All the News from UC EXPO 2019
Read our review of this year's UC EXPO event, covering all the latest news and biggest trends
Arguably, Europe’s biggest unified communications industry event concluded this week at ExCeL London. UC EXPO 2019 attracted over 6,500 attendees, who flocked to London’s docklands to attend the two day conference and exhibition. The show this year highlighted six key areas; collaboration, cloud, networking, security and AI, for particular focus. 2019’s show also included a customer experience focus with part of the expo dubbed, Customer Contact X, specifically covering contact centre industries and technology.
As well as the delegates in attendance, over 100 of the industries’ most prominent speakers took to the various stages for a host of seminars and panel sessions covering the hottest tech topics.
What were the highlights?
Events based outside of the United States have often struggled to compete with equivalent shows based across the Atlantic, but this year’s UC EXPO included some of the world’s biggest technology companies in its field of over 120 sponsors. Many of the biggest names reaffirmed the UK show’s prominence by providing some of their most senior executives as speakers, creating a virtual ‘who’s who’ for the industry.
Cisco’s Amy Chang, General Manager of its Collaboration Division, got the show into gear with her opening keynote, reiterating Cisco’s premise of Cognitive Collaboration. Bringing greater intelligence and insight into collaborative processes is a key focus for Cisco and Chang’s on stage demonstrations highlighted how Cisco will achieve this, harnessing emerging technologies like AI.
Another global tech giant, Amazon, put forward its Principal Product Manager for Amazon Chime, Jennie Tietema. Chime, Amazon’s communication and collaboration platform, has yet to garner the industry traction some had expected but Tietema’s seminar informed the audience about how Chime will be enable business users to meet, call and collaborate with one another leveraging the security and power of Amazon Web Services.
Day two’s highlight on stage was undoubtedly Lan Ye, who is the General Manager of the Microsoft Teams platform. Her keynote drew a huge audience which overflowed from the UC Keynote Theatre into the surrounding gangways. Focusing on Microsoft Teams’ latest feature updates and its future development road map proved to be of huge interest to those in attendance.
As well as the industry’s biggest brands, your very own UC Today team took to the stage with a session comparing the Microsoft and Cisco collaboration portfolios. A detailed summary of the comparison is available in one of our Smart Guide series which can be accessed here.
As always the vendors in attendance released a host of announcements specifically for the show. With over 50 different releases, consolidating the news is never an easy task, but here is a summary of some of the main headlines.
Since its acquisition of cloud communications market leader, BroadSoft, in 2018 many have been waiting for Cisco to reveal its plans for cloud calling. Having already been made available in the United States, Webex Calling, Cisco’s native cloud solution enabling an enterprise class PBX feature set alongside the team collaboration capabilities of Webex Teams, will now be generally available throughout Europe including in the UK. Industry experts expect that this latest portfolio enhancement will enable Webex Teams to compete more directly with the Microsoft Teams offering in the collaboration space.
Following the news from Cisco, Arkadin who are part of the NTT Group and a global provider of cloud communication services, announced its own Cisco Webex Calling offering. The solution will provide customers with global PSTN telephony services via Cisco’s Broadcloud PBX technology all packaged under the Webex brand. Functioning natively within the Webex portfolio of products the solution has been optimised to provide a fully unified service on desktop or mobile devices.
Perennial headliner grabbers, Zoom Video Communications, used UC EXPO as the perfect platform to showcase its Zoom Phone solution. It’s been a busy few weeks for the video first collaboration provider, following its successful IPO on the NASDAQ last month, and now its targeting the UCaaS space. Zoom Phone is a cloud phone system which can be bolted onto Zoom’s Meetings service. The system supports inbound and outbound calling utilising PSTN and Zoom are targeting the increasing number of businesses looking to leverage the power of cloud calling services. The latest Zoom Phone updates at UC EXPO included; a beta service for customers in Australia and the United Kingdom, the addition of bring your own carrier capabilities and a new set of certifications for ten desk phone devices from Poly and Yealink.
UC Today brought you news from Enterprise Connect earlier this year that LogMeIn had launched GoTo as its new Unified Communications & Collaboration suite of solutions, using the capabilities of a previous acquisition, Jive. UC EXPO provided the opportunity for GoTo’s European debut. GoTo branding was prominent at this year’s show and UC Today spoke to the LogMeIn executive team in attendance who revealed a new aggressive strategy for European expansion with intent to grow its network of partners, across the continent.
What were this year’s big trends?
Security is an often neglected aspect of the modern collaborative journey, not so at this year’s UC EXPO. There seemed to be a much greater focus on data sovereignty and also on the potential threats posed by opening up businesses to allow user friendly seamless collaboration experiences. One of the more popular seminars, from Darktrace’s James Martin examined the increasing threat to critical infrastructure, and the apparently unavoidable need to understand and secure increasingly complex networks. Martin also discussed the principle that AI technology will be a force for both good and bad when it comes to protecting personal and critical business data in the future.
There was also an increased security focus throughout the expo floor with companies like AGAT Software in attendance. AGAT, who specialise in security solutions, provide products that can enhance the defensive capabilities of the major collaboration platforms including Microsoft Teams, Webex Teams and Slack. When UC Today visited the AGAT booth its team explained that concerns from end user organisations have radically increased demand for its solutions within the communications vertical.
Another major trend that seemed to be present throughout the show was the apparent attraction of full stack solutions. It seems that across the expo floor vendors were showcasing the latest additions to their portfolios which extend their reach into new markets and technologies. We have already mentioned Zoom and its foray into UCaaS, and GoTo with Jive now completing its full UCC stack, but the idea of becoming a holistic technology provider was a recurring theme. RingCentral have added Dimelo and its contact centre capabilities to round its portfolio and Vonage also, with additions of NewVoiceMendia and Nexmo, have aimed for a similar all-encompassing portfolio. PGi, traditionally strong in the conferencing space, was showcasing its GlobalMeet UCaaS solution, further highlighting the market expansion trend occurring in the industry.
So what does this mean? Well simply it implies that the vendors are recognising the benefits that they can offer to customers by providing solutions across the technology stack. This could be attributed to a number of factors. If a vendor can offer a full stack solution then there are intrinsic benefits that can be gained by greater ease of integration between platforms. Data can be shared more easily between different systems enabling end customers to improve efficiency and processes. Vendors are recognising the enhancements that they can provide by offering solutions throughout each area of a business and how these synergies can attract new customers.
UC EXPO’s event organisers have already confirmed that pre-bookings for next year’s show have already spiked, indicating the success of this year’s event. Putting a unique twist on the industry’s biggest trends marks UC EXPO out in the calendar as one event that is not to be missed. More UC EXPO 2019 coverage to follow from UC Today, including a host of video interviews with some of the biggest brands in attendance.
Did you attend UC EXPO 2019? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.