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During the TDM-to-IP transition, enterprise communications organizations had their share of dead-enders—people convinced that voice could never run on IP networks. Not coincidentally, these tended to be individuals in, shall we say, the twilight of their careers who were just looking for a glide path to retirement. Those who still had their careers ahead of them realized that working on Cisco gear and learning about IP networks could prolong and enhance their careers, not threaten it.

While the TDM transition has largely shaken out, we’re still undergoing a transition in terms of how enterprise IT groups skill up and organize to deliver real-time communications. Some enterprises are still sorting out the voice/data dichotomy; for the most part, the old Telecom department has been absorbed into IT, but there are still distinct “voice people” and “data people” in many IT groups.

But clearly there’s increasing need for cross-training and a more holistic understanding of how real-time traffic flows on IP networks, and how applications deliver real-time capabilities to end users. As voice and video wind up getting more integrated into business applications, the underlying skills needed to deliver communications services to end users are likely to undergo significant evolution.

We’re already seeing that happen in some enterprises, and the Enterprise Connect program team has found some great folks to share a more detailed discussion on this subject. We’re excited to have Stacy Foster, facilities and technology director, Chemonics International; and Gauri Bhalerao, senior manager, global applications and infrastructure, Yum! Brands; joining us in an Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018 general session, “Your Next Job Today: How Emerging Tech Will Change What You Do and How You Do It,” on Monday, March 12, 11:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

You can see from these women’s titles that it’s not your typical telecom job. Both were hired to bring a unique skill set to a new type of role within their enterprises. I won’t steal their thunder by going into more detail here, but suffice it to say they come at the role of communications in a way that’s very different from the traditional approach. Their stories are different from each other, reflecting the fact that each enterprise is likely going to have a subset of its own requirements and specific needs, as it tackles the opportunities and challenges of new technology.

It’s an exciting time to be working in enterprise communications, and the next few years will see significant changes—that’s pretty much a given. The installed base will have to be replaced some time, and it’s not necessarily a straight line to the new normal. In a way that didn’t occur in the previous generation, your enterprise may wind up deciding on its own what that new normal should look like, based on your unique business needs. New technologies and business models are emerging from industry suppliers, giving you all sorts of new choices.

The best place to help you figure out what you (and your enterprise) should become next is Enterprise Connect Orlando. Now’s a great time to register, with our Early Bird discount expiring Friday, Feb. 16. I hope to see you—in your current form—in Orlando.