It’s always fun to kick back for a half hour and think about what we might see this year down at Enterprise Connect. The event is next week and based on the conference schedule and the exhibitor floor, is seems like it is going to be a solid event. Here are five things I’m expecting to hear lot of buzz about.
1. Skype for Business Becomes an 800 Pound Gorilla
Last year, it was still Lync, and “what are they doing?”. This year, it is definitely Skype for Business. And Microsoft is flexing their muscles. Tightly bundling their communications-layer along with productivity in Microsoft 365 provides them with an almost unfair advantage in the enterprise. It’s not like you are going to have a conversation about UC in an a mid-sized and up organization without at least looking really hard at it. And with Office 365 Cloud PBX, Microsoft is moving strongly into telephony and eliminating (or mitigating) the barrier many companies were concerned about, namely migrating to Enterprise Voice.
I’m expecting to not only hear attendees talking about it, but I’m guessing there will be a bunch of exhibitors who have S4B as a major part of their story. They may have built upon it, integrated with it or put WebRTC layers on top of it, but they will definitely be talking about it.
2. WebRTC Gains Traction
Last year I predicted that there would be WebRTC proof-of-concepts and some applications, but not many mission critical ones. Turned out it was a bit further along than I thought with Interactive Intelligence and Unify both showing pretty robust UC solutions built upon WebRTC. This year, I’m looking forward to see if the contact center solutions are offering WebRTC solutions for direct interactions between agents and customers and what some use cases might be. There are also a number of WebRTC development solutions, like Sonus, Genband and Twilio, and I’m guessing those platforms will be getting some serious grip.
3. Huddle Rooms, Huddle Rooms Everywhere You Look
This time last year, I hadn’t heard the term huddle room, now you can’t get away from it...and that is a good thing. With the rapid trend towards open office floorplans, employees need spaces to collaborate, and they need a bunch of them. Huddle rooms - smaller conference rooms designed for collaboration - are they answer, but they work best when they have UC technology in place. As we reported earlier, the race is on to outfit the huddle room so employees can easily collaborate with remote customers, partners and colleagues and do so in a professional, high quality manner. Companies like Jabra, Microsoft (hoping I finally get to see a Surface Hub), Google, Polycom and others are already delivering solutions to the market, and I’m expecting to see a bunch more companies focused on this growing, um, space.
4. The Rise of the Remote Worker
We really need some new studies about how fast the telework force is growing in America because it seems to me that it is EXPLODING and that the data doesn’t match up. And with so many people working from home or at the very least from the road, I’m expecting to hear a lot of buzz about how to take care of these employees and make sure they are a seamless part of the team and as productive as possible. It’s likely we’ll see some interesting technologies focused on streamlining home-based collaboration with professional-grade devices and solutions like those from Prysm and others.
Continued Buzz About Consolidation
Last year there was a consistent murmur at the event about how many competitors there were in the Hosted VoIP and UCaaS space and that the industry was ripe for consolidation. I think there will be a lot more of that this year as the M&A market in UC has not been as active as it might have been. The customer land grab is on and if you are at this event and doing a good job of selling, you’re probably doing a good job of growing your company and increasing your valuation, and maybe you’re not too quick to move. Still, I gotta think there are some bigger players that are looking to grow through acquisition and that there will be a bunch of speculation about who is going to buy or merge with whom.
What about you? What are you expecting to see in Orlando next week. Let me know in the comments section, or if you are going to be down there and want to connect, use the contact form down in the footer to get in touch.