Enterprise Connect 2019

by Dave Michels

#EC19 continues to dominate my time — two weeks after the event. I sent out my monthly Insider Quipz, and of course EC19 dominated the news of March. I will soon publish a research note on EC19 that goes into more detail on what I saw.

The annual March ritual did not disappoint. Organizers aren’t sharing many statistics, but claim the show had 7200 attendees and more than 200 exhibitors. From my perspective, the show was more diverse this year than usual. I am thinking about the single beat of the industry as it embraced VoIP, then IM, then WebRTC, and then messaging. In 2019, there were lots of drummers.

As predicted, the big themes had to do with video and customer engagement, however, there was very little overlap between those trends. Less obvious was the power of UCaaS. I reviewed and categorized over 200 press releases, and UC/UCaaS/Voice was the single largest category.

I will be publishing a deep-dive Research Note on EC19 in about a week that will focus on major messages, observations, keynotes, and conclusions. Several of the more intriguing announcements are scattered throughout this monthly report. Here is a preview of the upcoming research note:

  • AI: AI was everywhere. As with all new waves, most of the initial benefits are improved workflows and automation. The common formula involves transcribing a conversation and, from there, applying magic such as translation, sentiment, and guidance. The more interesting AI-related news came from Cisco (People Insights/Accompany), Talkdesk (WFM), and Zoom. Post.
  • The Innovation Showcase was very strong this year. Post.
  • Video: With six major launches in 18 months, it appears we have entered the era of visual-first communications. Also, there are no more excuses for not video-enabling every meeting room.
  • There are so many twists and turns in the race for global cloud calling between Cisco and Microsoft. Cisco moved into the lead when it acquired BroadSoft, but Microsoft is gaining as carriers embrace the new direct routing feature (ironically, a page from the Cisco Spark manual). The near-term winner is Ribbon, as it’s the preferred SBC for direct routing.
  • Cloud contact center: The casual show attendee could conclude that there are more contact center agent seats than UC seats — and from a dollars perspective they may be right. The big innovations are really around AI Chatbots, better routing algorithms, Google AI for CC, and more.
  • The vendors are getting bigly: The industry certainly changed a bit in the early 2000s when Cisco arrived. A decade later came Microsoft. Now we have Google and Amazon, and many expect Salesforce and Oracle to arrive too.
  • There were 91 first-time exhibitors this year.
  • Best keynote: The keynotes were all very good this year, but I give Cisco the edge.