Highlights from Enterprise Connect 2017: Cloud, APIs, Team Collaboration, Physical Meeting Rooms, and More

First and foremost, we’d like to thank to everyone who visited the Vyopta booth at Enterprise Connect 2017. From what I was able to witness, you did a great job getting fingerprints on our Vyopta monitors and kept the Vyopta team busy with questions about our product and recent integration with Zoom. It was great to hear directly from our users how valuable the ability to monitor cloud, on-premise, and hybrid environments is due to the current trends within the unified communications space (which we’ll dive into below).

Also, how much fun was our happy hour at Wreckers Sports bar with our beloved partner Pexip? I mean, come on! 

Key Themes at Enterprise Connect 2017

This year Enterprise Connect sessions covered everything. Topics ranged from the most basic to some of the latest and greatest. However, we quickly noticed some key themes that grounded every session, conversation, and product release. Here’s how things shook out from our perspective.

#1. Evolution of the Cloud Value Proposition

Although the idea of the cloud is nothing new, the value proposition seemed to evolve a bit this year. Instead of being “cheaper” and “faster,” the majority of UCaaS provider visions regarding cloud is how to use the cloud to create new ways of working and new experiences for end-users

David Danto made a great point in his panel discussion around how to develop a cloud strategy when he said, “there is no one-size-fits-all for cloud.” As cloud video services continue to grow in popularity, vendors and enterprises will need to continue to explore new ways of implementing the capabilities that their users will actually use. After all, the only way to truly make cloud the “cheaper” and “faster” option, will be to focus on end-user adoption.

#2. Open APIs Have Never Been More Important

Although we know communications APIs promise a future in which communications can be added to core business applications in an effort to produce efficiencies, it was often debated as to whether or not this was currently happening. Every company seemed to focus heavily on what could be done with their programming interfaces this year vs. what is being done today. This is highly significant if we really want to see UC finally live up to the vision of providing a truly “unified” experience for end-users by enabling them to use more UC functions in applications more frequently.

Beth Schultz moderated a panel discussion titled, “Messaging & Team Collaboration: Overhyped, or the Next Platform?” with Unify, Atlassian, Microsoft, RingCentral, and Cisco. It was here we heard one of our favorite quotes from the entire event, “it’s very important as vendors or professionals to ensure everything is open and able to work together.” We thought this single line summed things up quite well for this year.

#3. Huge Opportunity in Team Collaboration

Building on the theme of API, team collaboration was taken to a whole new level this year. Although there were many sessions discussing team collaboration, there has been an obvious influx of competitors. Cisco had Cisco Spark on display, BroadSoft was demonstrating Team-One, RingCentral was “Glipping,” Mitel showed off MiTeam, Microsoft introduced the audience to Teams in their keynote session – it was bananas. However, one of the more interesting products in this category is SameRoom, recently acquired by 8×8, which unites multiple chat apps so a Slack user can send messages to Spark users, for example.

Sameroom—Keeping It Real-Time from Sameroom.io on Vimeo.

This concept of layering chat tools leads me back to the API section above. We’re really just skimming the surface of what’s possible when it comes to how things work together to help teams be more productive. Although companies are working hard to ensure their own tools work well together (e.g., Atlassian with HipChat, JIRA, and Confluence), we well know that large companies rarely purchase from one technology vendor but rather purchase whatever tools are preferred by their end-users.

If they aren’t, they should be.

Currently, larger organizations are dealing with multi-vendor environments. Not only do they have multiple vendors across each vertical (e.g., chat), but they also select several tools within each vertical. Imagine the impact that could be had on company productivity (and hopefully revenue) if vendors focused on playing well with one another.

The best could be yet to come.

#4. Physical Meeting Spaces Are Still a Thing

Virtual meeting rooms have been all the rage over the past few years. In fact, Cisco may take the industry term “virtual meetings room” to a whole new level with their VR announcement this year that appears to be receiving mixed reviews so far.

However, in a recent article by Octavious Gould General Manager of North America at 3CX, that 77% of the millennial workforce would be willing to use virtual and augmented reality products at work. Cisco’s may have a solid market. We’ll just have to stay tuned since their official VR announcement isn’t planned until summer 2017.

On the flip side, a number of vendors showcased products aimed at improving the physical meeting space experience while bridging the virtual world. Cisco’s Spark Board, which won the 2017 Best of Enterprise Connect Award, is an excellent example of such a product. Aso, Logitech, Polycom, Pexip and many others had innovative meeting room technology on display at the show.

Cisco Wins “Best of Enterprise Connect” 2017

Cisco earned this year’s Best of Enterprise Connect Award competition for exhibitors with products and services that best advance enterprise communications and collaboration. Evaluated by a panel of four judges, Cisco’s Spark Board 55, announced in late January, was selected as the event’s version of best-in-show. The Spark Board 55 is earning recognition for its ability to combine wireless presentation, digital whiteboarding, and video conferencing while providing connectivity to the Cisco Spark service for continuous workflow.

“Spark board is truly innovative, which is something I look for when judging,” said Robin Gareiss. “There were many compelling entries this year, to be clear. What intrigues me about Spark Board is that it changes the way people meet, with two key enablers: the price point is affordable, and the product is intuitive so there will be a low learning curve. Also, the extensibility to multiple devices brings people into the meeting regardless of location. And finally, the ability to store and retrieve documents and drawings for the next call keeps efficiency high.”

The judges assessed all Best of Enterprise Connect entries but shortlisted six finalists to move on to the final round of in-depth briefings. In addition to Cisco, the 2017 finalists also blew our hair back.

  • BroadSoft – BroadSoft Business provides an integrated portfolio of enterprise-ready cloud PBX, UC, team collaboration, and contact center applications
  • Genband – UC client focused on dynamic integration of applications
  • Plantronics –Plantronics Manager Pro v3.9 analytics suite provides operational, historical, and contextual data on voice interactions and headset usage patterns
  • Polycom – EagleEye Director II is an in-room smart camera featuring active speaker technology and picture-in-picture room display, plus data analytics
  • Vonage – The Nexmo Voice API, integrated with Vonage’s carrier-grade network, enables development of high-quality contextual voice applications in the cloud

Here you can create the content that will be used within the module.

Recommended Keynotes and General Sessions

Although we’re still waiting for the session recordings to be posted, this year’s Enterprise Connect session list and the full list of keynote speakers were pretty incredible. Here were some of our favorites.

Jens Meggers, PhD
Sr. Vice President and General Manager Cloud Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco

Jeff Lawson
Founder, CEO & Chairman, Twilio


Also, feel free to let us know how you think Lawson handled the fact that the internet went out for his demo. We had to tip our hat to him. 

SESSION: Messaging & Team Collaboration: Overhyped, or the Next Platform?

  • Beth Schultz – Enterprise Connect/No Jitter
  • Diane Salvatora – Unify
  • Oji Udezue – Atlassian
  • Dan Stevenson – Microsoft
  • Kira Makagon – RingCentral
  • Richard Townhill – Cisco



SESSION: Tools & Methods for Managing Hybrid Cloud Communications (UCaaS)

  • Terry Slattery – NetCraftsmen
  • Ray Krug – NETSCOUT
  • Skip Chilcott – IR Prognosis
  • David Roberts – Riverbed



Other Fun Happenings and Photos

If you’re interested, check out our Vyopta Twitter feed for more session details or fun happenings. Also, Enterprise Connect was kind enough to pull together this handy photo portal for you to snoop through or leverage for any presentations you have to give after the event (we know how that can be).

We hope you had as much fun as we did this year! Or, f you didn’t make it hopefully this post will be just what you needed to convince your boss you need to be there in 2018. If so, be sure to come and visit us – we’ll be there!