11 March 2013

Your Guide to Enterprise Connect

As we get ready for Enterprise Connect it’s important to remember you’ll see nothing revolutionary, nothing breathtaking and certainly nothing you can’t live without. You’ll see the tiny steps of evolution (or God’s infinite hand, if “evolve” is a problem).  Even the Gaylord Palms has evolved since VoiceCom began its unmoving settlement with updated pools and new sushi and sports bars all while maintaining their infamously awful internet connectivity.

Here’s a smattering of what visitors will see and dilettantes will miss.

Marketing Hyperbole
Every trade show it’s the same , hundreds of manufacturers screaming “pick me.”  Here are a few of my favourites.

Any, Any, Any
The latest evolution masquerading as revolution is the word “any.”  The slide below is from the year 2000 and mentions “any” seven times on the slide.  One wouldn’t think you could get any more “any” than that, but here we are 13 years later hailing BYOD and social media as revolutionary when they’re just another “any.”  The only surprise on this slide is recalling that Aspect was once considered the “Starting Point” of “any” thing.


Solutions, Solutions, Solutions
Consider that all manufacturers make silos and that for decades have been telling the market (and themselves) they’ve evolved into a holistic, customer-embracing “solution” fount.  It’s always been a smokescreen.  Makers care about interconnectivity as long as it cuts out competitors, generates revenue and doesn’t eat into profits. Need an antique command-line driven application connected?  Cha-ching to the professional services team.  But don’t feel used, customers use makers in much the same way.  

Microsoft Lync is a silo that connects to other Microsoft silos like Office, SharePoint and Exchange. It doesn’t connect to applications it deems competitive like salesforce.com.  Ditto for Avaya, Cisco and every other supplier an organization has. Do you really believe a unicorn makes Cisco networking gear uniquely suited for Communications Manager? No, Cisco is just less interested in your business without the pull-through of the rest of the high-margin kingdom. 

To go completely off-topic, I’m loving seeing Cisco and Microsoft go at it.  Both have spent decades building their cults of certified followers and now finally the Narnian battle is ready to begin.  Which will prevail only to be crushed by the next big thing in 10 years? If Cisco helped cripple Nortel, is Microsoft helping to cripple Avaya?

Savings, Savings, Savings
Every salesperson in every booth at every trade show shouts how much money you’ll save if you buy their solution/silo. And while salespeople selling savings are as old as time (which depending on your intelligence is either 6,000 years or a few billion) it’s usually only true under very few, and sometimes scientifically controlled, circumstances. That said, if you’re employing legions of uniformed messengers to hand-deliver written notes between your staff, chances are instant messaging will save you a few dollars on salaries and shoe leather over time.

Selling Your Soul for a Chance to win an iPad (mini)
I suspect there are more fishbowls with business cards and Hershey’s kisses in them than fish.  Exhibitors too cheap to purchase a badge scanner usually resort to the “fishbowl lottery” to win some piece of hot tech.  Attendees must decide whether the resulting unending phone solicitations are worth the chance to win.  My advice is to buy a bag of M&Ms and avoid the fishbowl.

But it is worthwhile to keep track of the prizes.  Do you really want to do business with someone who can only muster a Kindle Paperwhite versus a Kindle Fire HD or an iPod nano versus an iPad?  No, I didn’t think so. (Hard candy versus chocolate goes without saying)

And finally…

 Join a Keynote Betting Pool
Be sure to attend the keynotes.  If Enterprise Connect would just move to Las Vegas, we could legally bet on which keynoter will get fired or quit in the coming year! As it is, you’ll just have to bet among your friends.


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