It has taken me some time to go through all of the notes from Enterprise Connect, but I wanted to talk about some of the high points of the event as well as some personal observations.
I have been attending Enterprise Connect from the time it was called VoiceCon., and since the name changed to Enterprise Connect it seems to have grown to a point that it is now generally considered THE place to be for our industry. The content is very good, the speakers are at the top of our industry, and the panels are top of the class. Let’s start with some of the high points.
Reality check on the progress toward UC
This was an interesting panel of speakers, and good questions were brought up. Jim Burton was the moderator, and his first questions was, "User interfaces are different between all systems; how are you going to get to one size fits all?" The response from the panel was similar: "We are making open API's,” or, “We are working on integration between the systems so that there is better interoperability.” I think the most interesting comment came from Adam Swidler from Google. "We are NOT going to have a single Interface - it isn't going to happen.” Adam went on to explain and used a term "De-Unification,” going on to explain that people are using apps that are purpose-built for the task. When you try and add all of the possible features to create a UC interface, people just do not use all of them; they only use one or two features in the UC app, and the app is not efficient. When an app is built for a purpose it is far more focused on the task and more efficient, and you find yourself using it more and more. Cisco's Rowan Trollope quickly agreed. I, too, completely agree that when apps are built with a focus and a purpose, users get it, fully understand it, use it with confidence, and then tell others about it.
Another high point of this conversation was what came from Zig Serafin from Microsoft regarding Skype for business. Microsoft Lync has been around for a long time, and it is aging. Microsoft is going to replace Lync with Skype... Period. Skype is way more familiar to pretty much any communication tool worldwide and to more people than Lync could ever be. True, Skype has multiple features, but it has been in the consumer market for so long that it is a staple on the Internet, and consumers and businesses alike have no fear using it, and boy is it used LOTS. 50 Billion Min per month of conversations!!! If you take anything away from this session, it is the term "De-Unification" that sticks out the most, and the need to pay attention to it is critical. Even in a small company of 10 - 30 employees, communication is a challenge, and it is very important to keep your mind open even if you have to "De-Unify" some of your communication to focus on the communication that drives results.
“Mobile First”- A Slogan or a Strategy?
Michael Finneran and Eric Krapf were the moderators of the session. The panel included Scott Allen, Lee Wagner, BJ Haberkorn, Mike Pritchard, and Mike Fitz. Wearables was almost the first thing that came up, and Mike Pritchard explained that notifications are absolutely key when it comes to wearables. I tend to agree, but what are you going to do with the notifications when they show up on the device... The wearable industry is going to skyrocket and I personally can't wait to see what developers do with them. After listening to this session, it is clear that more and more work is being done on Mobile, and it is not going to stop. So is it a Strategy or a Slogan? To me it is a "must have".. if you are not tied into mobility, you have fallen by the wayside.
The keynotes were handled by Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft and Google. This is the first time Google presented a keynote at Enterprise Connect. Cisco, and Microsoft were the highlights in the keynotes. The demos that both of them gave were top notch and fresh, pushing communication in ways that gain focus around teams. Cisco's new Spark is their entry into the team collaboration software space. Team Collaboration software is a way to bring the Agile environment into the business. Examples of Team Collaboration software - Asana or Slack come to mind. Software developers have been using the Agile method for building software for some time. Mutare has been using Agile for the past 5 years. When using this method, developers are able to streamline processes and have large teams working together in a very cohesive way to hit goals on time with a highly reliable product with very few issues. Not only that, Agile gives teams complete visibility to what is taking place, what tasks are assigned, and due dates. Basically when following an Agile method, you are able to make changes more efficiently and iterate very quickly, as well as uncover issues and fix them with speed. If you can apply the Agile method to your sales and C-Level teams, you will have the ability to do the same for your business goals and projects. Companies do not have the luxury of time, and any efficiencies that you can put into place will help you drive the future. Google's keynote was more around stats, and that is not surprising considering the type of business that they are in. Again, the term De-Unification was sounded, and points on this were brought out, showing that focused apps with purpose are what is going to win. Avaya did show an interesting slide of how they are giving the power to those that may not know how to develop software, but can use a flow chart type program to create communications path. I was a bit disappointed that Avaya's tool looked very dated....
I encourage anyone in our industry to attend this event if possible. The content is very relevant and up to date. The Expo floor is HUGE, and it is a great place for customers, partners and vendors to meet and see new technology. Enterprise Connect has become a top shelf event and it should not be missed,