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Looking Beyond COVID

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Photo of businesspeople at a business conference
Image: master1305 - stock.adobe.com
What will the world look like when the pandemic is, for all practical purposes, at least in most parts of the world, under control?
 
That’s no longer a fantasy or an academic question. It’s the situation every enterprise is confronting. In our case, my team and I must envision the post-pandemic world as we plan for an in-person Enterprise Connect Orlando event September 27-29 at the Gaylord Palms hotel.
 
The operational and logistical aspects can be maddening. Discussions about basic social distancing questions can blossom into hours-long considerations of every minute action an attendee might take over the course of three days, and how we should prepare for that course of behavior.
 
Our brilliant operations team will get that part figured out, with the help of a strong set of safety guidelines already in place. But envisioning the post-pandemic world is a different kind of task for our program committee.
 
The basic question as we plan any EC program is: What are people going to care about in six months, when our attendees actually arrive on site? Most years, that’s a fairly stable environment in which to make such projections. This year is… tougher.
 
We’re starting with a few assumptions, and I’d love to test these assumptions against what you’re seeing in your own enterprise, and your wider world. Here are a few of the main ones:
 
  • Looking Beyond COVID — Yes, COVID and its effects form the basis of our — and this is the last time I’ll use this phrase, I promise — new normal. But we think it’s time to shift our perspective a bit. Although many enterprises are putting off their returns to the office until September or later, others, like Microsoft, are bringing more folks back to the office as early as this month. We think there will be some real-world experience of what the return to the office looks like, and therefore some opportunity to talk about lessons already learned and next steps based on those lessons.
  • Looking at the Larger Trends — I’m seeing a common thread running through many of our program discussions with our industry experts: Planning around communications/collaboration technology and systems is becoming more entwined with larger IT issues. In our recent virtual event, contact center guru Sheila McGee-Smith led a panel on how software integrations seem to be driving a convergence of the contact center with sales, service, and marketing groups within enterprises. I’m sure we’ll continue to explore this convergence at our September event; we’re also looking at sessions on how the broader trend toward low-code/no-code application platforms is impacting enterprise collaboration technology. And we’re examining the question of how communications/collaboration managers should be working with the larger IT organization in procuring public-cloud platform resources to support communications/collaboration strategies.
  • The Perennial Questions — Finally, we have the core IT issues that are as old as the discipline itself and re-emerge in new forms with each generation of technology. There’s build vs. buy, and if you buy (which you probably will for UC), how do you make sure you’re a well-informed, savvy buyer? There’s security and safety; and while these terms evoke new issues in the post-pandemic world, the ones from the pre-pandemic world are just as critical now, if not more so. And there’s the importance of — pick your automotive metaphor — kicking the tires, looking under the hood, clearing all those fast-food wrappers out of the passenger seat area, whatever…. Looking at leading platforms in detail is just as critical as ever.
 
So COVID and all the issues it raised will be an important through-line in our September conference — how could it not be? My point here is: There’ll be a lot more to talk about, and that’s what we plan to do.

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