The annual Enterprise Connect conference is the place to be for businesses looking to stay up to date on the latest in enterprise communication and collaboration technology. This year's event, held in Orlando, Fla., brought together industry leaders and innovators to showcase their latest products and services. The challenge for attendees was sorting through a market that is rapidly innovating at a significantly accelerated pace than it was more than two years ago. While many businesses have clearly modified how they communicate with employees and customers, they are currently exhausting resources to track the adoption of the current technology in use, understand usage of features, maintain high-quality user experience, measure the value of usage and balance automation between virtual and physical communication channels.
A few themes jumped out at the event:
- Unification and interoperability. Most businesses have multiple communication and collaboration platforms, and while they may be utilized for different communication streams today, there is an appetite to minimally have oversight across these platforms.
- CRM integration. In the spirit of standardized business process and workflows, expect to see more integration with CRM platforms. New business workflows and improved customer experience will drive some of the initial adoption.
- Clicks, not code. Anticipate communication and collaboration platforms to generate code to help rapidly establish personalized workflows as part of an automated routine for employees. The ideal outcome here is to simply build better response and engagement for employees.
- AI. This was a very popular topic with some practical applications, such as creating an automatic call summary, triggering events that create real-time learning opportunities in the flow of work and training models for industry-specific language and processing.
While it is easy to get caught up in the latest features and announcements, there were a couple observations that stood out as potential opportunities for the vendors on the expo floor.
The SMB market is underrepresented. The main focus from vendors over the last couple of years has been on the commercial and enterprise markets. SMBs have been able to survive in using limited capabilities of the platforms, but the timing is now ideal for vendors to renew focus on the SMBs. SMBs typically do not have dedicated teams and knowledge of these communication and collaboration platforms, but the business needs can be just as demanding as enterprise needs. Vendors have an opportunity to double down on this market to help businesses identify enhanced means of engagement, implement efficiencies through automation and share potential KPIs that validate the ROI for further investment.
In speaking with some of the attendees at the event, there was clearly a balance between the excitement and fatigue of new features and platform enhancements. It was common to hear that businesses were only using a small portion of the potential capabilities of the platform. The vendors in this area have a challenge on their hands as they race ahead with new capabilities while also bringing customers along the journey. Additionally, it's clear that the savvy users remain a small portion of overall users of these communication and collaboration platforms, leaving an opportunity for the vendors to address a large user population within these businesses. I believe the next wave of success we will see in the market will be from the platform provider that is able to pull in and appeal to these users in a simple and easy-to-consume manner.
Overall, Enterprise Connect 2023 was an exciting event for businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to communication and collaboration technology. The event also exposed new opportunities within the market that vendors should consider a priority.