Three Trends from Enterprise Connect 2017

I recently returned from Enterprise Connect in sunny Orlando, and I thought I’d share a few takeaways I noted from the show. I think they can be basically lumped into one of three categories. Cloud, workflow, and whiteboarding.

 

Cloud

It has been a trend for a few years now, but there’s no doubt the video conferencing industry is now dominated by the cloud providers. Logitech LCP partners Zoom and BlueJeans both had stands that were busy throughout the show – they would have been standing-room only even if they had had chairs. Another partner, Pexip, which specializes in helping those organizations who want to run their own infrastructure,whether in the cloud or on their own data centers, also had a very busy time. On the telephony side of the cloud, companies like, 8×8, Ringcentral, and Vonage all seemed to be very busy as well.

As such, I would argue that Enterprise Connect has effectively become a cloud collaboration show. Once dedicated to telecom hardware and infrastructure and originally called VoiceCon, this show has seen a major transformation in the last five to ten years, as has our industry.

 

Workflow

Throughout its history, video conferencing has been effectively separate from other communications and business tools like telephony and email. Even five years ago, very few customers had one strategy that covered all of their communications requirements.

That’s simply not true any more. Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Cisco Spark have been changing the way users are implementing technologies to improve their businesses. Amazon joined this workflow party with its new offering Amazon Chime. There’s no question it’s becoming a crowded, and exciting space, and I’m sure this trend will continue. It’ll be interesting to see it all unfold as several players all battle for a piece of the pie. What’s more, I’m sure clients will benefit greatly from the resources being thrown toward solving the challenges of business collaboration.

 

Digital Whiteboards

The third and final theme I observed was conference room white boarding collaboration solutions. There’s been a definite shift in how people are collaborating.

Products like the Cisco Sparkboard and  Microsoft Surface Hub were popular with users. Now that video is becoming part of a larger workflow, with solutions like Cisco Spark and Microsoft Skype for Business there is a real interest in the ability to do more than simply see and hear the participants. These solutions are not exactly inexpensive, and certainly for mass adoption prices will need to be much lower. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how video conferencing is increasingly an application within a larger workflow solution.

Interactive whiteboarding has been a technology extensively used in the education space for more than 10 years. Experienced educators, using the technology every day, have, without question benefitted greatly from it.

Now it seems that some of the major players are looking to move the technology out of the classroom and into the meeting room. It is interesting to note that the players who were big in the education space, are not the ones leading the charge into the business world.

Workflow solutions that operate in a very similar way to other tools casual users are familiar with appear to be the key to success. With such giants duking it out, it’s going to be a fascinating space to watch.whit

 

Conclusions & Predictions

The success criteria for the market is certainly changing. Cloud is enabling the mass deployment of this technology, and it’s ease of use is letting far more people benefit from the technology.

With Amazon, Cisco, Google and  Microsoft all now playing in this arena the opportunity for innovation and resources to be unleashed is unprecedented.

The future for the industry is very bright, but I’m certain the future will not look like it used to. With only 2.5 percent of meeting rooms equipped with video tools to date, I think there’s more than enough room for explosive growth in all the areas I’ve mentioned.
As they used to say at the funfair, “Hold on tight, fast rides tonight.”

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