The Wainhouse Research Blog
News & Views
on Unified Communications & Collaboration
Lots of cloud-speak centered on UC, but video has all of the same advantages - and more.
If cloud nine implies a feeling of extreme happiness or euphoria, the Enterprise Connect 2017 conference and expo was well on its way to a cumulonimbus state. You couldn’t qualify for an analyst pass to the conference unless you had a cloud opinion to share, and you couldn’t position your company as a UC leader unless you could tout your cloud offering with a hybrid option. In truth, the majority of the cloud-speak related to UC (nobody says “unified communications” anymore).
Cloud strengths in the UC world revolve around dynamic and agile offerings combined with rapid customer deployment and the business shift from a CapEx to an OpEx model preferred by many but NOT all customers. Other cloud advantages that gained strong interest this year included the ability to scale massively and to bring together content from different sources and applications. This last point feeds directly into workflows, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and machine learning future. In this emerging world, the sales person will know that her prospect / customer recently financed the purchase of a new truck when she calls to sell him auto insurance.
As the video track chair, I, of course, was most interested in the video side of cloud -- or, rather, the cloud side of video. Video conferencing is a communications application, and communications has always been a services industry. Few people own their own mobile towers, phone switches, or wide area networks; instead they take advantage of carrier offerings. Using a cloud service for video has all the advantages quoted in the UC world, plus more.
A recent study published by WR based on data from 10 cloud video service providers showed a year-over-year growth rate in minutes of usage above 100%. After speaking to people on the Enterprise Connect expo floor, the natural conclusion is that cloud services are inevitable for video conferencing --with the many reasons why ranging from the technical (see bullet points above) to the social and cultural (millennials anyone?).
Also apparent, however, is that some customers are still at the stratus or cumulus levels, or stuck in ground-level fog. An Enterprise Connect panel of CTO and CIO professionals from half a dozen large enterprises discussed such topics as recovering from the 2008 economic collapse, replacing TDM PBXs with new solutions, expanding from IM to UC, and, I kid you not, upgrading from Windows XP. Innovation and business transformation indeed. Clearly the vendors are far ahead of the customer base. So, while cloud is inevitable, getting there is going to take much longer than many expect. And video is likely to lead the way.