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What I’ll Be Looking for at Enterprise Connect 2023

Enterprise Connect 2023 kicks off next Monday, March 27 (you can still register to attend in-person or virtually), and it comes at a moment when the industry’s challenges are uniquely bound up in issues that impact society at large. The two main examples are hybrid work and AI--specifically generative AI. Enterprise Connect 2023 has tons of “official” content on both topics, and likewise I’m sure much of the hallway/mealtime/reception conversations will steer in this direction as well. So, what specifically might we hope to learn about these topics next week? 

With hybrid work, I’m hoping our multiple enterprise end user sessions on the topic will shed some light on how IT/communications organizations are dealing with the ongoing uncertainties of hybrid work. The return-to-office/remote-forever pendulum seems to swing at about a four to six-week interval; just when you think the economy is giving corporate leadership the leverage it needs to enforce at least some time in the office, you see another article about a high-profile company where employees continue to buck the trend (and the bosses). This is a problem that technology can’t solve, and in some ways, technology can be a casualty of the uncertainty—you can put in great conference room tech and loads of bandwidth, but if people just don’t want to commute, what does it get you? 

On the other hand, I’m hoping we learn about what’s actually working for end users, whether in the office or remote: Which devices or applications actually make meeting participants feel included and help them feel connected to the others on the call; which policies and best practices make collaboration more natural; and what actually drives productivity. 

When it comes to AI, there will certainly be plenty of talk about ChatGPT, generative AI, and Large Language Models (LLMs). With Microsoft integrating LLMs into its Microsoft 365 suite as the Copilot feature, this whole area is moving faster than anyone would have imagined this time last year. And for Copilot and many other AI-driven scenarios, productivity is the big allure: If a collaboration platform can answer your questions and present you with information and insights about meetings you missed, it could be a big win for overtaxed remote workers. 

Then there’s the role that generative AI could play in the contact center, helping agents on the back end, and potentially enhancing self-service on the customer-facing side. Developments are moving just as quickly in this area, with Salesforce and Microsoft both announcing products in the generative AI-for-CRM space. 

So, the obvious question will be: How real is this stuff? How good is it, how accurate—and what’s it really good for? Another equally important question will be about compliance: How many of these wonderful new AI capabilities will an enterprise actually be able to leverage? I’ve talked to enterprise folks whose compliance teams wouldn’t even let them turn on basic transcription for video meetings.  

And that’s just the two hottest issues. As always, Enterprise Connect is going to be a feast of information, insights, networking, and technology, with a healthy amount of fun tossed in there as well. Our program covers everything from E911 to real-time network performance, from security to dealing with a multi-generational workforce. Plus, we’re bringing the enterprise communications/IT community together on important issues including accessibility, diversity, and women in communications. There’s still time to get in on the big event of the year—I hope we see you next week in Orlando, or online.