Calling on Software for Future of Communications

As little as five years ago, for most companies at least, putting a phone on every desk was business as usual. Of course that's no longer the case; the use of smartphone as business tool and the rise of voice calling within UC clients, plus softphones in general, have seen an end to that. We're already well into our next evolutionary phase, and give or take another five years, having a phone, so to speak, in every enterprise application will be as expected as that desktop hardware once was.

The embedded communications trend tracks along with the ongoing transition from hardware to software and the attendant pursuit of cloud communications -- aka UC software delivered as a service. This is not an isolated movement, of course. Lots of software now lives in the cloud, and a favorite industry pastime has become figuring out how to interweave one type of cloud-based software with another.

Integration is the name of the game, as I wrote some time ago. And the game is intensifying in communications.

Legacy communications providers like Avaya, soon to exit bankruptcy, and Cisco, reportedly a quarter or so away from breaking out of its eight-quarter stretch of declining revenues, are starting to see the other side of their transitions from hardware to software. With feet more firmly in the software game, hardware-cum-software companies such as these, as well as born-in-the-cloud players, are all busy working to turn their software platforms into the be-all and end-all for communications, collaboration, and workplace productivity. The case is the same for others in the cloud ecosystem, hence the embedding of communications into enterprise applications (think Salesforce, for example) and the integration of cloud communications and other cloud software (think Box or ServiceNow, for example).

The mashups in team collaboration, UCaaS, and contact center-as-service apps are coming fast and furious, with lots of focus these days on integrating artificial intelligence into communications and collaboration apps. Open development platforms are increasingly common, with cloud providers offering up application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) to ease the integration, as well as customization, of your favorite cloud software.

Does all this mean the software-communications revolution has finally arrived? And, if it has, what does it mean for the way enterprises define their communications and collaboration strategies?

The intent is a seamless interweaving of cloud software into an ultimate communications and collaboration platform, but just because it's software and just because it's the cloud doesn't mean it's going to work together, a fact I was reminded of in a recent conversation with David Lee, VP of platform products -- and integration guru -- at cloud communications pure-play RingCentral. While some communications software platforms are truly open, enabling anybody who knows how to use RESTful APIs connect into them, others aren't, he noted. So maybe you think your cloud communications software provider ought to be able to give you access to your call logs, for example, but you'd better be extra certain about that before signing on the dotted line if that's truly a feature you anticipate needing.

Come March, at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018, we'll be doing a reality check on how near we really are to achieving the benefits that software-based communications promise. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 14, at 11:00 to 11:45 a.m., for a general session with industry executives whose companies are immersed in the software movement. We'll be exploring questions such as: Can enterprises achieve the benefits of software communications at scale today? And where does software come up short in providing enterprise-grade communications?

This session won't be our only take on the software revolution at EC18. Check out breakout sessions such as Why You Should Embrace the API Movement; The Reboot of Voice: Unified Conversational Engagement Across Devices, Touchpoints; Aligning Team Messaging with Your Broader Collaboration Goals; Software-Based Video in the Meeting Room; and Innovation Showcase: Speech Technologies. These are but a sampling of sessions across the APIs & Embedded Communications, Cloud Communications, Contact Center & Customer Experience, Speech Technologies, Team Collaboration, and Video Collaboration & A/V tracks that will explore the role of software-based communications in your enterprise future.

Discover your role within the software-oriented future of communications. Join us at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Advance Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.

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