Wrapping Up Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015
The Cloud, the Business, and the Contact Center
I definitely wasn't expecting the question that came in from the audience at my general session on the Cloud at Enterprise Connect last week: "How soon can you get me up and running?"
Skepticism has been the order of the day when it comes to enterprises and the Cloud. But one of the developments that was clear to me at Enterprise Connect, at least anecdotally, was that it's a lot easier than ever to find enterprises that see a role for the cloud as part of their communications environment.
Listen to Eric Krapf's podcast interview with Guy Clinch:
The key advantage, I heard several times, is agility. Another one of the trends that was clear at the show is that enterprise communications people really "get" that they need to understand the business and its needs. And very often those needs center around agility, being able to respond quickly to competitive pressures and other issues within the market where the enterprise plays. It's a potential advantage if you can leverage capabilities that live in the cloud, whether those capabilities are provided off of a fuller platform like 8x8 or Corvisa--two companies represented on our Cloud plenary--or whether it's more of a one-off feature/function deployed via a cloud-based API, as we learned about from Genband, Respoke, and Twilio on the panel.
The increasing need for communications folks to understand business requirements also became clear with our session on dealing with Line-of- Business leaders. It was one of the best-attended sessions at the conference, again demonstrating that the walls of the silos are breaking down and that enterprise communications decision-makers understand the importance of knowing the business.
And another one of our best-attended sessions was Blair Pleasant's session on "How to Drive User Adoption of UC." The debate will go on ad nauseam as to whether a particular technology is a failure if people have to be taught how use it; but clearly, enterprise communications people today believe that the tool sets they have to offer are under-utilized. Maybe the future is in highly-intuitive, mobile-first applications like Cisco's Spark (the former Project Squared), or in new players like the much-talked-about Slack. Everyone wants technology to be easier to use; no one believes that a tool is better or more functional if it's hard to use. But at the same time, enterprises have what they have today, and these UC tools are part of a functioning communications infrastructure that people need to use today-- hence the desire to drive adoption in the near term. I don't think this means that communications managers are blind to the potential of more intuitive interfaces; just that they're looking for some quick wins.
The last element of the show that was more popular than ever was our Contact Center track. We saw strong interest not just in our higher-level executive-focused sessions, but also on sessions really dedicated to business problems--the buzzworthy "Customer Journey" concept, as well as mobile and customer service agent experience. Contact center has always been where communications technology tends to first drive business success, and it looks like that will continue to be the case.
So bottom-line: To me, this year's Enterprise Connect was probably less about pure technology than I can remember in a long while. Communications is becoming embedded in the business, from both a technology and an organizational standpoint. I can't wait to see what the coming year brings for the industry.