Remember pre lockdown? The unified communications (UC) industry had a packed calendar of live events. Then it abruptly stopped. Lockdown. Social distancing. Work from home. Live events cancelled and online events popping up everywhere, ranging from glorified web pages with a chat function to full on 3D virtual reality experiences. We’ve all experienced good and bad online events in the last 18 months and while I’m in no doubt that online event fatigue is real, I also believe that online event organisers have learned so much, so quickly, that future virtual events will be much better.
The other good news is that live in-person events are back! AudioCodes has embraced this with open arms (plus COVID passports and negative tests of course, the new entry passes for events). After 18 months of only seeing people via video call, live events are a great opportunity for customers, partners and vendors to network like crazy and cram in lots of learning about the latest and greatest in UC technology. The buzz, interaction and engagement at live events cannot be matched virtually. We humans are social animals, after all.
In the last few weeks, the AudioCodes team in the UK has attended two events.
Commsverse, 15-16 September at Mercedes-Benz World, Weybridge, UK
AudioCodes was proud to be a headline sponsor at Commsverse, the Microsoft Teams Tech Conference. It’s an event for the Teams community, by the Teams community, organised by Microsoft MVPs passionate about how Teams can make businesses more productive. Commsverse brings Teams experts together like no other event. From AudioCodes, Jay Wyatt spoke on “Microsoft Teams, Adding Value Beyond Voice Connectivity” and John Stewart-Murray spoke on “Tackling Complexity – the Technical Challenges of Teams Migration”. You can check out their sessions here.
UC Expo (UCX), 6-7 October at ExCel, London, UK
UC Expo (or UCX as it’s now called) is positioned as Europe’s leading exhibition for the UC market, held at the massive ExCel conference centre in London. Up until only a few months ago, ExCel was a COVID field hospital, a startling reminder of the difficult journey we’ve been on as a society. AudioCodes had a booth directly opposite the Microsoft Technology theatre in which Jay Wyatt again spoke on how enterprises can add value to Teams beyond voice connectivity – improving the meeting experience, conversational IVR, quality and compliance call recording and integrating chatbots with voice. Visitors also got to play with our latest IP phones for Teams and Zoom Phone, as well as new Meeting Room devices such as the RXV80 video collaboration bar.
Attending the first two UC events since lockdown is a good time to reflect on what’s changed since we last attended industry events, back in 2019. Here are five of my personal takeaways:
Microsoft leading the charge – Microsoft has emerged from lockdown as a leader in the UC market and the benchmark for enterprise collaboration, with 250 million daily active users at the hub of the modern workplace. At Commsverse this was the entire theme of the event, which tells its own story. But UC Expo (UCX) was also dominated by providers supporting the Microsoft Teams ecosystem – from SBCs to IP phones, to meeting room devices to management tools, plus call recording, contact centre integration, apps to improve the meeting experience and much more. Great for AudioCodes as we can offer all of this, whereas most competitors can only provide one or two elements of it!
Zoom challenging positively – Zoom is clearly serious about accelerating its growth in the enterprise UC market, building on its strong video foundation with Zoom Phone and BYOC to connect with enterprises’ preferred service providers. They had a strong presence and a busy stand at UC Expo (UCX), and it’s clear that most enterprises not yet committed to a specific platform will include Zoom in their UC shortlist. As well as Zoom themselves, a growing ecosystem of device and meeting room providers that integrate with Zoom were very visible at the show, including AudioCodes of course.
It’s getting cloudy out there – The shift from legacy PBX infrastructure to cloud-based UC has been developing for several years now, but it was very evident at UC Expo (UCX). Whereas the cloud UC providers such as 8x8 and RingCentral each had a huge presence, the big brand traditional PBX vendors were noticeable by their absence at an event they used to dominate.
Subscription services rule OK – Linked to the cloud-oriented delivery for UC technology, the commercial model has changed too. Pretty much everything on show at both events could be procured as a subscription-based service. The pandemic has clearly accelerated the move away from capex-based procurement towards budget-friendly subscription-based managed services. Need IP phones? That’s “Device as a Service”. Need an SBC? That’s “Direct Routing as a Service”. Simple, scalable, and far more agile for those managing IT budgets. AudioCodes’ own Live for Microsoft Teams managed service was the topic of many positive discussions as a result.
CX/CC is an integral part of UC – Yes, I know, too many acronyms! But it was interesting to see Customer Interaction (CX)/Contact Centre (CC) providers such as Anywhere365 at both Commsverse and UC Expo (UCX). A real sign that the worlds of contact centre and unified communications technology are more integrated than ever, given the critical role that both play in improving the customer experience as well as team collaboration.
As a final observation, live events are fun. And very tiring! But it’s just great to meet customers after a long period of remote existence. AudioCodes already has good business outcomes through these events, and we’re looking forward to joining Commsverse and UC Expo (UCX) in 2022. In the more immediate future though, the AudioCodes team would be delighted to see you as in-person events start to return safely around the world between now and the end of the year:
- Comms vNext: 25-26 October in Denver, Colorado, USA
- VAF Jahrestagung Technik und Service: 5-6 November in Bremen, Germany
- Westcon Innovation Conference: 16 November in Diegem, Belgium
- European Collaboration Summit: 29 November-1 December in Düsseldorf, Germany