What do you get when you bring together top experts on business software, unified communications, and cloud services? Besides a bunch of tech talk and enough acronyms to make your brain feel like alphabet soup, you also get a big-picture look at the future of enterprise solutions for business communications.
That's exactly what happened last week in Orlando, Florida, at Enterprise Connect 2017. The annual event has been a leading conference and exhibition for enterprise IP telephony, converged networks, and unified communications in North America for more than 26 years.
The following are some of the major themes and takeaways from the event:
1. Get Your Head in the Cloud
The future of unified business communications is in the cloud. That's not exactly a big shocker. We've heard for years that business cloud services make everything faster, cheaper, and more scalable, and most companies have already started to migrate at least some of their workloads. At the same time, telecom vendors are increasingly taking a cloud-first approach when designing enterprise solutions.
In the first general session, "What Role (If Any) Should Cloud Communications Play in Your Enterprise?" panelists discussed various cloud migration strategies, including hybrid cloud scenarios for businesses that aren't ready to completely abandon legacy systems. However, Vonage CEO Alan Masarek predicted that in the long term, communications will become unequivocally cloud-based.
He explained to the audience, "It wasn't very long ago that our workflow tools were on-prem or client-based, that our communications systems were proprietary, and even within voice, those proprietary systems — whether it was landline or cell — didn't communicate with one another."
He said for more than a dozen years, they've been talking about communications-enabled business processes and how to connect customer communications to employee communications back to other workflow tools that are unrelated to communications, such as productivity and CRM. Now, he said, the infrastructure has caught up with the vision.
2. There's an API for That — Or There Will Be Soon
The cloud might be a big party where different technology solutions can mingle and merge, but they need a common language to do so. That's where APIs come in and why communications APIs have become such a hot topic in the industry.
Enterprise Connect dedicated an entire general session to the topic: "APIs and Embedded Communications: The Wave of the Future?" Both speakers and vendors on the exhibit floor discussed how they've innovated their programming interfaces over the past year. As industry analyst Zeus Kerravala wrote for No Jitter, Enterprise Connect's official blog and resource center, "This is significant, as UC is finally living up to the vision of becoming more platform than product, enabling people to use more UC functions in more applications more often."
3. Collaboration Is King
The cloud was certainly a hot topic at Enterprise Connect, but three general sessions and several breakout panels were dedicated to Team Collaboration. Meanwhile, vendors in the exhibit hall showed off their latest and greatest applications for team communication and workflow management. The implication? Team collaboration solutions and apps are moving from shadow IT into the mainstream, where they're becoming an essential part of any unified communications strategy.
For more insights on the future of enterprise solutions for unified communications, watch the keynote speeches, general sessions, and other highlights from Enterprise Connect 2017.
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