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3 Themes Emerging from 2022’s Best of EC Finalists

The finalists for the Best of Enterprise Connect awards have been announced, and it’s an impressive array of diverse innovations across the range of enterprise communications/collaboration technologies.
A few themes definitely jump out at me as I survey the list of nominees:
1. Customer Experience is hot: Three of our six Overall finalists are companies that focus on the contact center/customer experience: Amazon Web Services, which was recognized for a product that aims to help enterprises build better chatbots; Five9 and UJET, two contact center-focused companies that made the finals for products that will be announced closer to Enterprise Connect.
Furthermore, our Category award for Best Innovation in Customer Experience drew far more entries than the other three Categories (Most Innovative Use of AI, Best Innovation for Virtual Meetings, and Best Innovation for Meeting Rooms). In fact, about half of all our Best of EC nominations were entered for consideration in the Customer Experience category, which tells you that either a lot of new products have a CX angle or at least that vendors think it’s smart to pitch such an angle.
We ended up with four finalists for the Best Innovation in Customer Experience award:
  • IntelePeer: Atmosphere Marketplace is a bundled multi-application solution featuring no-code and low-code applications, equipped with a step-by-step plug-and-play setup.
  • LiveVox: SpeechIQ with Quality Management is a multi-channel interaction analytics platform with quality management tools.
  • 8x8: The company was nominated for a product to be announced in March.
  • Journey: The company was nominated for a product to be announced later this year.
Even within this crop of vendors, they represent real diversity: 8x8 has pioneered the single-platform UCaaS-plus-CCaaS strategy, while Journey took home the 2020 Best of EC award as a startup for its powerful contact center security technology. Meanwhile, IntelePeer is recognized this year for its contribution to the trend of APIs/low code-no code becoming a more important way of building out customer experience capabilities that can keep up with the furious acceleration of demand for digital transformation in CX. And finally, LiveVox shows off the importance and increasing functionality of speech analytics, which will only get more critical as agents’ time is increasingly spent on the most demanding and complex customer interactions.
2. Practical AI is expanding: In our category for Most Innovative Use of AI, the two finalists use AI to solve different but equally important problems for the hybrid-work era. Thrio made the finals for an AI-driven data loss prevention tool aimed at customer-facing interactions, while the judges recognized Virsae for an analytics tool aimed at helping enterprise communications managers understand performance and other technical data for work-from-home employees.
3. Virtual event software continues to improve: Our judges recognized both Zoom and BlueJeans by Verizon for their releases of advanced capabilities for virtual events. This has become a hot new product area as enterprises explore new ways to bring people together.
Speaking of our judges, I’d like to thank them for the hard work they did sifting through all of our entries and making tough choices about which to recognize. This year’s judges are:
  • Robin Gareiss, CEO and principal analyst, Metrigy
  • Robert Harris, president, Communications Advantage
  • Steve Leaden, president and founder, Leaden Associates
  • Elka Popova, program director, Frost & Sullivan
These four independent experts are taking briefings with each of the six Overall finalists this week and out of that process will cast their votes for the big winner, which will be announced on Tuesday, March 22, 9 a.m. on the main stage at Enterprise Connect 2022 in Orlando.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be just about a month away from our first in-person Enterprise Connect Orlando in three years. Programs like Best of Enterprise Connect highlight how much innovation is happening at this unique moment in our industry, and there’s even more incredible technology to see on the Enterprise Connect expo floor, where all the major vendors set up side by side to show off their latest and greatest. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to take three intense days to get caught up with everything going on in the industry. I hope you can join us in Orlando or virtually.
To stay on top of the Enterprise Connect coverage, make sure to visit No Jitter regularly and consider reading these articles on various aspects of the event’s program, including session previews: