A year after it acquired Amteva as the core software behind its "unified communications" suite, Cisco Systems has shifted into high gear in offering its platform for delivering a "voice portal" that combines multimedia messaging and real-time call services.
In the past 90 days, Cisco has won a number of customers for its uOne application, which layers enhanced messaging services over Cisco's network gatekeeping hardware. Among those customers are BellSouth, CMA Consulting Services, Nhancement Technologies, and Videotron Communications. According to Cisco executives, the company has big plans for expanding those services by adding more powerful content delivery and transactional capabilities.
Dick Hyatt, director of business development for Cisco's newly created Internet Communications Software Group, says the need to offer such advanced services is growing from the fast-dropping price of bandwidth. "Dial tone is dropping through the floor," Hyatt says. "It does not build brand, and it does not build loyalty."
Nhancement executive Richard Glover says Cisco's unified communications suite is proving to be a big help in his company's transition from a seller of voice-processing equipment for enterprises to a provider of hosted applications for service providers. "Could we do it without [Cisco]? Probably, but it would be a heck of a lot more difficult," he says.
Meanwhile, Steve Byars, director of carrier infrastructure for research firm Current Analysis says that while Cisco's approach of delivering unified communications through service providers is unique, he cautions that the market it's serving hasn't quite figured out what to do with the new services. "No one is being hugely successful yet in delivering these kinds of services," he says. "The pricing is simply notdefined."