Team collaboration, APIs, communication platforms-as-a-Service (CPaaS) were all trending topics at this year’s Enterprise Connect 2017 conference in Orlando  (March 27-30).

There were an array of “workstream communication and collaboration” solutions on display from Cisco, Microsoft, Slack, Google, Amazon and many more. It appears everyone has an oar in the water in 2017 including the traditional voice players such as Avaya, Shoretel, Mitel, Broadsoft and pure cloud players 8×8 and RingCentral. The takeway seems to be how to wade through all the alternatives and hype to take advantage of productivity gains associated with enhanced and effective team collaboration. Do you start with yet another siloed application or look for integration and synergy from your existing unified communications and collaboration partner?  Significant innovation in virtual workspaces are proliferating while many vendors such as Logitech and Polycom are enhancing the physical meeting space experience. These offerings are bridging the gap between virtual workspaces and physical meeting rooms.

The trend is clear regarding integrating UC functions into business applications. APIs are making it easier to embed these capabilities into workflows and business process. Another approach, CPaaS  is becoming more available and a viable option. This is significant as UC is fulfilling the vision of becoming more platform than product. Vendors such as Twilio and Neximo are faring well with larger enterprises that have the development staff to fully leverage communications into their business applications, however, CPaaS will need to get dumbed down for the main stream enterprise market to move in scale. The question arises among CIOs as to whether capabilities like organization wide voice, chat and video will be provided through CPaaS as ubiquitous services. This is where UCaaS players come into the picture. Traditional UC vendors offer the ability to run an enterprise phone and other communications as hosted services or support on-premises based communications. These vendors include UC players that continue to offer premise-based solution while transitioning to the cloud and are now targeting CPaaS.

Digital transformation and the customer experience were also front and center at the conference. The use of digital technologies to improve customer service hits the contact center head on as legacy offerings trail in this area. Changing the way businesses interact with customers requires more than a state-of-the-art, omnichannel contact center. Incorporating CRM, UC, artificial intelligence, and contextual information are all important part of enhancing the customer experience. Digital transformation of the contact center industry will be hotly contested over the next several years.

As the foremost North American event for enterprise IP Telephony, Converged Networks and Unified Communications, Enterprise Connect has transformed over the past few years along with the accelerated advances in the communications industry.  Just a few years ago the show seemed to have lost its tempo but new entrants and legacy players in this space have punched new life into the event and it looks like an “A” list conference for the next few years.