In early March, InterCall and West Corporation teams headed down to Orlando, Florida to join IT, telecom and networking professionals at Enterprise Connect, the leading expo and conference on enterprise communications and collaboration. While a slew of new products were unveiled and a wide variety of industry trends were discussed, a few stuck out more than others.
Here’s a recap of some of the highlights:
1. Hosted Voice Has Gone Mainstream
Ten years ago, hosted voice was seen as a thing of the future. Like with many new technologies, skepticism on its security and overall effectiveness loomed in IT professionals’ minds. Now we’re a few years down the line and the discussion surrounding hosted voice has taken a rather different tone. Executives no longer question its benefits or whether or not hosted voice is capable of meeting their company’s needs. Instead, they’re focused on finding new and innovative ways they can use the technology to achieve the highest ROI. Needless to say, hosted voice is here and is quickly becoming a mainstay in the enterprise.
2. Video is Everywhere
Video isn’t a new concept to today’s workers. People use it every day in their personal lives, whether it’s to Skype a relative, FaceTime a close friend or stream a live concert. Despite its commonality in everyday life, video has yet to make a splash in the workplace. That’s because all video isn’t created equally. What is good enough to share with friends and family isn’t the quality that works for investor meetings or business presentations. That is where the opportunity and the challenge lie.
With employees telecommuting more often and teams collaborating across the globe, in-person meetings are anything but the norm. So what’s the next best option? Video. Video conferencing makes it easy to connect with people anywhere in the world and on any device, allowing that sales pitch or pressing company-wide announcement to have a personal touch. It allows you to put a face to a name and voice and really get your message across the way you intend it to.
3. Consumerization of IT Disrupts Unified Communications
Every company and even employees within the company collaborate differently. Some employees prefer audio or video conferencing, while others prefer sharing files and communicating via chat and instant messaging. It’s great for employees to have so many choices available; however, when thousands of employees are bringing their own applications and devices into the workplace, things get complicated from a productivity and an IT standpoint. If everyone isn’t operating on the same tools, there’s no guarantee that everyone will be able to connect and communicate effectively. Instead, employees just waste time fumbling with different options trying to find a common ground. The bottom line is if the tools and applications don’t fit employees’ needs, users are going to find a way around it.
People are conditioned to the ease of their smart phones and file sharing sites like DropBox and they expect the same ease and availability of options from their employers. It’s now up to companies to listen to what their employees want and find the solutions that match those wants in the confines of current security and compliance policies.
4. Collaboration Tools are Ready for the Big Leagues
Unlike at the other shows, Enterprise Connect lacked a sense of hype . There was no “it” technology or new product coming out that everyone just had to see – and this wasn’t a bad thing. Everyone was focused on the same end goal – effective collaboration and finding the right tools and strategies to allow that to happen. This was encouraging to see because it shows all these collaboration tools are no long viewed as ‘nice to haves’ or novelties. Just as audio conferencing has become an office staple, so too are other platforms and services.
So why have we finally reached this point? Collaboration tools have proved their value and effectiveness at all levels in the enterprise. Now, it’s just time for companies to better understand how they can utilize video and hosted solutions to achieve a more mobile, user-friendly and collaborative work environment.
What’s next for conferencing and collaboration? Companies already have the required tools available to them. Now they must focus their attention on further developing their strategies to make virtual collaboration as easy and effective as possible and find ways to integrate it into everyday business processes. If they don’t, employees will look to external solutions, which will only result in more headaches for both the end users and the IT team.
Did you attend Enterprise Connect? What did you find most interesting?