From the cloud to mobility, real-time communications, SIP trunking and more, enterprises have a lot to consider as they plan their ways forward.
Planning the program for Enterprise Connect is a real exercise in getting down in the weeds: Trying to condense and synthesize what folks have been telling us and writing on No Jitter for the past year. As the New Year turned over, I finally had a chance to step back and look at what I think it all amounts to -- where we're at in enterprise communications as we go into 2016.
Here's the list I came up with as some of the most important issues that we face, and which will make up a good chunk of what we'll be addressing at the show March 7-10 at the Gaylord Palms hotel in Orlando:
The biggest strategic vendors in communications say the delivery model is moving from CPE to the cloud. They're going at different paces, with different business models and technology architectures. There's Microsoft bringing Skype for Business into Office 365. There's Cisco buying Tropo and positioning the Spark application as the front end of a cloud service that's custom-built for collaboration. The rest of the incumbents have their cloud stories, too, while pure-play UC- as-a-service (UCaaS) providers like 8x8 and RingCentral are trying to crack the market as well.
The challenge for enterprises is: Does this increasing focus on cloud fit with your own communications roadmaps and strategies, your business priorities and technical competencies? If it does, how will you plan the migration in conjunction with your vendor(s)? And if it doesn't, what do you do?
Emerging technologies like WebRTC and communications APIs promise business benefits to those enterprises that can compose new features and services with these next-generation cloud-based capabilities. We've got a full day on WebRTC again this year at Enterprise Connect, and a Communications APIs track. But these are still very new areas; are the technologies ready for prime time? Is your enterprise ready to take advantage of them?
Unified communications continues to be a complex management challenge while user adoption lags, which threatens to drive up your costs and deprive your enterprise of the value that UC systems are supposed to deliver. The need for gateways, third-party management suites, and significant user adoption programs adds another challenge to your UC migration -- how will you make UC work for your enterprise?
Security challenges and regulatory compliance issues are growing. As real-time communications starts to look more and more like (very fast-moving) corporate data, how will you protect it like corporate data?
Mobility continues to function as an entity largely separate and apart from core communications systems, even as a new generation of mobile-first collaboration applications emerge. These applications aim to tie the mobile user more closely into corporate systems, but again, these are new and their market acceptance remains uncertain. At the same time, enterprises have to deal with the reality of controlling costs in a bring your own device/choose your own device (BYOD/CYOD) world, where users' habits are largely based on how they behave as consumers. Enterprises that can't control and manage mobility will risk runaway service costs and missed business opportunities.
Then there are the perennial challenges or needs or opportunities: How do you provide video in a form that facilitates collaboration in your enterprise? How can communications technology make your contact center more effective in serving customers? How do you deal with the ongoing challenges that are still encountered when implementing SIP Trunks? We've got tracks on each of these core issues/technologies as well.
The industry is moving into a time of transition and, hopefully, innovation. It's been three years since the end users on our opening General Session panel agreed unanimously that they hoped not to buy another PBX. But the question of what comes next has yet to be fully answered. Navigating the transition and getting to the next phase will be more complex than any transition the industry has been through previously.
I hope you can join us in Orlando. If you haven't already, please check out the event and register here by Friday, Jan. 8, to save an additional $200 off the advance rate. This special discount, available using the code NJPOST for those signing up for an entire event pass or Tuesday through Thursday conference pass, represents a total savings of $900 off the onsite price! Plus, register three or more attendees from your company for even bigger savings.
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