The doors to the Excel Centre were opened once again for UC EXPO 2019, Europe’s largest unified communications and collaboration event, and it proved to be another year of fruitful discussions. LoopUp sent a team of 15 senior execs and managers, for in-person meetings, press interviews, product demos and networking.
As any veteran of the expo will know, many of the key themes come from the plethora of meetings packed into the two days. The key areas of discussion focused on challenges around UC complexity, security, Artificial Intelligence and the future of the workplace.
Barriers to the adoption of new UC technologies
IT leaders are transforming both the way teams work and their workspaces to stay competitive and to attract and retain top talent. The latest collaboration technologies create a new way of working that speeds workflow and improves teamwork. However, without adoption, these new technologies aren’t given the opportunity to take root. CIOs can buy the snazziest new technology on the market and advocate for digital transformation all they want. If the people for whom the technology is designed to serve fail to use it, the benefit of the investment is lost entirely. Understanding how to effectively embed change and foster a culture of innovation is one of the most underestimated competitive advantages. A lot of the conversation at UC EXPO focussed on how companies can understand their employee needs and how they can get them to work in new ways, adapt to new technologies and collaborate better to achieve business goals.
Conference security risks on the rise
Security breaches are on the rise and it’s no wonder businesses are going to ever greater lengths to safeguard their networks and protect customer information. But despite the ever-increasing attention paid to security, there is one area that has remained notably absent from the list of security priorities – remote working and remote meetings. In fact, when it comes to conference calls, more than 50% of frequent callers consider it reasonable, in fact quite normal, not to know with certainty who is on the line. That’s why it was refreshing to see that this was one of the most prominent topics at UC EXPO, with a number of security vendors exhibiting at the show. With the rise in recent conference call hacking exploits, it was not surprising to hear delegates questioning vendors on security: How can I know the identity of everyone who is on my conference call? How can I be sure my screen is only shared with those who should have access to see it?
Artificial Intelligence and collaboration
The rise of AI in collaboration dominated most of the conversations at UC EXPO. There were many case studies being showcased on how businesses had successfully executed new strategies using AI, from adding intelligent chatbots to turn automated interactions with customers into natural conversations, to using speech analytics to capture customer insights in real-time. We also heard from Dr Nigel Oseland, an independent workplace strategist, who talked about the use of the IoT to create a more comfortable meeting room environment through better air quality, temperature and lighting, which in turn would improve concentration, attention span and cognitive functioning. There was also talk of using facial recognition tools in remote meetings to help foster stronger relationships between colleagues and with customers. While AI has a tremendous amount of potential, we are very early in the innovation cycle and it’s difficult for IT and business leaders to understand what’s fact and what’s fiction.
The future of the workplace
In today’s ‘post-attention economy’, driving effective meetings can be a challenge. Different people also work in different ways; teams are made up of many contributors, each bringing their own personal attributes and skill sets. Millennials expect their work environment to match that of their private lives with instant responsiveness and seamless high-tech with access anytime, anywhere. Compare this to Baby Boomers and to an extent, Gen X, who might favour more traditional hierarchies and workflows and to whom the latest tech might appear threatening. As today’s workspaces evolve and become increasingly digitised, collaboration across the generational divide becomes a challenge. There were many sessions, over the two days, that focussed on the new cultural reality of today’s workforce and how businesses can use tools to ensure a positive user experience for all employees.
It was a pleasure to connect with our partners and prospective clients at UC Expo 2019 this year. If you would like to connect with LoopUp or request a demo, make sure to contact us.