Enterprise Connect 2017: Reflecting Major Industry Transition

Enterprise Connect 2017, which kicked off yesterday in Orlando, Fla., highlights a major transition in enterprise communications and a turning point for the industry. We have seen this coming, but now it's here!

 

This transition marks the clear beginning of the end for the IP PBX and for those companies that depend on the IP PBX for their revenues. You can think of this as equivalent to the impact that cellular telephony has had on residential land-line phones or that Internet video streaming has had on the broadcast television industry. People are still communicating from home and are still consuming entertainment, but the legacy networks and device businesses are fading fast.

The Enterprise Connect keynotes are the biggest symbol of this transition. This is the first time in the history of Enterprise Connect, or VoiceCon before that, when not one of the keynotes is presented by a company that makes even 10% of its revenue from the IP PBX category. Just to review, the five keynote companies are:

  • Cisco, a carrier and enterprise IP networking company that earns only 9% of revenue from collaboration
  • Microsoft, a personal productivity and enterprise application software company that earns less than 5% of revenue from Skype for Business on premises or as part of Office 365
  • Google, an advertising company that earns almost nothing from communication technologies, which it offers primarily to attract audience
  • Amazon Web Services, its parent an online retailer that has just begun to offer conferencing technology to its customers as part of its entry into business-oriented supply sales through this entity
  • Twilio, a cloud company that offers telephony services, but makes its revenue from communications infrastructure as a service and communications platform as a service (CPaaS)

Meanwhile, Avaya, when including the Nortel acquisition, was once the sole provider of PBXs in North America but now is in bankruptcy and has decided not to exhibit at Enterprise Connect this year.

The other indicator of this transition is represented by the finalist companies for the 2017 Best of Enterprise Connect Award, to be announced in the general session on Wednesday, March 29 (full disclosure, I'm one of judges). The Best of Enterprise Connect competition is always a good indicator of where the industry innovators are putting their energies. Here's a recap of those top six (alphabetically by company name):

  • BroadSoft, for BroadSoft Business -- an enhancement of the widely used BroadSoft platform to deliver a fully featured business UC offer. Note that this is the only finalist that is offering an IP PBX enhancement, but focused on cloud delivery and partners, not the on-premises segment
  • Cisco, for Spark Board -- a high-definition touchscreen solution with embedded audio and video to redefine the conference room experience. Spark Board requires a Cisco Spark subscription
  • Genband, for Kandy Smart Office 3.2 -- a CPaaS client for a customized user experience that integrates communications with business applications
  • Plantronics, for Plantronics Manager Pro v3.9 -- a cloud-based service using information from PC-based Plantronics UC headsets to manage assets, usage, analytics, and audio quality
  • Polycom, for EagleEye Director II -- a new version of the Polycom audio/video room system that applies advanced software to the meeting experience, including participation and room usage
  • Vonage, for Nexmo Voice API -- CPaaS with advanced integrations, including for IBM Watson AI and speech recognition

Clearly the emphasis is on enhancing the user experience (three examples) and providing communications integrated with applications (two examples). The overall field of 53 Best of Enterprise Connect entries was similar, with 70% distributed in three categories of conferencing (30%), operational management of UC (22%), and application development/CPaaS (19%).

I hope you are at Enterprise Connect this week and that you can observe this transitional moment in person. If not, be sure to follow Enterprise Connect developments here on No Jitter, on Twitter at #EC17, and live streamed from the event (see the schedule of video interviews with industry thought leaders (see the schedule here).