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Sorting Out the Next Stage of Innovation

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I’m really excited to share the content for next week’s Enterprise Connect virtual event, Communications & Collaboration: 2024 with you. Our presentations are pre-recorded (with the speakers on hand live to answer questions in text chat), and our team has spent the last few days reviewing the videos. As always, I’m impressed and grateful to our speakers for sharing their insights and information.
 
I wanted to give you a sneak peek at just one little piece of a session, without stealing anyone’s thunder, and the thing that stuck in my mind was a comment from the session, “How AI Is Transforming Communications,” led by analyst Brent Kelly of KelCor. It’s a simple observation that encapsulates some of the challenges — and opportunities — of deploying the next generation of collaboration technology in the offices of the future.
 
One of Brent’s panelists observed that today’s environment of near-ubiquitous remote work makes the job of enriching our collaboration tools easier in one key respect: Each user’s stream of communications — their video and audio — is discrete and easily separated from the others’. So when you want to do something like automatically generate a transcript of the meeting, which is the basis for lots of other advanced tasks like video search, it’s a fairly straightforward proposition.
 
Now fast-forward, say, six months. Half a dozen meeting participants are gathered (safely distanced) in a conference room back at the office. All talking into one microphone, creating one audio stream.
 
This creates a problem, to which the solution is more AI, in the form of voice prints — the system can be trained to recognize different users’ voices. Of course, that solution creates a problem, in the form of corporate governance: What rights does the employer have to demand that employees create such a voice print? What rights does the employee have to protect that voice print?
 
I think this is an overarching dynamic we’ll see more of in the next three years: Returning to the office and working in new ways, many based on the hybrid model of office/remote work, will upend the hastily deployed but largely successful processes and tools we put in place over the last year. That will create a need for new solutions, but the process itself will play out against a backdrop of new corporate requirements and new employee (and customer) concerns.
 
It’s a great illustration of what we’ve tried to do with the theme of this virtual event. Communications & Collaboration: 2024 is about where technology is headed over the next three years, but it’s also about the implications and ripple effects of that new technology. AI is just one aspect of this story. Our session on the assimilation of sales, service, and marketing into the contact center, led by analyst Sheila McGee-Smith of McGee-Smith Analytics, is another great example. And my colleague Beth Schultz’s fireside chats with enterprise IT leaders Eugene Pitts of JPMorgan Chase and Mark Bangerter of Johnson & Johnson will walk you through many similar challenges and opportunities. The rest of the program is equally relevant and compelling.
 
So I hope you can join us for this virtual event next week, March 9-10. You’ll come away with lots to think about, and probably several action items.

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