Ah yes, late January. This may be the favorite time soon after the new year for telecom and contact center industry analysts. Why? Because they (all 40 of them) get to be sequestered at a luxury hotel (the Ritz-Carlton) in the fair-weathered Bay Area immersed in nothing but Alcatel-Lucent goodness. Good view, good foods, good beverages, good company (both the people kind and the enterprise kind), and thankfully for me far, far away from Half Moon Bay, there were lots of good tweets too (thanks to folks like @MattGenesysAR, @CharlieIsaacs, @PhilippeVayssac, @McGeeSmith, @vshankar05, @ekolsky, @iangjacobs, @BlairPlez, @diteb, @NancyJami, @rwang0, @SteffWatson, @alaasaayed, @dnm54, @Audrey_William, @brian_riggs, @heyshiv, @tddupree, @d_hong, and a few others).
This event used to be all about Genesys, as I’d written about an year ago. The Twitter hashtag was #GenesysAR then. Now with the latest corporate strategy from parent company Alcatel-Lucent, it’s no longer just about Genesys. The somewhat lengthy hashtag this time was #ALUEnterprise, and it highlighted the event’s focus on all things ALU — Genesys and then some.
After the obligatory beautiful tweetpics of spectacular scenic views and such, the conference got started with Tom Burns, EVP of Alcatel-Lucent and President of Enterprise and Strategic Industries, taking the stage. His message was that of branding: one identity — Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise; three businesses — Genesys, Communications, and Network. The Genesys name is kept intact, a move that most analysts in attendance thought was the right decision. No doubt, as the Genesys name and reputation continue to bring decent profits to ALU (12 consecutive quarters, according to Burns), thanks to strong growth in APAC and EMEA regions.
(But speaking of reputation, nobody mentioned a little-known settlement in the end of 2010 to the tune of $137 million between ALU and U.S. authorities. Apparently the Paris-based company was found guilty of bribing foreign government officials in Latin America and Asia before 2006.)
The other good point from Burns was acknowledging the high-speed innovation in the consumer market, outpacing the enterprise. The gap is even more pronounced in recent years with the proliferation of smartphones and tablet devices. Think Android (or iPhone) vs. Blackberry phones. Think iPad vs., well, nothing in the enterprise (the RIM PlayBook, Avaya Flare, etc. aren’t released yet). According to Burns, ALU won’t be fighting this “consumerization” wave. That’s good to know and may become a clear distinction between ALU and its high-profile competitors moving forward.
Paul Segre, CEO of Genesys, spoke of what’s coming up in the first half of 2011: Workforce Optimization (WFO), Social Engagement, Conversation Manager, Visual Communications, OpenTouch (let’s see what Siemens OpenScape thinks about this name and no, this is not a new TSA pat-down procedure), and MyIC Smart Deskphone are just some of the anticipated new releases this year. He also threw into the mix some more of that “hosted” goodness (again). More video conferencing news supposed to come out in the months to come, too. It’d be interesting to see how that matches up to industry heavyweight Cisco.
Three customers presented for the Dynamic Enterprise Awards. TicketMaster, Reece and Nichols (Kansas City’s largest real estate resource and Berkshire Hathaway affiliate), and French insurer Groupama. In summary, TicketMaster loved Genesys Reporting, R&N fancied VOIP savings (no wonder Warren Buffet is so wealthy), and Groupama was the only presentation aimed at customer service with its visual, location-aware, smartphone-integrated IVR product.
It’s good to see Alcatel-Lucent taking on steps to sort of reinvent itself, be it internally with a past acquisition like Genesys or with more recent acquisitions (OpenPlug and ProgrammableWeb). I am definitely looking forward to learn more about the WFO, Social Engagement, and OpenTouch (even though I’m not too keen on the moniker) products as I believe these could be runaway successes in 2011 if product development and marketing strategies are carefully executed.