In the 1990's, it was called the PBX Conference, and then in 2000 it became VoiceCon. Throughout those two decades, as voice began migrating from a standalone into a converged environment, the content of VoiceCon and its predecessor events broadened to address data and video communication technologies, both real-time and non-real-time.
In recent years, we've seen a more rapid pace in the transition to converged communications , and the time had come for the name of our event to evolve and reflect the new reality: We live in a multi-faceted, multi-media communications world. Enterprise communications now encompasses voice, video and data, both wireless and wireline. None is more important than the others; each has its role to play in a future where communications will increasingly be integrated into all facets and systems of business.
And so, in 2010, we changed our name: VoiceCon is now Enterprise Connect! The name was chosen to reflect the equal importance of all communications media, and the fact that enterprise communications takes place on a real-time, near-real-time, and non-real-time basis, according to the needs of the business and the individual user in the given situation.
When Enterprise Connect 2014 convenes March 17-20 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, the conference program and expo will cover all of the major elements that comprise modern enterprise communications and collaboration, including:
This white paper explains why we renamed the event, and how the new name reflects the state of the enterprise communications industry today, as well as the vision for the future that we believe we share with the marketplace.
Ever since the dawn of the Internet era, the main driver of enterprise communications has been the migration to IP networking, and that made IP-based voice communications inevitable. The transition to IP-based voice has come a long way, but as the data below from MZA Research shows, the process is by no means complete:
Indeed, after more than a decade of availability, IP still has not overtaken TDM as measured by the total installed base of lines. According to the London-based market research firm MZA, at the end of 2010 worldwide penetration of IP desktop was 20%; North America led at 37%, Western Europe was at 22%, APAC 13% and LATAM 10%.
So even as we change our name to reflect the broader vision of enterprise communications, we recognize the need to continue covering the technologies and priorities that have brought us - and the industry - this far. We recognize that our audience and sponsors retain major investments in voice-related technologies, software and services, and Enterprise Connect will continue to reflect the importance of these investments to enterprises and their suppliers.
And yet, it's equally clear that enterprise requirements have changed: They need more than plain-vanilla voice communications, and voice needs to be integrated with the other systems and applications that power today's businesses. As the research below from Blair Pleasant of COMMfusion and UCStrategies demonstrates, IP-PBX investments will continue to be significant for next several years, but investment levels will increase more rapidly for other communications capabilities such as Instant Messaging/Presence conferencing and collaboration:
Indeed, there is ample evidence that enterprises are increasingly ready to invest in Unified Communications - the term most often used to refer to the multiple technologies that aim to integrate voice, video and data communications systems with one another and with business process applications. As this research from Nemertes shows, nearly 4 out of 10 enterprises has begun implementing Unified Communications:
It's also important to note that Unified communications is far from the only — or even the most prevalent — area of change. In a growing number of enterprises, wireless is already the most rapidly growing line item in telecom-related budgets. Similarly, video is consuming more and more bandwidth, and architects designing next-generation installations face significant challenges with the widespread deployment of desktop video.
Moreover, none of these technologies and capabilities should be deployed in a vacuum, and all require that enterprises resolve a new set of platform-related questions: How much UC should be based on your IP-PBX vs. your messaging platform? Which capabilities and applications do you want premises-based vs. the Cloud? What is the optimum deployment solution for machine-to-machine communications?
Today's enterprise communications thus involves a much broader set of technologies, services and applications than is embodied in the name "VoiceCon," but the decision to change the name wasn't made lightly. As VoiceCon, both conference attendance and sponsorship reached record heights; between 2005-2010 VoiceCon was recognized three times by TradeShow Weekly magazine as one of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows in North America. The VoiceCon brand had earned tremendous equity, and our major responsibility in re-naming the event has been to ensure that this equity is transferred to the new brand.
In Enterprise Connect, we believe we have a name that expresses the essence of what our audience and sponsors are all about - and indeed what our event is all about. Terms like "Unified Communications" or "Collaboration" — while essential in characterizing important industry developments and goals — do not adequately encompass the vision that we believe our industry is striving to fulfill with the next generation of technology. We believe the technology and products must Connect people with each other and with business processes, so that they can communicate, collaborate, work, and fulfill business objectives anywhere, anytime.
Furthermore, even in an age of widely available video and web conferencing, live events remain unique in enabling people to Connect with one other: To build personal relationships, and to learn more, communicate more and do more business than is possible with even the most advanced conferencing technologies.
So when you come to Orlando for Enterprise Connect 2014 — or even before then, when you attend an Enterprise Connect webinar or Virtual Event — you'll find that while the range of technologies and issues has broadened, much will remain unchanged. Enterprise Connect will deliver the best-run, most informative, most objective events in the business. We will continue to address a market - enterprise communications - and serve the stakeholders in that market, rather than talking about technology for technology's sake. We will continue to bring you the best experts in the field, and we'll always make a priority of respecting your time, experience and intelligence. We will continue to pay attention to your feedback so that we can continue to find the people and companies who are best suited to meet your changing needs.
So, VoiceCon is now Enterprise Connect, and we pledge to make it better and more relevant than ever. We're honored by your confidence, and we will work harder than ever to continue to keep it.
GM, Co-Chair, Enterprise Connect
Co-Chair, Enterprise Connect