Can Foresight be 2020?

Silicon Valley-bred utopianism can tempt us to believe that the future is here now. That Siri really is the ghost in the machine and not an imperfect iteration of a technology that will continue to improve --incrementally -- over time. Or that your toddler will never get her driver's license because humans won't be driving anymore by the time she turns 16.

On the flip side, PBX depreciation cycles and organizational inertia can tempt us to believe that nothing will change -- or needs to. We could convince ourselves that four years from now, we'll still be telling end users that the technologies they use in their personal lives just aren't enterprise-grade. And we might still be trying to convince ourselves that those users believe us -- or for that matter, that they care.

Somewhere in between these two extremes -- the technology pipe dream and the belief that nothing will change -- is where I believe a significant segment of the enterprise communications world is really living today. Most likely, your enterprise is going to move forward on new communications technology -- but in a hybrid environment. You may even look to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI)-driven analytics -- but as an element that gradually helps you improve your existing processes, not as a revolution that upends everything.

In planning for Enterprise Connect 2017, we wanted to try and capture this dynamic, and help our audience start to think about strategic planning beyond the immediate horizon. The result is a new conference-within-a-conference that we're calling Enterprise Communications & Collaboration 2020. This new daylong program will take place on Monday, March 27, with the goal of helping enterprise decision-makers with strategic vision and planning. With the sessions, we aim to give a sense of where technologies and markets are likely to be in 2020 -- less than three years out from the conference -- and how they're likely to get there.

We chose 2020 as our focal point, not only because it's a nice round number, but also because we believe it's far enough out that new technologies may be starting to exert real influence. To push further into the future would open the possibility of diluting content into a meaningless stream of wish-fulfillment. 2020 is a time frame that's perfectly reasonable for you to be thinking about in March 2017. It's also a near enough time frame that we can make some fairly realistic projections about where the technology and markets might stand.

We broke the day down into sessions that will each focus on major technology streams at the show, roughly corresponding to several of the major conference tracks. We'll start the day with a look at Core Communications & Collaboration; then dive into Cloud, Video, Mobility, and Contact Center. We'll end with a wrap-up session that tries to synthesize what we've learned over the day.

What these sessions won't be is futuristic. They won't tell you all the possibilities for what might be technically possible in 2020. Instead, they'll focus on what's likely to be mainstream in 2020. There's a good chance that 2020's mainstream will be different from today's, but not radically so.

As we've planned Enterprise Connect 2017, we've tried to give the proper attention to the legacy and the new. We know that some of our audience is just trying to replace aging PBXs with comparable (but hopefully upgraded) features, while also probably continuing to grapple with the demands for mobility, video, and enhanced contact centers. Others may be ready to explore team collaboration, communications APIs, and other cutting-edge topics. In building our program, we think we covered these bases, and we're honored as always that so many of the best experts in the industry have agreed to contribute their knowledge and energy to fleshing out the content that will bring the program to life.

Wherever you are on the technology and market spectrum, I hope you'll check out the Enterprise Connect 2017 program, and I hope to see you at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando the last week in March.

Check out our "Enterprise Communications & Collaboration 2020" conference-within-a-conference lineup here, and the full Enterprise Connect program here. If you register today with code NOJITTER you'll even receive $300 off an Entire Event pass or a free Expo Plus pass.

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