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Everything in Communications Up for Grabs

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Illustration showing business communications
Image: IRStone - stock.adobe.com
Our industry is at an all-time level of change and risk. Other than the IP network on which most communications now travels, everything else — from the IP-PBX to customer experience (CX) methods to the platforms and devices through which communication occurs — is undergoing massive change.
 
The change could be a decline and consolidation trend, as we’re seeing with traditional voice communications (for more from me on this, tune in to this Spearline-sponsored No Jitter on Air podcast episode, “Voice: What the Future Holds”). Or, the change could be amazing new innovations using tools such as AI or machine learning (ML), though these innovations are likely to be happening on new and unfamiliar platforms.
 
Fortunately, the Enterprise Connect content team has the pulse of the industry and has assembled a dynamic and diverse set of sessions. Here are some examples of what’s on the docket for the 2020 event, taking place the week of March 30 in Orlando, Fla.
 
The Many Faces of Communications Today
Microsoft and Google… and Cisco, “Oh, my.” Welcome to your new communications platforms.
 
All three of these companies are delivering voice communications as part of their business workflow and meeting software packages. As I’ve written previously, Gartner called this out in the 2019 Magic Quadrant for UCaaS, saying that “40% of new enterprise telephone purchases will be based on a cloud office suite — either Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite — by 2023.” Don’t discount Cisco, though, as it has reshaped Webex to be its recommended office communications hub, enterprise telephony included. All three of these companies will share their visions in main stage presentations and have exhibit hall presence, so this is reason enough to come to Orlando. But wait, there’s more!
 
The videoconferencing category is hot right now, as well. Zoom is growing by leaps and bounds and building share in online videoconferencing as well as in enterprise conference rooms. What’s more, it’s using its videoconferencing platform to deliver telephony as well; in some cases, this might eliminate the need for an IP-PBX license for Zoom users. Zoom will also be on the main stage and in the exhibit hall. A lot is happening in videoconferencing and meeting rooms solutions. Avaya, Kramer Electronics, Pexip, and RingCentral are all Best of Enterprise Connect finalists with conferencing and meeting room advancements in one or more categories.
 
However, the traditional telephony and conferencing options aren’t the only communication platforms winning in the marketplace these days. Notably, vendors are building multiple communications options into business application software platforms. This capability provides communication tools to the application users directly in the business processes that are central to their jobs and workflows. Usage Profiles, as I’ve discussed here and here, can be a guide to the departments for which this communication method is most valuable.
 
This year, two application software powerhouses will be at Enterprise Connect. Slack, a leader in workflow-centric collaboration software is a keynote presenter and will be demonstrating its product in the exhibit hall, and Salesforce will be exhibiting its Salesforce Service Cloud at its booth.
 
But business application software packages aren’t the only places that communications is showing up well beyond the traditional IP-PBX or UCaaS system. The most dramatic is the position that communications platform as a service (CPaaS) has claimed in the communications marketplace. Twilio and Vonage, via its Nexmo API platform, have been helping their customers create customized communications solutions for a decade now, and they have the customer base and revenue streams to prove it.
 
We also see major compute platform players, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, extending their reach into communications solutions. Some are creating specific enterprise products such as the contact center offerings of Twilio Flex and Amazon Connect. Others put more emphasis on the innovative and disruptive software technologies, such as Google has done as an AI partner with many contact center vendors. These platform providers will be highly visible at Enterprise Connect 2020.
 
Both communications-enabled business applications and CPaaS providers are also leading the way in CX management. In some cases, this is in partnership with leading contact center vendors. But in other cases, new approaches to CX are growing based on customer information in the business applications and databases that AI and ML tools use to shape customer experiences and business decisions. You’ll see and feel this tension among the presenters and the exhibits at EC20.
 
Strategic Guidance for the Taking
If all of this is of interest, please come to my session, “Strategic Planning Essentials for Enterprise Communications,” at 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1 (no fooling), in Osceola A. We’ll have a great session looking at various strategic approaches you and your team might take in order to maximize the value of all this communications transformation for your enterprise.
 
If you’re not yet registered, it’s not too late; enter the code NOJITTER to get a $200 off the current rate. There’s even more on the agenda, but you’ll see for yourself if you make the trip to Orlando. Hope to see you there!

This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.