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Gearing Up for a Big Year of Innovation

The Best of Enterprise Connect competition has had a category for “Most Innovative Use of AI” for several years now. As many people love to point out, AI really isn’t new in communications and CX technology. But given the progress—and hype—around generative AI in the last year-plus, there’s certainly every reason to expect a bumper crop of new AI releases to grace the show floor at this year’s EC the week of March 25 in Orlando. So it’s exciting to think about what sorts of AI innovations we’ll see when the Best of EC entries close and the judging begins on January 26.At the same time, I’m beginning to wonder if this should be the last year we have a standalone category for AI innovation. After all, AI will probably make its presence felt in the other categories in which we’re awarding Best of Enterprise Connect awards. For “Best Innovation in Customer Experience,” it may be possible to imagine a significant innovation that isn’t AI-driven, but CX is certainly the area where GenAI has had the most early successes and is showing the most promise for ROI.

Likewise, when it comes to “Best Innovation for Meetings/Conferencing,” AI is behind many of the advances we’re seeing that aim to make meetings more equitable for all participants, and more bearable and productive as well. Throughout the meeting experience—when you speak or listen, when the camera points at you, when you finish (or miss) the meeting and want a summary—there are opportunities for AI to make the experience better.

Our final category, “Best Innovation for Systems Management,” is also an area where AI can be brought to bear. In fact, AI and its cousin, automation, are a potential source of efficiencies for IT and AV teams rolling out and tending to modern communications at scale.

I’m not saying innovation will only come from AI, but one of my hopes for this year’s Best of EC competition is that this process helps highlight the products that promise to deliver real impact, not just a flashy demo. When EC sponsors enter for the award, among the questions we ask them are, “What is the business case for this product?” and “What makes this product significantly better than the competition?” Those questions are particularly salient when it comes to products that use AI as their calling card.

What do you think? Will AI “disappear” into the many technologies it will support? Will we stop talking about AI as a standalone thing?

So plan to join us in Orlando March 25 – 28 at the Gaylord Palms, where our show floor will undoubtedly be an opportunity to immerse yourself in all the most innovative technologies, many of which are rooted in AI. And signing up for our conference is a great way to learn about and get savvy in all of the technologies and issues that are driving innovation in the enterprise communications/collaboration/CX space. I hope to see you in Orlando!