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Making Spirits Bright

'Tis the season for tidings of comfort and joy, as the Christmas classic "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" reminds us all. So toss back some good cheer, and let nothing you dismay. If the angels on high or Santa and his little helpers don't have you covered, enterprise communications and collaboration vendors do.

They want to put a little jingle in your click this holiday season, and make sure you are all jolly happy souls year round.

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Don't believe me? Put aside your inner humbug for a moment, and listen to some vendor messaging I've come across lately.

In announcing the rebirth of its Spark team collaboration app as a full-fledged, multi-services communications and collaboration platform, Cisco shared the news that the result is "highly secure collaboration that is delightful to use" (for No Jitter coverage, see Cisco Spark Grows Up, Cisco's Spark Moves Light Up Analyst Insight, and Big Step for Spark, But Can This Dog Hunt?).

Spark's purported ability to inspire delight is attributable to how "passionate" the development team has been in its efforts -- as well as to the coolness of the platform, of course, said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Collaboration, Data Analytics and Internet of Things groups (and one of the keynoters at Enterprise Connect 2016). "Spark lets us give amazing experiences to companies of all sizes."

Shortly after reading the Cisco press statements, I encountered something similar from Shan Sinha, CEO of cloud video conferencing startup Highfive. Highfive's mission is to make the conference room a "beautiful, happy place for every employee," as Shan wrote in a blog post announcing that the company has revamped its pricing and packaging model and has launched new premium capabilities (for No Jitter coverage, read Highfive Ditches Per-User Pricing for Cloud Video).

No doubt Highfive's developers are just as enthused about their work as Cisco's, but Shan speaks in terms of them being "maniacally focused," rather than passionate. Such devotion is necessary when you're striving to create "awesome" user experiences, as both companies have said.

Not so very long ago, enterprise communications and collaboration vendors were pleased as punch to be delivering tools that served up good or great user experiences. But doing so today, if we're to believe this sort of messaging, would be akin to Santa leaving a board game under the tree for the kid who's been dreaming of an Xbox.

I appreciate the enthusiasm each of these companies and others are devoting to development in the name of the superlative user experience. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting my work tools and apps to be easy to use and intuitive; to work from the device of my choice, with consistent performance; to support purposeful integration for seamlessness among select apps; and to offer use without fear of security breaches and data loss. These are the highly desired capabilities that can turn the so-so into the good, the good into the great, and the great into the grand, awesome, and delightful. They can simplify tasks, improve productivity, and make us all more agile... and transform our office environments into beautiful, happy places.

We are, after all, living in a "golden age of software," as Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield told us earlier this week in announcing an $80 million investment fund aimed at building up the Slack ecosystem. "Work tools are finally benefitting from the type of exciting innovation we've seen in consumer apps for years. ... If we can make our customers' use of their existing tools even 2% better, that's transformational" (for No Jitter coverage, see Slack Puts Stock in Developers, Integration").

So with our cloud-based, mobility-centric, API-fueled communications and collaboration tools in hand, we are poised to have the merriest of new years. And vendors... well, they best return to their workshops ASAP. As any parent who's seen a once-coveted Christmas toy tossed casually aside knows all too well, what awes us today will bore us tomorrow.

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