Enterprise Connect 2013: Shifting from UC to Video
By Jim Lundy
I attended the Enterprise Connect 2013 event this week in Orlando. If last year was about VOIP, this year the entire focus was on video. A majority of technology providers that were present at Enterprise Connect were talking about and demonstrating their video solutions. Many startups showed how they are leveraging WebRTC in prototype offerings. To me, this represented a shift in the event and it supports our premise that the pervasive video era has arrived.
The undercurrent we picked up from users at the event however, is that they are still trying to figure out where they go next for real-time collaboration in the office. Should they or should they not migrate from Microsoft Office Communication Server (OCC) to the next big thing (more on this tomorrow).
Enterprise Connect – the Event
There were certainly more users at Enterprise Connect this year, even if some were at the Manager level, not the director or VP decision maker level that the event sponsors crave. There were more vendors too and that made the size of the event look inflated. The Gaylord is a decent event location and it appears Enterprise Connect may have found a permanent home. It is a bit funky, but it is big enough to handle this size of an event.
WebRTC Video Buzz
The WebRTC Track helped to spice up the event, mainly because attendees got to see what the solution use case possibilities are with video embedded in a browser. Clearly, this standard has a ways to go and when one looks past the excitement of what video can do on a browser, what was overlooked was how critical a real-time cloud infrastructure is to making this happen reliably. We did like the demo of Doctor onDemand, which leverages WebRTC in its offering.
Microsoft and Video
Many large vendors have partnered with Microsoft on Video and the pioneer here is Polycom. For many of the early Lync demos, it was Polycom Video that was actually being demonstrated At Enterprise Connect, Microsoft re-announced its Video Interoperability Partner (VIP) program and listed a number of partners, including Polycom, LifeSize, Vidyo and Radvision (Avaya) as adopters. This is a similar approach that Microsoft has used as it has evolved other products: partner early and then expand partnerships so no one has an edge or advantage.
Cisco and Video
Cisco also announced enhanced interoperability between WebEx and its Telepresence video conference systems, a major step forward for enterprises and one that will force others to act. It also was pushing Cisco Jabber hard and we saw solid demos of Jabber running on iPads. Cisco also showed off its work in WebRTC, demonstrating that it is committed to innovation in this market.
Cisco was also hit with the curse of the demo that pauses itself during their keynote. The veteran experience of Cisco EVP Rob Lloyd meant that they didn’t miss a beat even though the demo didn’t launch ontime.
Siemens makes a strong Showing
Last year the battle for signage was between Cisco and Microsoft. This year it was still Cisco, but Siemens made a big surge followed by Avaya. Siemens needs the exposure and Chief Commercial Officer Chris Hummel got solid airtime by being onstage more than once. Siemens also announced enhancements to its OpenScape Mobile capabilities. We did spend time at the Siemen’s Booth and liked the updates to OpenScape as well as some of the solutions for Healthcare.
Polycom and Enterprise Connect
Polycom had a solid booth this year, but a minimal marketing presence. Given their high profile in this space, we were a little surprised. The Polycom booth did have solid traffic. Polycom has been pushing the envelope in video with its open approach (see Aragon Research First Cut) and its partnerships with others including AT&T. Polycom isn’t the only vendor that isn’t drinking the event cool aid from UBM Techweb.
IBM and Enterprise Connect
IBM, long a stalwart at VoiceCon and Enterprise Connect, pulled out of the event completely this year. Last year IBM had a small presence, as IBM GM Alistair Rennie gave a keynote. While they are not at this event, the drumbeat of IBM Sametime and Social Business continues on.
BlueJeans Networks got the award for making itself seem larger than it was at the event by out-Tweeting just about every vendor that was there. There were many other vendors at Enterprise Connect, including AGT, Avaya, Smart Technologies, Vidyo and others.
Suffice to say, at Enterprise Connect, it was much more about video in 2013 and less about IP Phones.