Enterprise Connect 2014: Has UC Finally Caught On?

Insights from Leading UC Solutions Providers

We attended the Enterprise Connect 2014 conference held this week in Orlando and will use our next several postings to report on the proceedings and many announcements, starting today with coverage of a panel discussion, “UC Summit—Has the Market Caught on, Finally?”  The lively discussion, chaired by Fred Knight and Jim Burton, featured a veritable Who’s Who among UC solutions providers including senior executives from Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel, NEC, and Unify.

Fred Knight, GM and Co-Chair of the conference, opened the discussion by suggesting that Unified Communications has gone through three phases, including “click to call,” CEBP (communication-enabled business process), and deep analytics. Knight then asked the panel, “What’s next?”

Panelists agreed that “click to call” was a done deal years ago, with general consensus that users are on the verge of taking full advantage of CEBP; however, analytics (including big data / heuristics for UC) is still evolving.

Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group, pointed out that “Act 2 is the transformation of focus on user experience… making it all work easily [by placing] the user at the center.” He continued by comparing the UC ecosystem to the toy industry where parents (the IT department) buy toys (features) and kids (employees) play – or don’t play with the toys. But, according to Trollope, "if the kids can’t use it, then you end up with a box full of [unused] toys."

Other panelists agreed with Trollope’s point, with Mitel CMO Martyn Etherington adding, “We want this stuff to work. We want . . . democratization of the user experience.”

Mr. Knight chimed in, “But the stuff you guys sell doesn’t work together. When will it work together, or when will it work better together?”

After a pregnant moment of silence from the panelists, Cisco’s Trollope volunteered, “We think the way to get there is to use the web and APIs. There needs to be a fundamental change in the architecture. That’s why we’re so excited about WebRTC. “

WebRTC was, of course, a hot topic at the conference in other sessions. And we promise we’ll come back to this topic soon with some interesting research and observations. Meanwhile, we’ll try to cover some of the dozens of product announcements and business news coming out during the conference in our next edition.

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