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Getting Ready for Winter -- and One Warm Week

"When you get out the winter clothes," Fred Knight advised me, "it's time to start working on the program." He was talking of course about the Enterprise Connect program, responsibility for which Fred turned over to me when our 2015 event wrapped up last March.


Being that we're located in the Chicago area, I took that to mean I should start thinking about the program in about late July. My colleagues Beth Schultz, Michelle Burbick, and I started working on it in earnest soon thereafter, and now we've got about two-thirds of it live on the Enterprise Connect Orlando 2016 website. I'm really excited about the content we've got cooking, starting with our fantastic keynote lineup:

When it comes to the conference sessions, you can see the full list here and watch it fill out over the next couple of weeks. A few things I want to highlight:

We've got multiple sessions on the new class of mobile-first collaboration apps, which remain one of the hot topics in the industry. Dave Stein of Stein Consulting is going to do a deep dive into features and functions that differentiate many of the major contenders, while Michael Finneran of dBrn Associates will look at whether these applications can succeed where the older generation of mobile UC clients fell short. Given the growing popularity of these apps, and with companies like Cisco deciding to offer them, I'm sure the subject will come up in several other sessions as well.

Our Cloud Communications track has some really compelling stuff too: The annual Enterprise Connect mock RFP will be cloud-focused this year, and we've got sessions that will dig deep on the cost factors in cloud services, as well as a market taxonomy to help you sort out all the players. And we've added a session on the hot technology topic of software-defined WANs, or SD-WANs. There'll be more to come on this track for sure.

We're also building out a track around Communications APIs -- the critical technology that lets enterprises move swiftly and agilely to quickly bring up new features and to add communications capabilities to existing business apps. Oh, and on a related note, our daylong WebRTC Conference-within-a-Conference is back, led once again by Brent Kelly of Kelcor and Irwin Lazar of Nemertes Research. While we don't know exactly what will happen with acceptance of WebRTC in Apple's Safari browser, Microsoft is definitely an active player in this space, and the general sense is that acceptance is growing and that the amount of work going into WebRTC projects is only increasing throughout the industry.

Then there are all the other issues involved in being an enterprise communications decision-maker: Contact centers are as business-critical as ever, and the technology going into them continues to be at the cutting edge; and video continues to grow and spread out both throughout enterprise locations -- think "huddle rooms" -- and throughout user devices -- think "everywhere." Our tracks on both of these key technologies return, with experts Sheila McGee-Smith of McGee-Smith Analytics and Andrew Davis of Wainhouse Research once again leading the content efforts in those, respectively.

In addition to all this, you still have to deal with the UC migration, as well as budgets, TCO, investment protection, security, SIP and SIP trunking -- and we have these topics covered as well. In fact, our Management and Security track will be the largest it's ever been when it's completed.

It's a time of uncertainty in the industry. In the past, we may not have always known exactly what would happen exactly when, but we knew the broad outlines of how transitions would go: Digital would succeed analog; IP would succeed TDM. But as we look ahead into the looming post-PBX world, it's not at all clear how things are going to shake out, or what approach will be the best -- or if there will even be a single approach that works in basically the same way for most enterprises.

I'm not going to pretend we'll give you a single, bottom-line answer, and I wouldn't believe anyone who said they could. But what we will do at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2016 is offer lots of detailed information and informed analysis of the many issues that are swirling around our industry. We'd love to have you join us the week of March 7, 2016, at the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando, Fla. Click here to register, and use the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.

I hope to see you in Orlando -- minus the winter coat.

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