If you’re a technical person and you hear the term UC or UCC (unified communications and collaboration), it’s probably familiar enough to evoke images in your mind. Maybe you see a bunch of people in an office wearing headsets connected to their PCs instead of using phones. Maybe it’s an image of an employee sitting in a park somewhere, working as seamlessly as if they’re in an office. Maybe you see an executive zipping through an airport, joining meetings from his or her smartphone or tablet. Maybe you see yourself avoiding a daily commute, working from home. Maybe it’s all of those and more.
Whatever the images, we have to admit that we’ve been talking about UCC for about 17 years now. It should have become well defined and well embedded in organizations by now — but it really has not. The slow pace of UCC adoption is due to many factors — technology management in silos, manufacturer obfuscation, product immaturity, user confusion, the lack of required adoption processes, and others. Obtaining the latest information on all these factors, and gaining enough of an understanding of the space to break through the logjam, is not easy to do – usually.
The annual InfoComm show, coming up June 13-19, includes the Unified Communications and Collaboration Solution Summit – presented by the IMCCA. It is a one- of-a-kind annual opportunity to understand what’s changing in this very complex world. (Find registration information.) And this year, the changes being covered are significant. Here are some trends you’ll learn about at the UCC Solutions Summit:
AV Conference Rooms Will Never Be The Same. If you walk around enterprise offices nowadays, you tend to see a handful of big, overcomplicated 1980s-style integrated AV rooms — either not being used or not being used for their technology. Meanwhile groups of three to five people wander around the hallways, struggling to find an appropriate place to meet. The complex, integrated AV room is taking a back seat to new, smaller, simpler technology rooms that can do only a couple of things very well. These rooms are less expensive to build, easier to implement/manage/troubleshoot, at less of a risk from a security perspective, and will become the majority of room types going forward. A new class of devices for “huddle rooms” and other off-the-shelf systems are flooding the market, with some of them providing excellent experiences and others…well, not. Not everyone understands how to recognize the differences.
Workspaces For Tomorrow Are Different. Working doesn’t mean going to your parent’s office anymore. Offices are streamlined, energy-efficient, respectful of different work styles — and smaller. Work is no longer where you go, it’s what you do. It may be from a home office or while traveling, with each new style creating tangible, reportable cost savings and productivity increases. These workspaces will be disruptive. They’ll leverage a smartphone or wearable, or a cloud service that no enterprise technology manager planned for but woke-up one day and found half the organization’s employees using. Whatever the case, the workspace of tomorrow is now. These new workspaces won’t just give your competition an edge up in the marketplace, they’ll change the marketplace and make obsolete organizations that don’t adapt. If you’re not adapting your offices now, it’s likely your competition is already passing you by.
Personal Devices Have Changed The Game. Mobility is a key component of UCC. It supports the modern business traveler taking out his or her iPad and getting on a video call from the airport. It supports the executive balancing parenthood and career in the stands at a child’s sports game using his or her smartphone to send edits to colleagues working on a contract. It supports the engineer whose commute to the office has been reduced from a 90-minute train ride to a 30-second trot down the stairs to his or her desk at home. When organizations adopt a collaboration strategy that incorporates a solid mobility component, it opens up the world to productivity. Meetings can be attended from wherever a person is — using whatever tool is handy. Advanced reservations for rooms and facilities are no longer a bottleneck to productivity. As more millennials enter the workforce — generally accepting of high reliability but lower-quality visual collaboration — mobility becomes a key differentiator for agile enterprises.
Enterprise Interactive Collaboration Has Changed From Smart To Dumb. Interactive whiteboards and write-on screens have been around for years. In environments where they had dedicated users (like a teacher in a school classroom or an engineer at a design firm’s lab), they thrived. In typical enterprise collaboration spaces, however, they…well…less than thrived. For years, enterprise executives would attend parent-teacher conferences, become infatuated with the cool boards, and then order them for their firms — where they were mostly unused. The reason you could place a complex device in a classroom is because there is usually one teacher who “owns” it — and that teacher would be honored to take the time to learn to use it. But you couldn’t place a complex device in a general-purpose enterprise meeting room and expect the average user to invest the time needed to learn to use it. If they couldn’t figure it out in the first minute, they just avoided it. After years of repeating that cycle, we’re finally seeing a new class of simple interactive whiteboards — devices meant to be used in the enterprise with no specialized training — and these seem to be taking-off.
In addition to several in-depth trends sessions, the UCC Solutions Summit at InfoComm 2015 includes general UC overviews, which you can attend in either 90-minute sessions or at an all-day seminar. There is an introduction to that required (and usually missing) formal adoption program I mentioned earlier. And there are a couple of lunch-and-learn sessions on Wed. and Thurs. explaining the state of the industry and products from the perspectives of manufacturers, service providers and end users.
It’s a not-to-be missed opportunity to network and learn about the state of UCC from professionals and peers. If UCC is a space you care about, then there’s no good reason not to be there. Visit the InfoComm 2015 registration site and click the leftmost “Conferences” icon for everything you need to know about signing up for the UCC Solutions Summit sessions.