EC15 Keynotes Google

by Dave Michels

This last post of this four part series of keynote presentations at Enterprise Connect 2015 is about Google. The keynotes, in order of delivery (and posting), were:

  1. Rowan Trollope of Cisco
  2. Gary Barnett of Avaya
  3. Zig Serafin of Microsoft
  4. Adam Swidler of Google

Keynotes are a tricky a business. There are very few guidelines from the conference organizers other than a window of about 30 minutes. It is up to the presenter, or often their marketing functions, to choose how to spend that time. The options are technically limitless, but the main menu generally includes

  • Visioning
  • Announcements
  • Demos
  • Guests
  • Mocking Competition

What ends up getting included in the keynote communicates priorities – almost as much as what doesn’t get included. That’s why I think it’s important to examine how each chose to use their time. The keynote audience is complex – it has end users, but also has media, analysts, and consultants (not to mention competitors). Even if you ignore all that and just talk to customers and prospects, there’s still a wide range of organization sizes and regions. Enterprise Connect is the largest conference of its kind – globally. The point being it’s actually quite complex to craft (and deliver) a keynote that broadly resonates with the audience.

There were some common themes across all or most of the keynotes. A big theme was change (transformation, inflection point, disruption, adapt, evolve). Transformation is best done quickly, so agility (flexible, fast moving, changing relationships) also came up a lot. None of the keynotes were voice oriented, in fact video and WebRTC were common as well.

Google Keynote

This was the first time Google did a keynote at Enterprise Connect. It was informative, interesting, well delivered, and a waste of time.

To be clear, I enjoyed Adam’s keynote. Adam is passionate and knowledgeable about Google for Work. His keynote was probably more educational than the others, but it didn’t really tell a Google story. The structure of his presentation went something like this:

  • Quickly highlighted improved SLA for Hangouts
  • Mentioned several other places at EC15 where Google can be found including a panel with Esna and Switch, and the Avaya Keynote
  • An abbreviated Mobile is Eating the World presentation highlighting Microsoft’s decline in influence
  • An abbreviated reference to Culture of Continuous Productivity
  • The rising importance of both data sharing and analytics.
  • The enterprise has been too restrictive: Dropbox and Box are an indictment against enterprise solutions that prevent sharing, WhatsApp and other messaging app popularity shows users will find their own tools, traditional siloed enterprises are obsolete.
  • The term “Unified Communications” peaked in 2007
  • De-Unified Communications is the new trend

SwidlerEC15There really wasn’t any net-new material in the keynote, but certainly many of these components would be new and educational for some audience members. The presentation itself was fine, it was the opportunity cost that bothers me. This keynote offered an explanation, not a vision. Adam did not include any announcements. demos, or even guests.

Google is serious about the enterprise. I know this because I am familiar with the Google for Work story (download this free TalkingPointz report for additional information on Google for Work). Google for Work was formed as a division last September.  It is headed by Amit Singh with the goal of leveraging many of Google’s enterprise oriented solutions and new technologies to create a more compelling commercial, enterprise-ready offering.

There’s plenty of evidence of an enterprise focus. Android 5.0 (Lollipop) was released last year with numerous enterprise oriented features including a new mobile device management solution. Google has recently unveiled improved support of Microsoft Office formats, improved Chromebooks, a stronger SLA, and calendaring improvements to name a few.

But for whatever reason, Google won’t actually sell this portfolio to the enterprise. It is all for sale, but Google appears to prefer grassroots adoption. The attitude I sense is ‘the enlightened will figure it out, we don’t want the others.’ The approach is surprisingly working. at least to some degree.  Yes, I know that Google Apps are primarily sold by channels, but this is true for the other keynote presenters as well.

Google could have hijacked Enterprise Connect 2015 into its own event. If  Amit Singh or Sundar Pichai (overseas Android, Chrome and Google Apps) delivered the keynote, the coverage would have been amplified ten-fold.

Maybe Google didn’t think it was a fair fight, so opted to take a fall. Perhaps that explains why the only keynote talking about Chromebooks was Avaya. Microsoft and Cisco bragged about their new global cloud infrastructure, yet Google failed to mention that it built the prototype. All the keynotes highlighted WebRTC and Mobility – two areas where Google can claim leadership – yet didn’t.


Microsoft is clearly positioning Skype as a consumer app and Skype4B as an enterprise app. Google Hangouts and Skype are comparable in functionality, but Skype4B is far more robust than Hangouts. There’s no APIs for Hangouts, so third party vendors have trouble integrating with it (even Esna and Switch). Google has improved the SLA, and launched room systems, but needs to address APIs.

Microsoft Lync, or Skype4B, is not particularly robust, elegant, or inexpensive. However, it’s deep integration with Skype and Office are making it a runaway powerhouse. Avaya and Cisco countered Microsoft with new approaches. No other UC vendor can match Microsoft’s story with alternatives to Skype or Office – except possibly Google with Apps, Hangouts, Android, and Chrome. The fact that they choose not to is the message that I received.

I understand that Google makes announcements on its own turf. I wasn’t expecting announcements. But I was expecting some excitement, clarity, and enterprise commitment.

  • Visioning
  • Announcements
  • Demos
  • Guests
  • Mocking Competition

Previous Keynote: Microsoft