Unified Communications Featured Article

ITEXPO Preview: The Tech Road Ahead with J Arnold & Associates

December 31, 2014

While the rest of the world is busy counting down the hours left until 2015, the tech sector is starting off 2015 with ITEXPO in Miami, happening in just 26 days. 2014 saw a lot happening in cloud communications, WebRTC, IP communications and beyond, and ITEXPO Miami promises to ring in the new year covering all of that and more. From content marketing to M2M, attendees will experience what the industry has to offer all in one place.

ITEXPO features the most important people in the industry. Jon Arnold, principal for J Arnold & Associates will be moderating two different sessions; one that covers unified communications and the other will take a look at the customer experience as a value-driver. The two topics might seem like they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but the common denominator is better business processes. With happy, repeating customers and the right communications to support them, you end up with a winning combination.

2015 holds promise for the technology players, and 2014 was no stranger to change in the overall landscape. According to Arnold, one contributing factor to the overall technology evolution is size.

“With the cloud shaping everything now, it’s all about scale and being the low cost provider,” said Arnold. “There isn’t much value now for physical infrastructure, forcing both vendors and carriers to virtualize and put as much as they can in the cloud, with SDN and NFV currently leading the way. Value now is all about who has the customers and revenues and protecting that with low cost services to keep competitors out. This type of value is difficult to monetize and all the traditional players in the communications space are making moves to defend their base. One way to do that is to scale up cloud offerings that smaller players cannot match.”

It would be difficult to quantify the many changes we’ve seen in 2014. There were plenty of wheelings and dealings, rebranding, new players entered the arena, and we’ve seen devices get smarter while machines communicated better. For Arnold, two prominent changes in 2014 stood out amongst the rest and both have to do with rebranding; the re-launch of Unify and their Circuit collaboration platform, and Microsoft abandoning the Lync name in favor of Skype for Business.

“Both speak to how the value proposition of communications is being driven increasingly by the “consumerization of IT” trend. Consumer-based innovation continues to be better and faster-paced than what happens in the workplace, and vendors have no choice but to cater now to this new reality. The tail is very much wagging the dog in the sense that employees don’t pay for any of these things, but their preferences are dictating what vendor offerings need to be,” said Arnold.

No doubt ITEXPO will be buzzing with plenty of new brands while the tried and true will showcase transformation, updates, new wares and all of the latest bells and whistles in communications and beyond. Attendees will be able to glean over what’s hot and what’s in the now, but most importantly, there will be plenty of networking for promising leads and plentiful business relationships.

“This is a great forum to get the pulse of the communications market from across the full ecosystem. The keynote roster is really strong, as is the breadth of topics in the many sub-events that run alongside the main conference program. ITEXPO remains the best event for me in terms of hitting all these touch points,” said Arnold.

Here are several other interesting thoughts from Arnold as we countdown to ITEXPO Miami 2015:

What do you think of Microsoft’s decision to rebrand Lync as Skype for Business?

Initial reaction is negative, but too soon to pass judgment. Lync has great momentum and I think the name is well established now, both as a brand and as part of Microsoft. Businesses all know both Lync and Skype, but consumers generally only know Skype. My concern is that the consumer associations with SFB will undermine MSFT’s brand equity, as well as the Lync value proposition. I know the MSFT folks feel that Skype’s name has been around longer than Lync, but it remains to be seen how effectively that will carry over when businesses are trying to decide on SFB for UC versus other household names like Cisco, Avaya, etc.

What does the recent trend toward high-profile network breaches tell us about digital security and what both businesses and individuals are doing to protect their digital assets?

The current fiasco with Sony and “The Interview” shows how vulnerable everything is in the digital world, as well as how easily hackers can create mischief and of course, much worse. Breaches like this will continue, and the call for more/better/stronger security will keep rising. Network security will remain a top priority in 2015, but in reality, we’ll never be able to create 100 percent secure environments. This focus is necessary, but businesses have a lot more work to do educating employees about “safe data” practices, which gets us closer to the root of the problem.

How often do you use video for business communications? Why do you feel it is/is not helpful in your interactions?

Not often, actually. It definitely has its place, and when it makes sense to use it, the experience is really good, even on a desktop. When it’s just two people talking, video doesn’t add much, and that’s how I most often interact with others when not face-to-face. We all know that for casual conversation, voice does the job, but when there’s something important to discuss and emotions are involved, video is great. Of course, there’s a generational element at play, and generally older people don’t care to be on camera and have a different sense of privacy than today’s younger workers. For them, video is part of the social experience where everything is shared. Going forward, this will be more the norm for communicating, but for now, there remains a real split among those who love video or do not.

Do you own and use a wearable tech product?  Which one and how has it impacted your life?

I think wearable tech is a cool idea, but it holds no appeal or utility for me. The possibilities are pretty exciting, though, and with CES coming up, we’re going to see a lot of fun products in 2015.

How useful can wearable technology be in the enterprise?

Very useful if it’s designed specifically for your job, and I have no doubt that is coming in 2015. Of course, there’s a Big Brother element to consider – especially when tied to the Internet of Things, but let’s assume that most intentions for wearable tech are good. If you shift from the enterprise to institutional settings, the former is well established already in the form of ankle bracelets to track prisoner movements inside their environs. Another related use case in the free world is by law enforcement for detecting drivers who are drinking, texting or simply distracted. On a more uplifting side, healthcare is a setting where wearable tech has tremendous benefits – both for care providers and patients. We’re just at the beginning of what’s possible in a business setting, and we’re going to see a mix of both applications designed specifically for a task or vertical market, as well as generic forms of wearable tech such as Google Glass that don’t have a particular use case.

For more on all the latest technology and trends happenings, be sure to register to attend ITEXPO, the business technology event that brings together service providers, enterprises, government agencies, resellers, vendors and developers to demo, discuss and network all the latest innovations changing the marketplace. ITEXPO is being held January 27-30, 2015, at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida.   Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter




Edited by Maurice Nagle




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