If I had a time machine, I’d take you on a trip back in time to VoiceCon 2010. It’s not that long ago, just 7 years. You’d recognize much of the event that we now call Enterprise Connect – the same Gaylord Palms with Eric Krapf and his team. But you’d notice some very different participants in 2010. Back then, Avaya, Cisco, NEC, and Siemens dominated the show floor and the keynote stage. This year Amazon, Google, Microsoft, RingCentral, and Twilio stole the spotlight, leaving only Cisco as an incumbent. What’s happening and why?
The change in the Enterprise Collaboration market come from a few sources:
Cloud – Giving a new foundation for centralized applications, cloud has given developers an opportunity to revisit how people want to interact across distances. The emergence of persistent chat, voice, and video omni-channel communications in the cloud is driving a revolution of innovation. Much of the spotlight was on the pure cloud-based applications from Google, Amazon, and RingCentral while Microsoft reminded listeners that Skype for Business is unique with cloud, on premise, or hybrid solutions.
Browser and Mobile First – It’s a re-examination of how and where people do their work. We work in our laptops, tablets, and smartphones from anywhere and anytime. WebRTC is a foundational technology that enables the shift to browser-based communications and mobility. One example is explored during this week’s Communications Developer Zone Podcast with Chip Wilcox at Temasys talking about WebRTC applications.
Evolution of Devices – Why do people have desk phones? Oh yes, there will be phones for places like huddle rooms and for public safety, but the desk phone is on the way out. Much of the innovation with end-point devices has them evolving to special-purpose devices for public spaces or conference rooms.
It’s About Collaboration – Cisco, Google, and Microsoft focused much of their keynote sessions on their “smart board” systems with shared collaboration experiences. Touch-enabled shared experiences allow collaborators to work together on ideas. No longer will you have to take a picture of a whiteboard or write “Don’t Erase” on the board – it’s all saved in your collaboration session in the cloud.
Video is the New Voice – Video continues to grow in popularity with all of the featured demonstrations showing multi-party video experiences. Video has its place, but I wonder if ordinary “Hollywood Squares” video conferences are useful. I see video in education, public safety, and other specific applications having significant value. I see enough of my co-workers, thank you.
It’s clear that we’ve entered a new age, where cloud applications, collaboration, and video have finally arrived, delivering productive experiences to enterprises and SMB customers. Back in 2010 we surely could have guessed that Microsoft, Cisco, and Google would be a part of the story, but new players like Amazon, RingCentral, and Twilio are the real surprises. One couldn’t miss that Avaya, one of the anchor exhibitors and keynote presenters, was missing from the show floor and keynote stage. With a great history of innovation and a great launch of their ZANG developer platform last year, their absence was noticed.
Tweet me @AlanDPercy with your guesses for who will dominate the stage 7 years from now.