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Predictions vs Reality at Enterprise Connect 2015

Posted by Kevin Gulley

Mar 23, 2015

There was a definite buzz at Enterprise Connect this year.  The industry is growing by leaps and bounds and it seemed to me you could feel a palpable energy when compared to years past.  I thought it would be fun to go back and compare my predictions about what I thought I would see at Enterprise Connect to what I actually experienced and learned while working the show and talking to scores of people.  Overall, I think I did pretty well prognosticating, but you can only see so much of a show of this size.  What did you learn?  Where do you agree or disagree with me?  investigationenterpriseconnect

  1. Lots of UCaaS and hosted UC...maybe too much.  Will we see acquisitions and consolidation coming down the pike?

    1. There were, indeed, lots of companies providing similar unified communications offerings.  Differentiation was a bit of a challenge for marketers, at least it seemed that way to me as I walked around the show floor trying to get an understanding of what a company did via the taglines on the booths.  However, there was some pretty impressive technology with solutions that ran the gamut from enterprise-level UC, to turnkey UCaaS offerings, to products that specialized in a certain niche of an overall solution..  

      When it comes to consolidation, a number of companies are already in acquistion mode - MItel and Vonage Business, amongst others - and many businesses I spoke with were aware of the crowded marketplace and agreed that the next several years would see significant M&A activity.  
  2. Video, but in a different way than in the past.  Whereas video and desktop video was a key focal point of recent events, my guess is this year there will be of an “it’s expected as part of a solution” vibe.  

    1. There was video everywhere. Polycom was showing some great stuff at their booth and was also embedded as the video backbone for several vendors.  I also thought the new Canvas offering from Jupiter was very cool.  It gathers video, in an "internet of things" type manner, from locations throughout large organizations with the goal of enabling operational visibility and collaboration instantly.  Imagine a city being able to drag and drop feeds from any and all video cameras into a shared collaboration space when an emergency is taking place.  This is a hard concept to explain in a couple of sentences, so expect a follow up post on this shortly.
  3. Plenty of buzz about Lync changing to Skype for Business.  Also, is Microsoft going to offer their own hosted version, cutting out the channel?  Many companies have bet big on hosted Lync as a service, so that could get ugly.

    1. So to start, most everyone I spoke with was stumped as to why Microsoft made the name change, especially since Lync has gathered such widespread name recognition over the last couple of years.  Not a lot of details yet about the differences between S4B and Lync, but I did speak with a number of companies (Genband, Mitel and others) that are extending Lync capabilities via plugins or WebRTC and are fully committed to working with and supporting Skype for Business when it hits the market.  A number of exhibitors were offering hosted Lync solutions which is a pretty good indication that Microsoft isn't planning on competing with their channel head on, but don't assume anything.  I know that Intelepeer made a significant investment in this and then pulled back out of concern that Microsoft would do it themselves.
  4. Cloud-based Contact Centers are going to take center stage.  Businesses like 8X8, Five9, Tata Communications, Interactive Intelligence, Thinking Phones and several others are going to be working to convince you that going to CCaaS makes business sense.

    1. Nailed this one.
  5. On the WebRTC-front, we'll see proof-of-concepts and some applications, just not many mission critical ones.

    1. Between Unfiy's Circuit product and Interactive Intelligence's new PureCloud offering, I missed this one a bit.  Even with the standards not being nailed down yet, these two companies charged full steam ahead with putting together impressive WebRTC UC platforms.  Other businesses like Twilio, Genband and Sonus are offering WebRTC development platforms to help businesses extend their applications with WebRTC solutions.
  6. More networking and application performance companies are exhibiting.  I think they are finally realizing UC, Video and VoIP going over the network is mission critical and needs bulletproof infrastructure.

    1. Plenty of monitoring solutions with IR (Prognosis), Riverbed and 8x8 among others offering end-to-end visibility into all aspects of their customer's communications infrastructure.  I might have spoken too soon about networking companies showing up.  Where are these guys...especially the wireless specialists like Aruba and Meru?
  7. Lots of talk (especially around the conference) about driving adoption of UC

    1. There was definitely a buzz about maximizing adoption.  I did a fly-by on at least two conference sessions in which this was the focus of the discussion, and Avaya was pushing 'Engagement' (the concept, and the platform by the same name) as a cornerstone of their new strategy.
  8. Free as a business model.  Will this be the year that free comes to UC and other types of communications - like Conference Calls?

    1. Interactive Intelligence is giving away their new PureCloud Collaborate WebRTC application for free.  It is a lot of technology for that price point.  I didn't see any other free as a business model offerings besides free conference calls, but that was a biggie.
  9. The tipping point for SIP Trunking is at hand. If you’re not using SIP, you’re looking at moving there.  Great place to connect with SIP resources you can use..

    1. It seemed to me that SIP was just being assumed at this event.  Several companies, like West IP and Tata Communications are leading with SIP and others are now offering SIP services as an extension of thier traditional offerings, with Twilio being the most surprising.
  10. Security.  Companies are looking to limit vulnerability on their communications networks and network security firms, session border control companies and system integrators will be lining up to help them.

    1. I don't want to say that security was the key focus of the event, but it was definitely a theme.  How could it not be with so many companies putting their mission-critical communications on their networks and assuming the risk that goes with that.  

If you attended this year's event, let me know what you thought.  What did you find interesting or unexpected?  What did you think were the highlights of the show?  

Topics: UC Industry, Industry News