I took over as General Manager of Enterprise Connect four years ago this month, and sometimes it seems like it’s been decades. Part of that is the job, which is mostly awesome but like any job has its moments. But recently it’s been feeling to me like the show I initially took over doesn’t bear much resemblance to the show that I’m leading today.
It turns out I’m not imagining things. Here’s what Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research wrote in his latest blog post for No Jitter: “I don’t think anyone would disagree with the premise that communications and collaboration has evolved more in the past five years than in the previous 50.” That totally struck a chord with me.
We try to keep Enterprise Connect heavily focused on helping you solve the problems you face today or will face in the near future, and so we’ve always been very hard-headed about how we program the conference. New technologies might be cool, but we made sure to focus on what you might actually be buying in the next 12 to 24 months.
The problem is, it’s getting harder to see those two elements—new technology and today’s concerns—as separate realms. The former is invading the latter, as Zeus spells out in his No Jitter post, which serves as a preview of a session he’ll be leading at Enterprise Connect Orlando in less than two weeks.
The session is called “Communications & Collaboration 2022: Emerging Technologies Realizing Their Promise?” It’s part of our day-long “Communications & Collaboration 2022” program of sessions, and thinking about this conference-within-a-conference has helped me get a fix on how things are changing, and how enterprise communications decision-makers are embracing the change, or at least preparing themselves to rise to the occasion. We started this program in 2017 as “Communications & Collaboration 2020,” and we challenged our previous assumption that our audience would opt for here-and-now sessions over future-technology sessions. We didn’t really know what to expect going in, but it turned out the room was packed all day, as has been the case for each succeeding year’s iteration of this program.
I believe part of the reason this program has been so popular is the time frame: We ask presenters to focus three years in the future. That isn’t really so far out there. You could even argue that if you’re not looking three years out, you really are likely to miss something you’ll wish you’d paid attention to.
All of this is not to say we’re now an event dedicated to blue-sky future technologies. You have lots of short-term decisions in front of you, and these are abundantly represented on the program—everything from Cloud Communications to Contact Center/Customer Experience to Video/AV to Team Collaboration. The thing is, next-gen technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), speech technologies, and analytics are becoming interwoven into these core systems.
The result is that the core systems are changing rapidly, even as you try to evaluate them for procurements and upgrades. It might feel like the ground is shifting under your feet.
And so you might wind up exactly where me and Zeus find ourselves—feeling like you’ve traveled the last five years in a rocket ship, whereas previously you’d been cozily ensconced in a Pullman car rolling down the track at a healthy clip that still left you time to take in the scenery.
Nowadays, as they say, life comes at you fast. So does Enterprise Connect. As I noted above, it’s less than two weeks away, but that’s still more than enough time for you to get yourself registered and down to Orlando to take in our sold-out show floor, amazing conference program, and non-stop opportunities for informal learning and networking. I hope to see you soon!