Did We Miss Something in the Clouds?

Enterprise Connect 2017 is showing a ramification of cloud which has been understated: the pool is now open, and the race is on to get your company to dive in.

Not this fabulous pool at the Gaylord, but the pool of work which consists of docs, spreadsheets, CRM, ERP, workflow, digital whiteboards, databases, voice, video, messaging and UC.

Pre-cloud, it was too difficult to integrate these aspects into “collaboration”. Voice, video, messaging and UC were the focus of past Enterprise Connects, even though the majority of work was done elsewhere.

However, “elsewhere” was largely locked up in private data centers and IT-managed systems. Good luck getting in or out of those pools.

Now, with work largely done on cloud-native, API-linked SaaS systems, well…the pool is open. Cisco, IBM and Microsoft are all leading with workspace-centric solutions. Twilio wants you to use their APIs to build your own pool. Amazon is making it simple for you to jump in their contact center pool.

All of them will infuse their pools with Artificial Intelligence (AI) waters to entice you in or keep you in. I’ve talked about how voice is the new voice. Collaboration may very well be the new collaboration. And, with cloud-hosted collaboration SaaS, I believe these collaboration-centric pools will be much more attractive than the Unified Communications centric pools of the past, which were often shallow due to the lack of integration with the actual work at hand. This in turn makes UC far more interesting as it can now really be contextual.

We have so much cloud fatigue due to the relentless cloud washing of recent years that I think most of us missed this ramification of cloud – I know I did. Enterprise Connect 2017 is showing it in spades.

Amazon Connect – Trojan Horse?

Amazon’s cloud hosted contact center, Amazon Connect, garnered the most attention today. The trojan horse here may be AI. Don’t underestimate Amazon’s motivation to use this data to improve Amazon Polly and Amazon Lex, their AI services.

Yes, Amazon can arguably monetize contact centers better than anyone by integrating with their marketplaces, and contact centers in turn can help make Amazon marketplaces more sticky. However, my guess is Amazon’s long-term motivation is training Polly, Lex and future AI services to help entice you to jump into all kinds of future Amazon pools. Training AI algorithms is not simple and nor is feeding then data sets by which they can self-learn. When we presented NetFoundry’s AppWAN for Watson solution last week, the top question we got was how long does it take to train IBM Watson. Amazon may have found a very nice way to train Polly and Lex – a very nice customer funded R&D project.

Missing?

Not much WebRTC chatter. Partially because WebRTC is simply “baked in” to many solutions (as it should be) and no longer “news” or considered “differentiation”. But perhaps due to other reasons? The use of WebRTC data channel for collaboration and presentation has certainly not grown as I expected it to.

I also expected to see more enterprise IoT demonstrations and use cases. A bit early? Maybe next year we expand the pools to include the things?

Enterprise Connect 2017

Your thoughts? What delighted you, surprised you or disappointed you? What was missing?