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No Time Like Now to Think About Our Communications Future

Change is in the air here at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2017 -- and I don't just mean the spruced-up décor at the Gaylord Palms, the longtime home of our annual spring conference and expo.

We heard it in some of this morning's kickoff sessions, and we'll no doubt continue to hear it until the conference wraps up with the Locknote/Town Hall on Thursday: The nature of enterprise communications and collaboration is shifting, and shifting fast.

Indeed, I'd venture to say that the pace of innovation in enterprise communications and collaboration today is sometimes hard to fathom for those who have grown up with the turtle's crawl of advancing the state of legacy hardware-based systems.

With a nod to just how quickly technology is evolving, we opened this year's Enterprise Connect with a new one-day conference-within-a-conference, Enterprise Communications & Collaboration 2020. No doubt, 2020 will still see its fair share of premises-based UC platforms across most verticals, but enterprises will increasingly be supplementing them -- and eventually replacing them entirely in many instances -- with cloud-delivered services. (Or should I be saying "cloud-delivered team collaboration services" instead? In three years' time, for some companies, team workspaces may very well have come to replace "traditional" UC interfaces as the go-to client, essentially becoming the new platform on which all communications -- both internal and external -- are based.)

Tim Banting, principal analyst with Current Analysis, kicked off our conference-within-a-conference with a big-picture look at the overarching question: Will there be a new model for enterprise communications and collaboration in 2020?

To be sure, Current Analysis research has shown a significant migration to the cloud and accelerated adoption of UCaaS, as well as increasing popularity of team collaboration apps and interactive meetings. And with the rise of such technologies will come the demise of others, namely premises-based UC and PBX platforms, conferencing, and telepresence.

Disruptive forces are undoubtedly at work; and the important thing to remember is that companies can come out of nowhere and completely change businesses without large upfront investments in technology -- just as Uber did to the transportation industry through the use of CPaaS. These disruptions are likely to accelerate over the course of the next three years, Banting said, so the answer to his question might well depend on the market in which your organization operates.

As you go about the rest of today and throughout the week -- in both the conference sessions you attend and the vendor booths you visit -- think about that statement. Whether you're actively seeking out the next greatest thing or just casually looking and listening, you're sure to encounter some pretty cool ways advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, or even virtual reality and augmented reality, will impact enterprise communications and collaboration in the not-too-distant future. Now the next question is, what will you do with the knowledge gained?

I'd like to think you'll take it back to your colleagues and business peers, if not executive management, and use it to initiate conversations about your own 2020 vision. There's no time like the present.

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