Enterprise Connect 2015 – Day 1 #EC15


Goodbye, Old Man Winter! Hello, Enterprise Connect 2015!

The annual conference and expo covering enterprise communications began today in Mickey’s backyard. Again, it is held at the biodome known as the Gaylord Palms. All week long there will be sightings of lush vegetation, tall palm trees, live alligators and turtles, and lanyard-wearing telecom geeks. Occasionally you may find life insurance salesmen meandering about — wait, what?!

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsSo what’s new on the agenda this year? It looks like it’s another year of cloud, UC, collaboration, and mobility, and all their combined possibilities. The premier sponsors and vendors all have a cloud-based mobile–friendly UC&C solution to offer. It’s going to boil down to cost and interoperability, which really relates to vendor lock-in.

Yes, what corporate IT pushes onto your laptop dictates the tools at your disposal. If your employer swears by Microsoft then it’s likely you’re stuck with LiveMeeting and Lync. If your company is hip and adopted Google’s suite of (unofficial) UC tools, then you’re probably rocking Hangouts and Google Docs. Or if the company is known for its distinct history and unrivaled tradition, then you’re probably swearing under your breath every time you launch IBM Lotus Notes and Sametime. Then there’s the company that puts together a “solution” à la carte — a bit of LiveMeeting here, some Sametime there, throw in Lync just to juice it up some more.

Thankfully the user is making a splash at this year’s EC. Businesses today are more focused on providing the right tools for the users, rather than just acquire any solution. Perhaps it has something to do with the BYOD trend? People gravitate toward familiar and preferred tools, and are taking them to the workplace. Some IT organizations frown upon such violation of their territory, but IT leaders who see BYOD as an opportunity usually emerge better and stronger. If anything BYOD users lets IT know why it failed them, and that’s always a good lesson for improvement.

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This year Dave Michels hosts the Innovation Showcase again. Frankly, the Showcase has been a breath of fresh air in the midst of stale keynotes, awkward demos, and vendor bashings. Seven finalists are given the chance to wow the audience with their take on collaboration. These young companies indeed offer some cool stuff:

  • Altocloud – With executive DNA from Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel, Altocloud adds smart real-time analytics to enhance voice, video, and chat interactions.
  • Collaboration Squared – Its Ubiety service aims to solve the age-old problem of interoperability among audio/video collaboration tools.
  • Double Robotics – “iPad on a stick” telepresence robot that moves around easily and lasts 8 hours on a full charge.
  • Fuze – Multiplatform, across operating systems and devices, user-centric collaboration software.
  • NextPlane – Making UC federation sexy again because we all know that most of the time our vendors and customers use a different UC solution.
  • Phonami – From Wayzata, MN, Phonami integrates the voice call into CRM platforms like Salesforce and Google Apps.
  • Redbooth – There are a few others in this space, but Redbooth’s cloud collaboration/project management app has notable customers like Spotify, Volkswagen, and eBay.

For Day 1 the most ridiculous (or possibly ingenious) product announcement award goes to… Sprint! The carrier kicked it up a notch in the “as-a-service” space with the announcement of Workplace-as-a-Service, or WPaaS. (Dare I ask how this is pronounced?) Dear Sprint, best of luck in spanking the competition. Admittedly a creative way to lure in more wireless subscribers…

What are some of the things which impressed you on the first day of #EC15? Please share in the comments section.

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