- Enterprise communications and collaboration players Cisco, Unify, Interactive Intelligence and others launched and/or re-introduced highly unified (single pane of glass) collaborative experiences at Enterprise Connect.
- While these solutions have made great strides combining all known collaborative modalities (voice, video, messaging, email, etc.), but the real magic awaits interoperability with both cloud services and the platforms upon which they run.
Honestly, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made the flight down to Orlando, Florida to visit with and learn from unified communications (UC) players Cisco, Unify, Microsoft, Avaya, and many, many more. Each year at Enterprise Connect, these industry movers look to both take the pulse of their enterprise customers (current and potential) and of course check up on what the competition is up to. Over the years, many things have changed technologically, particularly of late thanks to the cloud, disruptive ideas like WebRTC and asynchronous collaboration.
At the same time, many things remain maddeningly the same, such as the re-re-branding and re-re-launching of software and services. I get it, really. Vendors must look to the horizon. They can only push the enterprise customer forward with the promise of what is to come. But I must admit some frustration with the way this marketplace currently favors “uber, do-it-all, single pane, highly unified” user experiences — especially when the proposed outcome is the creation of a developer ecosystem. That is asking for and expecting a lot. Developers go where the apps are of course, especially when those apps are open and running in the cloud.
Therefore, what I’d like to see at next year’s show isn’t a new user experience or a news of a forthcoming, in-house cloud platform. I’d like to see the software we have equipped with a consistent and open API, and I’d like to see it running on someone else’s platform, let’s say Microsoft Azure, Salesforce.com Salesforce1, IBM SoftLayer, SAP HANA Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, and Oracle Cloud Platform. That’s where the apps are; that’s where the developers are. They’re already assembled, looking for an opportunity to bake collaboration and communications capabilities into their existing or planned line of business apps. In short, UC players should go to the developer ecosystems already already established rather than attempting to invent their own.
Avaya’s expanded partnership with Google makes for a perfect case in point and something all UC vendors should monitor closely. Building on earlier work to run Avaya contact center software on Google Chromebook devices, the company announced and demonstrated this week its IP Office customer engagement solution running on Google Cloud Platform. Admittedly, this new solution (Customer Engagement OnAvaya Powered by Google Cloud Platform) isn’t intended for developers right now. It really gives Avaya the ability to reach the midmarket with a cloud-based hosted contact center service. But that’s just one route to market. Eventually, this service will find a home amid the sizable ecosystem of Google developers building apps on Google’s cloud using its sizable business apps portfolio.