The first day of Enterprise Connect is a bit mellow and slow, you have folks streaming in to get registered, plenty of smalltalk and pleasantries among attendees, New England residents taking time to bask in the Florida sun.
Day two, however, is the start of vendor propaganda (ahem, keynotes), onstage demos to impress the audience, and occasional zingers from vendors.
From Squared to Spark
Cisco’s Rowan Trollope had the privilege of kicking off the first keynote address, and this year there’s a lot more focus on software. The big splash made was the general availability of Cisco Spark which matured from its Project Squared. If you’ve used HipChat, Slack, or even Salesforce Chatter, then you’ll be familiar with Spark’s interface. If anything it’s Cisco acknowledging the market preference of a unified dashboard-like collaboration tool. Hardly innovative but definitely a step in the right direction to improve the user experience of Cisco UC solutions.
In its contact center portfolio, Cisco is injecting omni/multi-channel analytics capabilities via Context Service. This gives the contact center a complete view of customer interactions, from web browsing history to emails to chat to voice calls. Context Service works only with Cisco, but the company said there will be an open API for developers to create custom analytics solutions.
As with any trade show and conference, the best tweets to monitor are those of the competitors. Microsoft had something to say about Trollope and Cisco UC:
— Skype for Business (@SkypeBusiness) March 18, 2015
Avaya’s engagement (with Google)
Gary Barnett of Avaya delivered the second keynote of the day with the theme of “Engagement Everywhere” — not surprising since Barnett’s title is SVP of Engagement Solutions. (That doesn’t mean if you’re planning a wedding you should call Avaya.) Already armed with a robust channel program, Avaya now marches on with Google by its side to bring more mid-market contact center customers into its fold.
The Customer Engagement OnAvaya service will be a subscription service powered by the Google Cloud, offering virtualized instances of Avaya IP Office Contact Center to mid-sized contact centers.
Avaya could’ve easily gone to another major cloud player to offer this, so why Google? Perhaps the Big G is the only major cloud provider that isn’t an Avaya competitor, yet has the vision of becoming an all-around enterprise applications player. To me this partnership benefits Google more than Avaya because it’s more about selling the cloud than the boxes. Plus it gives Google the knowledge of cloud-based contact center applications, something that the Mountain View company hasn’t figured out yet (it’s already figured out online collaboration, voice service, and self-driving cars). The offering also requires companies to have Chrome-based devices, such as the ChromeBook.
Google’s various partnerships with telecom/contact center vendors will prove to be intriguing. It is an innovation, engineering, and analytics powerhouse, and what it can do with contact center applications seems limitless at this time, including displacing its partners’ market position.