Final Thoughts: Wrapping Up Enterprise Connect
As the week comes to a close at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2014, a number of moments from the week stand out.
This has been an incredible week at Enterprise Connect: Big crowds, huge show floor, intense breakout sessions, newsy keynotes...lots of great stuff. We've picked up a ton of interesting information and (I hope) insights at the show that we'll be processing and posting on No Jitter over the next several weeks, but here are a few things that stuck with me as we close the event:
WebRTC purists might scoff at these attempts, and indeed they don't promise the ubiquity and associated Metcalfe's law benefits that interoperable, supported-in-all-four browser WebRTC would (will?) provide. But does that matter? For the enterprise internally, I'd say no. Lots of enterprise network management systems, for example, offer browser-based interfaces that are based on proprietary back-ends, rather than standards. If UC clients migrate to browsers, I'm not sure they have to be standards-compliant.
For the consumer world, it's clearly a yes--so if consumers demand a WebRTC that works like next-Gen Flash, then WebRTC will enjoy the near-ubiquity Flash enjoyed--until someone (i.e., Apple) decided to no longer support Flash.
* Software is hard: Talking to attendees, it's clear that managing software for communications is challenging in the real world. Version control, bug fixes, patches, regression testing...these can play havoc with an enterprise that's just trying to get communications to work. And enterprises who find that even a single vendor's software doesn't always work well with other versions of that vendor's products will find that the job of keeping a communications system running isn't going to get any easier. But one thing that isn't going to happen--we aren't going back to a hardware world.
* Ecosystems rule: A corollary to the above point, however, is that even the platform vendors may have to rethink the way they compete and co-operate. They've all got installed bases to defend and business to drive, but those that can develop a hybrid approach to the market may stumble upon a way to survive in the new world. By a hybrid approach, I mean one in which a company provides a platform of its own, but also may develop some software components that can exist in other vendors' ecosystems.
The classic example of this today, that's already happening, is Mitel's MiVoice, which the company is actively promoting as a voice system that plays well with Microsoft Lync UC. Mitel is defending its installed base and core platform, while not insisting that they own every piece of the customer experience. That may be hard for some companies to accept, coming from a world where you had to have the same nameplate on the desk phone as you had on the big iron in the closet. But I think it's a model that more vendors will tinker with.
As I said, my friends and fellow No Jitter contributors will have lots more to say about the things we saw and heard this week. A lot's changing in the industry--it's a really exciting, fun time.