is there a plan to respond to the hosting opportunity?

IBM is the leader in outsourcing services operations, has an impressive managed services capability, but no hosting (Ken called it a multi-tenant service) offer. With Microsoft positioning its' consumer and business hosted services and offerings,  with Cisco acquiring Webex, IBM must be planning to play a role in this rapidly emerging market?

Ken explained that IBM will fill this gaps in their strategy soon, probably in 2007. We discussed the hypothesis that hosting is to address small business. I didn't disagree, except to point out that there are large enterprise benefits to implementing a uniform architecture where some sites or classes of employees are hosted, and some are more traditionally supported directly by IT. In these circumstances, the role of the IBM hosted offering would be to simplify that decision in favor of IBM products and services, instead of a split technology decision (which could tilt the playing field to the other guys who have a complete hosted and purchased offer).

We didn't go into details on whether this might be an acquisition or strategic alliance, but it is clear that a hosted offering can be a complement to filling the need for a uniform architecture across an enterprise. This would involve a lower price and cost than the managed service offering, because it is a standardized shared but private service. 

Mitel Brings Cool Contact Center to VoiceCon

Don Smith, CEO of Mitel took me around the Mitel booth and the adjacent call center pod. There were two interesting things that I saw. The call center pod showcased a smart-card activated IP phone-computer. The smart card, according to Don is integrated with the building security system, so an agent now has a compelling reason to log out of the system. 

According to Don, agents often neglect to log off to take a break or leave the call center building. If the same smart card activates service in the phone/computer and access to the building or floor, the agent will login/out in a convenient way.

The second interesting development was the hosting service module that Rogers is using in Canada. This very scalable approach delivers a lot of flexibility for enterprise customers. My concern was the channel. Hosting is a crowded market, with lots of softswitches available from a host (no pun intended) of equipment providers, including Open Source solutions. Mitel has a strong reseller network, but hosted implementations require a different kind of sales force, prices and support structure. The question is, does Mitel have what it takes to make that happen? Does Mitel have what it takes to make that happen at a sufficiently large scale so it is makes a serious contribution to the overall business?