We are hours away from the big event. Here’s a lighter version of my pre-show thoughts from my newsletter.
Things to note this year:
- Industry Vision Addresses: EC will fill the gap between the keynotes and regular sessions with mini-keynotes that enable six more companies to share their vision. These keynotes are shorter (20 minutes instead of 30) and won’t have demos. There are six Industry Vision Addresses: Vonage, 8×8, Mitel, RingCentral, Google Cloud, and Avaya. All will be recorded.
- Workstream Collaboration: It was 2017 when we saw messaging-based communications shift from the fringe to the mainstream — at least conceptually. We are still early in terms of adoption. Last year it was part of two keynotes (Cisco and Microsoft). This year it will be more dominant, and it will likely be core to four keynotes: Microsoft, Cisco, Facebook, and Slack. Yes, Facebook and Slack are doing keynotes. I expect workstream messaging topics and news throughout the conference, and I would keep an eye on 8×8, Avaya, and RingCentral for workstream news.
- Contact Center: As UC/UCaaS matures, the innovation is shifting to the contact center. Expect to see and hear about new capabilities in core products/services as well as supplementary applications such as WFO. I expect contact center will be a major theme this year, likely bolstered by announcements from Avaya and Twilio.
- Speech: Speech is the theme for the Innovation Showcase this year. We got 18 applicants, and the solutions were more sophisticated and diverse than I expected. The Showcase restrictions exclude the majority of returning vendors. A little Amazon speaker-device told me that speech will be the talk of EC18. This nascent technology is moving quickly. The Innovation Showcase session is Monday at 9.
- Video: Video tech is getting smarter. cheaper, and more embedded into apps. Check out the new Hello 2 and Dolby Voice Video device.
- Mobile UCaaS: UC was quick to embrace the smartphone. Now the smartphone is looking to swallow UCaaS. The mobile providers are experimenting with integrated UCaaS. While we have only four major mobile providers in this country, there’s no restriction that says each will only offer one type of UCaaS. Metaswitch and Mavenir have made recent announcements.
- What I Don’t Expect: I don’t expect major announcements from Cisco , Microsoft, or Google. But then, who knows.
- Past Prime: As industry terms and concepts mature, they lose their marketing sizzle. I expect less hype around terms such as Cloud, WebRTC, API, and IoT. The concepts remain strong, but the allure is fading.
Show organizers report a record number of vendors exhibiting this year. The conference program has more than usual hands-on sessions and end-user presenters.
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Next week, in TalkingHeadz #2, Evan and I will interview show organizer Eric Krapf.