The benefits, the challenge and competition.
Vodafone unveiled its latest unified communications systems for a round table discussion this week.
Its One Net Express, One Net Business, One Net Collaboration and One Net Enterprise claim to integrate fixed and mobile communications through a single platform.
Here's six things you need to know about them.
1. The aim
Jeni Mundy, Vodafone's product manager director, said a four times increase in UC is forecasted over the next five years.
"78% of multinationals reckon they can improve their productivity if they had a more integrated and simpler way of using all the various communication means and mechanisms that come into their businesses and staff today.
"We can provide them a service that's cloud-based, that they can flex up and down as they need."
2. The products
The cloud-based platforms combine mobile infrastructure and network controller with Microsoft's Lync, Office 365 and Sharepoint applications and Cisco's UC services.
One Net Express, aimed at small businesses ranging from one to ten employees, provides a single geographic number for both mobiles and landlines and charges callers at local rates wherever they are.
One Net Business is aimed at medium-sized businesses, integrating all functions of an office switchboard to work across desk phones, mobiles and voicemails, while both One Net Collaboration and One Net Enterprise converge fixed phones and mobiles for larger organisations. One Net Enterprise includes video and web conferencing, document sharing and integrated telephony from fixed and mobile devices.
Vodafone, which now has 3.5 million One Net users worldwide, said it is also looking to partner with Google apps, Huawei and Genesis and expand to emerging markets.
3. The benefits
The cloud-based platform has IMS integration with Cisco, according to Scott Petty, Vodafone's enterprise products and services technology director.
"What does that enable? Large enterprises start to integrate the mobile network tightly into their Cisco's solution that work across mobile phones, contact centre services...really creating a unique integrated set of services."
4. The challenge
One of the biggest challenges facing the UC market is standardisation, according to Petty.
"If you think about the unified communications market, it's not particularly standardised. Each bit comes up with its own manipulation of standards, so integrating those in consistent ways is a challenge," he said.
"The second challenge for particularly large customers is migrating from on-premise technology to cloud technology and what that journey means for them and IT departments around installing physical equipments in their sites. They see cloud as an evolution and they're not sure how to take those steps."
The systems put the company into competition with BT, O2 and Cisco, which are developing fixed and mobile services.
6. Business model
Although no pricing details were disclosed, Vodafone said the pricing for each product is contingent upon the number of users and the size of the business. One Net Express, One Net Business and One Net Enterprise are available, with One Net Collaboration yet to be released in the UK.
Source: Company Press Release