Enterprise Connect 2016 took place end of March in Orlando. IR was there in the thick of the action for what proved to be an excellent event. In this podcast, Skip Chilcott - Head of Product Marketing - shares his thoughts on the highlights from the floor, what was hot and what to keep an eye out for. Enjoy.
Scott: If you weren't able to attend this year's Enterprise Connect Conference, we've got you covered. Skip Chilcott, Head of Product Marketing with IR attended the conference and joins us here today. Skip, what were some of your key takeaways?
Skip: Really this year was all about the cloud. Everybody is thinking about what is communications from the cloud going to look like and when are our customers going to adopt it and, you know, how are they feeling about it and then all the vendors have cloud options, cloud offerings, and if they don't have it yet, they're certainly trying to, you know, pivot their strategies and their messaging around that while they figure out what they're going to do and how they're going to provide a service from the cloud.
Scott: Was there any kind of consensus to, you know, the transition that we're going to see? I mean, the scale, that sort of thing in terms of going all cloud, all the time?
Skip: Yeah, you know, basically, every customer I spoke to—and even over the last, you know, six to twelve months, you know, it's accelerating and every single customer I spoke to basically has said we are going to move to the cloud. It's not really a question of if they're going to do it. It's a matter of how they're going to do it, when they're going to do it, and what's it going to take to make it happen and so from a vendor perspective, some people, some companies are already there. You know, you've got cloud based PBX phone system providers already that came out of—came up in a big way. They were rather much smaller in the years past. This year they're much bigger and then you've got the big, you know, the big dogs like, you know, Microsoft who's going, you know, their offerings are starting to accelerate and those are, you know, the Microsofts of the world and Cisco with something called Cisco Spark. You know, these companies are global in nature. When they go with something, the go really big. But then you've got the niche players that are like, you know, 8x8 or RingCentral where they're like cloud based phone services. They're available today but they're really oriented to smaller companies. But at the end of the day, enterprises are already starting to put small groups in the cloud and they're trying to kind of test it out and see what it's going to take because if it pays off in the right ROI, they're going to move everybody up there and we're talking by the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of users. It's just a matter of how is it going to pan out for them and is it worth that investment or is it better for them to stay on premise for a while but at the end of the day they're all trying to figure it out.
Scott: What were some other key highlights of the conference?
Skip: Yeah, so another big one is that, you know, while this transition is happening, this kind of new cloud based communications model is coming out, the other one is hey, we're already invested in all of our premise communications equipment and solutions. We're going to the cloud. How do we manage all of this? And so management is a big one. You know, user—and making sure that users experience is good because if you move from premise to cloud, you're basically switching your entire strategy of how you're providing communications for your employees and so managing all of that is a big deal because it puts a huge burden on IT departments to make this change and so it's not something that is a normal thing for them so this movement to the cloud requires a lot of work and so how do they manage it, how do they keep the quality, the uptime, you know, that's mission critical stuff and it cannot go down. You can't lose your communications and so the management of that is super—was another big one. One of the other things is the user experience. User experience is the king and it doesn't matter whether it's premises or cloud. It really doesn't matter. The user experience has to be as good or better than you have today and so one of the big questions that came up is how do you know if user experience is going to be better with the cloud or if it's going to be worse? You know, how do you manage that? How do you measure that and so, you know, if the user experience is not as good as what they have today, it doesn't matter what solution you go to. Users will go find their own solution and they'll abandon what the companies provide and that's a pretty common thing to have happen.
Scott: What did you hear regarding multivendor hybrid solution models?
Skip: So, multivendor and hybrid were another—those are two big kind of buzz areas but they're really important because hybrid solution model is important for everybody to understand, which is, you know, it's a mixture of cloud and premise together to satisfy an organization's needs. You know, some users might be great to move to the cloud. A lot of users might not be, for instance, contact centers. Those kind of need to stay on premise. You know, maybe you have these long term contracts with telecom providers for connectivity that you can't get out of and that has to stay on premise because you still have to pay for it. So how do you take advantage of those things with an on premise world and marry it with some cloud services as well for other users and you create a hybrid model of cloud and premise. That's a big one. The other one is that, you know, single vendor solutions really aren't that common. Everybody likes to say they're on a single platform but at the end of the day, most communications is on multivendor so different manufacturers for network infrastructure, you know, routers, switches, session border controllers, PBX software, hardware they run on. You know, there's a lot of different companies involved that make the components of that solution and so multivendor—another common thing is that multivendor is here to stay.
Scott: For more about IR and their suite of performance management solutions, be sure to visit IR.com.