March 27, 2013
Last week I attended Enterprise Connect 2013 where I had over two dozen one-on-one briefings with UC technology and services vendors. Highlights included Microsoft’s keynote by Derek Burney (Corporate VP, Skype Division) the content of which was almost entirely live-demos of Lync mobile and room-based video conferencing run on Lync Online (including using several mobile devices, not all Windows OS, with Smart’s Lync room screens – which performed better that at the Smart booth). The very heavy load on the venue’s Wi-Fi network (which the Cisco keynote demo suffered from the previous day) made the performance particularly impressive. [NB: Funny how comms’ folk are still impressed when the technology performs before a live audience the way it did in the lab.]
Another noteworthy demo was BT Conferencing and Dolby’s demo of very high quality sound-around audioconferencing. This was impressive due to the amount of time most of us spend on audioconferencing or videoconferencing calls where it’s near impossible for a remote attendee to break in, and where side-bar conversations in a meeting room are typically mostly or entirely lost. Moreover, it works equally well with a cheap headphone ($30 models actually work probably better than much more expensive ones that might cause ‘interference’ on the line) – and on Apple as well as Windows devices.
On the mobility side – BlackBerry attracted a steady stream of lingering and enthusiastic visitors to their booth looking to put their hands on the new Z10 devices and meet sales executives. The demo was simple and practical, and the comments I heard were without exception very enthusiastic – yes, including from Apple users, which many of the visitors were. By contrast, a competitor’s booth opposite had very light traffic the several times that I passed by and regardless of time of day, even though it has a very strong consumer market presence.
Video was everywhere, but not hyped. All the UC vendors I encountered have addressed room-based video integration, and most also have an iPad-based solution for easy handoff’s between devices. It was hard to call out a star performer in that category, but it was reassuring that all the vendors seem to have gotten over the rip-and-replace mentality, and accept the permanency of a multi-vendor world that includes iOS; most weren’t as clear about other mobile OSes for mobile videoconferencing, but plan to take a closer look this year.