Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in on 2 speakership sessions: a 7-person IMCCA panel about the State of Collaboration Tools, and an InfoComm University presentation by Polycom’s John Antanaitis about the Growth of Unified Collaboration.
As an audience member, I love it when panels include end-users, so I was happy to see AOL and Sabre at the speaker table sharing their perspectives and experiences. The IMCCA panel also featured (in alphabetical order): Acano, Cisco, Henry Dewing (Strategic Marketing Executive), Polycom and Tata Communications, and was moderated by David Danto. The panel covered a wide range of topics including voice, IM/messaging, video, interoperability, bandwidth, connectivity, and collaboration. Below are a few quotes from the session that I thought were quite interesting!
“We have a huge amount of remote workers. Like HuffPost, all of the editors and writers are remote and they come in on video on our Polycom systems all the time, which are great. The one difference where we need help from the industry is when we adopt a new workforce. And let’s say they’re Google Hangout, using that behind the scenes. They might continue to use Google Hangout until we show them our Polycom site.” […] “What we’re doing now is showing them: ‘Don’t use Hangout, use CloudAXIS. It’s just browser-based conferencing, one link away.’” - Case Murphy, Senior Manager, AV & Conferencing Solutions, AOL Inc.
“What we’ve seen at AOL is that we’ve gotten away from 6 to 8 to 12-person conferences rooms. We’re now huddle spaces with 2 people or 3 people where that type of technology will work. Our CEO ripped out all of the executive offices, put those guys into cubes, and then made those offices into huddle spaces that are video-enabled so that they could go in and collaborate, go back into the workforce, and then go in and collaborate. When that started happening, we’re seeing that all over the place now. So, the technology or ability for video to be good has now changed how we’re actually building our facilities.” - Case Murphy, Senior Manager, AV & Conferencing Solutions, AOL Inc.
The closing question from moderator was: “5 years from now in 2019, are we still going to be talking about interoperability? Are we still going to be talking about cloud coming? And, managed services? About how manufacturers don’t talk to each other? Will we have made progress or what will have changed?” The answers (in alphabetical order):
AOL: We’ll always be talking about interoperability. That’s the nature of the beast of manufacturers and what they’re doing sitting on the edge of technology. In 5 years, from my side on AOL, most of our enterprise services will be out in the cloud by that time, so I think we’ll be pretty much in that space.
Acano: Death, taxes and interoperability issues. We’ll be talking about in perpetuity. With regards to the cloud, I think we’ll be talking about the cloud. If it’s the cloud as we view it today, I think the train has left the station, but I think it will evolve. It’s one of the expectations of the consumer base, so by definition, I think we’ll be talking about. We always talk about interesting things. I think we’ll find unique ways of leveraging the cloud for different things. The last thing I think we’ll be talking about 5 years from now, maybe a little bit earlier: UC your way on your terms. What I mean by that is the consumption of APIs. APIs are now being demanded of vendors. We, as a consumer base, are starting to demand a little more autonomy with how we consume UC. We know our corporate cultures better than vendors know our corporate cultures, so we’re demanding some customization. ‘If you’re not going to give me customization, let me customize it, so please give me an API so I can customize it for my organization.’ And I think we’re seeing a lot more of that. So, I think there will be a lot more customizations that people will start to expose to public environment that other companies might be interested in.
Cisco: I agree with the cloud, and the cloud-fusion concept. We’re going to be talking about cloud. How do we take the best of everything we’ve invested in, everything you guys have invested in, and how do we make it the best experience, and how do we deliver the best experience? And, we will be talking about interoperability as well. I hope we talk more about the concept of ‘better than being there.’ How do we augment the collaboration environment where I know about you. I know last week you went out and did something with your family. All that augmented reality stuff that really allow us to know more about the people we’re talking to. To be able to collaborate better with the process that we’re working through. In five years I want to be talking about that, and a whole lot less about interoperability. Interoperability is always going to be an issue. We’re not talking about interoperability and pushing each other hard enough, as vendors, to really answer the cause. We’re going to talk about business outcomes. Way beyond our firewalls, way beyond our enterprise borders, and really take this to business process, and business to business. I don’t know about you guys, but I think we’re just getting started. This is like the birth of collaboration, digital collaboration. 5 years from now, I think the world’s going to be a whole lot different than what we’re seeing today.
Henry: I think cloud is the tides of the high-tech industry. It comes and it goes. The first cloud is called the mainframe, and then we had client server. Yes, we’ll still be talking about it. Will it be coming or going in five years? I’m not sure, but we’ll be talking about it. You can bank on that. Interoperability? Yes, absolutely. We really don’t talk about voice interoperability. The interoperability issue will advance. My hope is that we’ll be talking about the interoperability of context between everyone’s systems. What is the process, persona, location and device that’s involved in the collaboration, as opposed to sharing media streams.
Polycom: We’ll definitely be talking about interop because if we are not, that means our ability to advance the technology has died, which would be bad or everyone. And, cloud will play a much bigger role. Every analyst and projection for cloud is that it’s going to go from cloud services today from roughtly 40B to 240B by 2018, so if that holds true, we’ll have many reasons to talk about cloud. What I think we’ll see is a bit of a shift from talking about technology and moving towards application and outcome-based discussions. One of the things we’re really looking at now, especially on our services side is: instead of saying, ‘well, our solution works; the product works; it works as defined; it works as you’d expect, and as you bought it.’ It’s: ‘Are you achieving the results and getting the outcomes intended by deploying these solutions?’ That comes at a price from the perspective that it is an incremental service. The vendor -it could be any vendor, but in this example it's Polycom- has a vested interest with the customer. It's not just getting them to buy a piece of equipment or to lease or pull it from the cloud, but to effectively get the productivity gain or whatever type of gain they’re expecting, and have an ongoing interactive dialogue with those manufacturers and a relationship that lasts beyond a PO and a delivery. I’m hoping that’s the sort of dialogues we’re having more of in that timeframe than we do today.
Sabre: I think manufacturers, both software and hardware, will start to differentiate themselves rather than on protocol and technology being specific to “if you want this, then you have to go with this vendor,” I think they’re going to start moving into other areas where they can differentiate. For instance, ability to deploy, management, and add-ons. I think it feels like we’re going to move more into cloud. Everything’s moving more into cloud. I think the trend is going to continue that way. That’s the direction I want to see. I’m tired of investing tons of money in hardware that I’m deathly afraid to upgrade and mess with. I really want that pushed up. People want to downsize the amount of staff they’ve got. I think cloud would make a lot more sense. We definitely will still have interoperability issues. HD and Blu-Ray, right? There’s always going to be that kind of battle going on. I think manufacturers that will survive will get out of that mode of trying to say: my protocol or the highway. They’ll get out of that and offer something that works everywhere.”
Tata Communications: I think I’m in agreement with everyone here. Yes, yes and yes across the three questions you asked. With interoperability, as long as consumers want choice, then I think there’s always going to be an issue with interop. Choice is a good thing. We’re all in business because consumers want options, and we provide a multitude of different options to the consumer base out there. From a cloud perspective, yes, I do think we’ll be talking about cloud in 5 years. Whether that’s private cloud, public cloud, co-cloud, cloud fusion, I think there’s going to be some of that. It depends on your industry. There’s some that can do that in the cloud, there’s other that form in the cloud, so I think there’s a place for that. When you asked if we’ll be communicating with other vendors. I think that’s happening today. Maybe not on as wide of a level as the industry would like, but I know, speaking for my own company, we have partnerships already. We talk and are in discussions with Cisco, Microsoft, and we’re trying to solve that interoperability play to provide ubiquitous access to voice, video and web conferencing services. That’s ultimately what we’re after. Once we deliver on that and can allow everybody to connect they want to, then we can start to talk about some of these other tools and how to bring them into the environment.
During John’s presentation (titled: “How UCC is Driving New Revenue Growth in Businesses”), he shared the data point that UC revenues in 2011 were at $22.8 billion, but by 2018 they’re expected to reach a whopping $61.9 billion. There are a lot of forces at play here driving this growth. We live in a world that is more connected than ever. Billions of people are using their mobile devices for social, like video chat or watching videos. Billions of videos are viewed online each day and over half are on mobile devices. Being connected is the new norm for our society, especially for younger generations that are quickly entering the workforce.
For businesses, video collaboration is the new standard in communications. It is evolving rapidly – how it’s used, where it’s used, by whom and for what. It has become a key player when talking about enterprise productivity. The obvious benefit people jump to when they think of video conferencing for businesses is travel savings, but it goes far beyond this. Businesses can save on downtime, training costs, sales, time to market and recruiting. As part of his presentation, John touched on how there’s a shift in the conversation, which is moving away from talking about the nuts and bolts of technology, and moving toward more application and outcome-based discussions. This part of the session brought about some great examples of how organizations across industries like education, the public sector, engineering, real estate, and healthcare are using UC in new and exciting ways, and reaping the benefits. From these examples, we learned that businesses should think holistically, plan for interoperability and demand flexibility when considering UC.
Did you attend InfoComm this week? If so, what other presentations did you find useful? Share with us in the comments section below.