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Instant messaging is such an old technology that the granddaddy of IM systems has already lived and died. Just before the holidays, AOL announced it was shutting down AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), after 20 years. There was a time, kids, when AIM was so new and different, the abbreviations so cryptic (“U?” Isn’t it only Prince who spells it that way?) that adults were genuinely freaked out by the idea of their tweens and teens sitting in their rooms typing “LOL” and “ROFLMAO” into AIM, conversing with total strangers who could be anywhere.

Which is why it was so striking for me to read Brian Riggs’s latest post on No Jitter, in which he described various implementations of Microsoft’s Cloud PBX (now called Phone System) that were highlighted at Microsoft Ignite last year. One case study was from Tire Centers, a subsidiary of Michelin, about which Brian writes, “The company only signed up for Office 365 in early 2017, so workers are getting corporate IM for the first time as they transition to Cloud PBX.”

The idea that corporate IM could be a new feature in 2017 seems completely alien to a world that’s grown to include SMS texting, WeChat, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and all of their enterprise-grade equivalents from the vendors. And yet it makes total sense. Tire Center was meeting its voice needs with an elderly PBX, and corporate IM, all by itself, clearly wasn’t an investment that made sense. But when the time came for replacement, IM was just part of the package.

I’m calling attention to this particular case study because I spend a lot of time talking about how Enterprise Connect is focused heavily on the new technologies that are emerging to disrupt our industry. And indeed we are focused heavily on these future technologies—whether it’s cloud communications, communications APIs, Artificial Intelligence (AI), or a host of other possibilities—because we do believe they’re coming to your enterprise, possibly sooner than you might think.

And yet, you are where you are. If you’re Tire Center, you’re replacing an old PBX (by going to the cloud, incidentally), and you likely find that just adding corporate IM will give your employees a boost in how they work. From here you can look at Teams (since you’re a Microsoft customer); a similarly-situated enterprise might be looking at Spark if they’re a Cisco customer, or Slack if that’s the application that their workforce has cottoned to.

On the other hand, maybe you’re a company that needs to live on the bleeding edge. This is especially likely to be true if your business relies heavily on your contact center. Here you can make ROI cases based on hard numbers, and this is also where technologies like AI show a ton of near-term promise. You might be tempted to scoff at the idea of IM just being introduced in 2017. Then again, it’s actually more than likely you wouldn’t scoff, because you know how these things work in enterprises and in IT.

And that’s what Enterprise Connect is really all about—meeting you and your enterprise where you are. Well, physically at least, you’ll meet us where we are, which is the Gaylord Palms hotel in Orlando, FL the week of March 12. But our program and content and speakers and show floor all aim to meet you, conceptually, wherever you happen to be on the enterprise communications/collaboration journey.

And now is a great time for you to register. Our Advance Rate, the lowest rate we offer, expires next Friday, January 12. Whatever your problems, issues, concerns, or opportunities are, you’ll find in-depth content, industry-leading exhibitors, and smart, interesting, fun peers with whom to interact and share ideas. I hope to see you March 12-15 at Enterprise Connect Orlando.