If you look at the Unified Communications & Collaboration track we’ve put together for Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018, you’ll see topics ranging from 911 to mobile messaging to security to endpoints, with digital transformation included for good measure. It’s also where you’ll find our sessions that help you grapple with the challenges that arise from your strategic vendors’ evolving strategies for UC—specifically, our ever-popular sessions on Cisco vs. Microsoft and on the evolution of Microsoft’s UC strategy.
Why is this such a broad track? I think in some ways, it’s because UC “won” the mindshare battle. As best we can tell, there’s a pretty broad consensus that says when you’re doing enterprise communications, you’re doing UC. It’s essentially the generic name for enterprise communications today.
So when you have to do the basics of communications, the building blocks, you’re doing UC. But you’re not just doing voice. Endpoints are UC because they include phones, but they also include headsets leveraging PC softphones. And 911 is UC because it increasingly seeks to leverage channels such as text.
At the same time, enterprise communications is so much more than the ideas you can comfortably put under the heading of “UC.” Or maybe a better way to put it is that, while you can include ideas like video or team collaboration under the rubric of Unified Communications, in some ways, you’re losing the essence of those newer technologies if you see them as just another piece of UC. And in the case of UC as a Service (UCaaS)—sure, maybe it’s “UC,” but what you really need to know about is the “as-a-service” (i.e., cloud) part: Hence, the Cloud Communications track.
And then there are topics that clearly aren’t UC but still are important for those working in enterprise communications—think contact centers.
So it’d be ridiculous to say that UC is simply a buzzword that’s outlived its usefulness, the way we no longer hear terms like “fixed-mobile convergence” or “bring your own device.” Those concepts became so dominant that they no longer required much discussion. They were just there.
I guess the way I think of it is, UC is the current state of the art in enterprise communications. Whatever else you’re doing these days, you’re doing UC. It’s the baseline that most enterprises’ constituencies expect.
But you’re probably doing a lot more that isn’t directly or closely tied to the baseline functionality that you provide. You’re exploring the new places and scenarios where you can deploy video; you’re responding to evolving work styles that demand team collaboration tools. You’re finding ways to accommodate the realization that customer experience is the most important priority in many enterprises today, requiring new systems for what just a couple years ago was quaintly known as the “call center.”
So there’s still plenty to talk about when it comes to Unified Communications. There’s also a world of new developments hitting your enterprise now, or poised to hit it soon, that go well beyond that two-word description that served the industry pretty well for the last decade or so.
Whatever your most pressing priorities are, we’ve got programming to help you grapple with them. I hope you’ll register for Enterprise Connect and we’ll see you in Orlando.