Unified Communications Featured Article

From Microsoft to Millennials, The Future of UC

February 09, 2017

The cloud is empowering the next generation of technology; from the data center to your deskphone, the tipping point of transformation is at hand. A topic all the buzz is enterprise communications and collaboration, with UCaaS and the power of the cloud taking center stage. There are certainly slight variances across the industry in terms of what collaboration entails, but there appears to be clear-cut consensus on the cloud. And, ITEXPO brought together a few industry leaders to add some insight.

What the future will look like for the UC space was center stage during ITEXPO’s first session of the day: “UC – Innovation Awaits.” Moderated by TMC CEO Rich Tehrani, some illuminating points were raised by the panel comprised of 8x8’s Matt McGinnis, RingCentral’s Curtis Peterson and Broadsoft’s Mark Straton.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

Tehrani posed the question to the audience as to whether or not we should be catering technology to millenials, and the clear majority of attendees said yes. So, while we are neck deep in an era of innovation, what does this mean? It translates to seamless contextual experiences; millennials work differently than previous generations...which leads me to the notion of voice.

“Voice is a big deal, that’s how business gets done,” Straton exclaimed. Naming integrated workspaces as what he considers “the big kahuna,” for the future he expects iterations of consolidation in the market to move away from this notion of adding standalone app after standalone app, noting “a gazillion applications isn’t worth it.” The workspace must be integrated – voice, messaging, context and filter. Straton wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re hanging ten on this trend, but we are certainly moving in that direction with the end game a fully integrated and seamless experience.

The companies composing the panel have spent years in the enterprise voice game, and all had much to say about Microsoft’s jaunt into the space. Peterson noted how difficult it is to play catch-up, however, predicts a marketplace of solutions that pick up where OTTs have started, stating, “If everyone is shopping for solutions, they need to find a solution that fits need.” It is here where Microsoft projects to be a capable UC player in the future – when the Skype for Business feature set is completed.

“Microsoft, in my judgment, if you fast forward five years they slug it out with Broadsoft,” touted Straton. “Microsoft has desktop, but a lot of people don’t trust them in the voice.” Confident that Microsoft will eventually summit the mountain, however, he explained, “They need robust applications and a financially strong vendor...complete, proven portfolio...This is a scale game, so long term I think Broadsoft is in a really strong place.”

McGinnis moved the conversation to something millienials are enamored with, instant messaging, highlighting early OTT winners like Slack and Hipchat that offer experiences with a foundation in IM. Success in UC is all about interconnecting a toolset of preferred capabilities, tying a team together, which includes a focus on IM and real time communications.  

McGinnis and Peterson both pointed out something that will be mission critical in the long term: open source. Peterson explained, leveraging an open platform, open approach opens the door to immense opportunity. McGinnis echoed the sentiment, explaining “When you are directly working with cloud vendor and open components, APIs, you can really think about integrating that into your workflow,” continuing to note the empowerment comes from thinking outside the box in delivering communications in the most effective and appropriate place. Poignantly stating, “there’s a reason app development and open development is future proof.”

The future for UC is without a doubt in the cloud. And, while each of these industry titans of cloud innovation may take somewhat different approaches to collaboration, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” With ITEXPO in full swing, the energy is palpable, as it is THE communications and business transformation event of the year.




Edited by Alicia Young




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