Enterprise Connect 2017 – IT Needs to Act Less Like Vader and More Like Yoda!

T. Banting

Summary Bullets:

• Enterprise Connect 2017 focused around three common themes: cloud, collaboration as-a-service (CPaaS) and team collaboration apps.

• IT needs to act as ambassadors for the users they support to counter the potential issues associated with shadow IT.

Despite being a predominantly technical event, Enterprise Connect 2017 saw vendors concentrating on more business focused messaging and the value that IT departments can offer to enterprises. As both a speaker and attendee at Orlando last week, three key themes stood out to me as a focus for organizations in 2017.
Cloud: Once again, cloud continues to dominate this conference; however, the way in which vendors can augment premises-based equipment with value-added services was a new twist. Indeed, hybrid deployment options (which may help to mitigate some of ITs main concerns around reliability, privacy and security) seem a less daunting alternative to pure-cloud deployments and can leverage existing assets such as a PBX.

CPaaS: The ability to build voice, video and chat capabilities into applications via CPaaS highlighted how new and innovative services can be utilized to create unique services beyond the basic SMS notification services that initially defined this market. Twillio’s keynote demonstration showed how flexible building blocks of cloud-based code can provide fast, low risk and resilient ways to re-humanize the customer service experience, rather than having to rely on premises-based technologies such as IVRs and contact center platforms; furthermore, CPaaS is made accessible to millions of developers worldwide and leveraged by an organization directly, rather than having to be reliant on a vendor’s professional services team.

Team Collaboration Apps: While the industry is still trying to agree a common name to describe “Slack-like” services, vendors are clearly not letting that get in the way of developing them! Numerous vendors’ showcased team collaboration apps (inclusive of persistent chat, content sharing, voice and video functionality), and third-party integration is a key requirement as these apps become a common work-hub for users. Microsoft’s keynote demonstrated its new Office 365 Teams application and how files can be embedded within chat threads (allowing users to collaborate on documents in real-time), together with Skype for Business meeting integration, and tabs that support third-party services (e.g. ZenDesk, HootSuite and Wrike). Unfortunately Microsoft missed an opportunity to highlight Teams’ ability to provide eDiscovery, legal hold, and audit logs via Office 365’s Security & Compliance Center, which would have resonated well with the IT audience – especially given the concerns pertaining to shadow IT and the pervasive nature of freemium applications within companies.

During Enterprise Connect 2017 I tweeted it’s time for IT to act as ambassadors for their users. More Yoda less Darth Vader, as the conference left me with a feeling of a new hope for organizations. When IT act as mentors, employees are less likely to strike back with unsanctioned apps and services; however, it requires a greater understanding and co-operation between both IT departments and the businesses they represent.

About Tim Banting
As Principal Analyst within the Business Technology and Software group, tracks and assesses the rapidly evolving communications and collaboration marketplace. His areas of coverage include collaboration platforms, unified communications, video collaboration and social analytics

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