Let’s Do Video’s 2016 Enterprise Connect Wrap-Up

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Let’s Do Video is pleased to bring you our coverage of the 2016 Enterprise Connect Show. Things are certainly remaining interesting in our industry. While there were no revolutionary announcements at the show this year (I think vendors save the biggest releases for InfoComm in June), there was definitely a lot to like and plenty of good surprises.

Behind the scenes, there was much talk about the latest developments in the Cisco/Microsoft relationship. Last year the story was that the two were starting to flirt and if they truly formed an alliance, the collaboration world as we know it would end. This year things are very different. Cisco’s purchase of Acano, among other things, has apparently recreated the rift and things are no longer friendly. As my nephew would say, “They’re in a fight”. How this will effect Microsoft’s Skype for Business interop partnership strategies remains to be seen.

For the rest of what I learned at EC, including coverage of 28 vendors/providers, please keep reading!

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Keynotes and Sessions

Cisco

Throughout the show, whenever I was asked what I thought of the keynotes, I said that Cisco knocked it out of the park. I joked that it was no surprise, since Rowan Trollope is the Eddie Van Halen of our industry. Every time I got the same reaction; a laugh, followed by a thoughtful look, followed by someone saying, “You know David, that’s really accurate, he really is Eddie Van Halen”. Just as Eddie changed the way we think about playing guitar, Rowan is changing the way we think about selling and consuming business collaboration.

Rowan is making it increasing clear that Cisco Spark is far more than Cisco’s attempt to build upon the Slack phenomena. While Slack is a fantastic Persistent Team Messaging tool (and an LDV favorite), Spark is a true enterprise-ready collaboration platform. In an earlier panel session, Rowan had described the difference between a “true cloud” and a “false cloud”. This generated some controversy in the Twitter and Spark analyst channels, but he’s entirely correct. Anyone can host a server off-site and call it a cloud. However, we expect more from a true cloud, such as distribution, redundancy, failover, security, and a number of other attributes all well beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, Spark qualifies under anyone’s definition as a true cloud. For example, they’ve solved the puzzle of keeping all data encrypted in the cloud, while still somehow making it searchable by users. No small feat. Basic Spark is free, but their premium offering has several layers and options. I recommend Bill Haskins’s blog post up on Wainhouse for anyone looking to dissect the details of how to buy Spark.

In my opinion, the most exciting thing about the keynote was the announcement of the Spark Developer Fund. Rowan likes to talk about open platforms and APIs. Now Cisco is putting $150 million of its money where Rowan’s mouth is. Considering that Slack’s API partnerships are a big factor in its popularity, this is a smart move for Spark. I also appreciate that one of the first Spark APIs was for the Trello project management application. Trello + Slack is the peanut butter and jelly combination that allows Let’s Do Video to seamlessly function on a day-to-day basis as a completely virtual team, by marrying team communications with team project management. Bringing Trello into the Spark family early shows that Cisco gets how teams like mine get things done.

Just as every Van Halen song has a flashy guitar solo to get the crowd on its feet, any Rowan presentation has a flashy demo to provide a “wow” moment. In this keynote, the moment came when he showed the integration between the Spark app on his phone and Spark meetings on Cisco’s video room systems. As Rowan approached a room system on stage, it magically knew he was there and his face popped up on the screen. My guess is that the microphone on his phone picked up some sound beyond the range of human hearing to make the connection via the Spark cloud. He was then able to use his phone as a remote control to start a video meeting on the room system. Amazingly, he transferred the video call while in progress to his phone (imagine you are in a meeting and get kicked out of the room, but want to continue your video call), and with the call still in progress walked over to another room system and transferred the call from his phone to the second system. Some may say that this scenario may be a bit far fetched. How often are you in one meeting room and get forced to relocate to a second meeting room in mid-call? However, I think if you break the demo down into its elements you will see that it consists of very common behaviors. How often are you late for a meeting and would love to start it on your phone as you walk into the building, and then transfer it to the meeting room system without having to restart the call? This isn’t just demo magic; this is the kind of flexibility we want from our enterprise video.

I recently wrote an article comparing Slack to Spark on some points. While it got a lot of web traffic and great feedback, I’m finding it more and more unfair to compare the two. In terms of enterprise-grade features and capabilities, it’s a bit like comparing an electric go-cart to a Model X Tesla. This is especially true if you consider Spark’s telephony and video meeting room support. If we limit the discussion to the basic chat workflow, there are still some things I prefer about Slack, but Rowan has his team on a super agile development pace, adding features and eliminating bugs faster than I can get around to writing up my complaints. Stay tuned as I am in the process of writing an article with some critical thoughts on various Spark workflow issues, unless the Spark team preempts me once again.

Microsoft

Skype for Business has the most well worn coattails of any business application. Every vendor at Enterprise Connect is trying to ride them. I have to give Microsoft credit. They are the company that everyone loves to scrutinize and pick on, but they are doing a lot of things right in our space. Many analysts are questioning the specifics of the Surface Hub product, but the buzz around the product has created the Skype Room category, which other vendors such as StarLeaf, Crestron, and Vytru (now owned by Cequens) are leveraging with much success. Also, by allowing 3rd parties to interop with Skype4B (for now at least) they are really opening things up for meeting room video users looking to bring their Skype4B colleagues into the environment.

The keynote itself was a big success. Zig Serafin, Corporate VP, Skype Business Services Group at Microsoft, is another one of our industry rock stars. What Zig needed to do at this keynote was to convince me that Microsoft is taking enterprise collaboration seriously. It isn’t enough that bundling Skype4B with Office 365 guarantees its installation on millions of desktops. I want assurance that they are developing it into a true enterprise-grade solution. Zig and his team gave me that assurance with a walk-through of the new provisioning and management workflow for Skype4B. Having managed a Lync deployment for a small team a few years ago, I can assure you this was a massive improvement and shows real concern for the implementation of Skype4B in the workplace. They also went into detail about the monitoring, management, and analytics available with Skype4B – all of which is crucial for enterprise deployments.

Microsoft knows that every room can’t afford a Surface Hub. In order to address the rest of the rooms, they have created Project Rigel to bring a Skype4B experience to meeting rooms via partner equipment. The first two partners are Polycom and Logitech. Polycom was, of course, once again proud to share space on stage during the Microsoft keynote, as their long and close partnership with Microsoft is one of their big strengths. The Polycom RealPresence Trio and CX5100 were specifically mentioned as Project Rigel devices, with the expectation of more to come. With the Trio already being a big success for Polycom, this is just more good news. Logitech, the consumer peripheral powerhouse and rising star in the enterprise collaboration space, was also up there in the form of a Logitech “dock” for the Microsoft Surface Pro, which can be combined with a Logitech ConferenceCam Connect or their new GROUP solution. Keep in mind, Project Rigel is forward-looking and the first systems are expected to be available in H2 2016. It’s a bit of a “wait and see”, as Microsoft does have a habit of being late or even failing to deliver on things of this nature.

Finally, the Microsoft crew had a moment of their own, when they revealed that the keynote was being broadcasted live via Skype4B and the recording of the first half was already available as the keynote was still ongoing. This is the kind of flexibility I look for in the future of enterprise video. Break down the silos between videoconferencing and streaming. It’s all just video, so let us use it how we see fit. In fact, you can watch the entire keynote yourself at this link http://bit.ly/1YOtcHi. One real highlight was when Zig played back the recording and showed real-time transcription during the playback. As it was being streamed live, a very accurate (but not perfect) text transcription was at the bottom of the screen. What really got the people buzzing was when Zig clicked a button and switched between English, Spanish, Dutch, and Chinese. In other words, not just transcription, but real-time translation. Again, this is an H2 2016 capability, so we’ll wait and see.

Avaya

Avaya has clearly been busy, but their keynote message left many of us a bit confused. They have new “things” called Zang and Breeze. While I was happy to get a Zang t-shirt, I’m not sure that I get the Zang concept. Is it a communications platform or a developer tool or a little bit of both? It appears that Zang is actually a company, living as a subsidiary under the Avaya umbrella. However, I need a little help here. Can I make a Zang call? Do I work with Zang to leverage Breeze to create an app that allows me to make a call? Was this a keynote for enterprise collaborators or for collaboration developers? Also, what’s going on with the Scopia platform? Avaya made a very smart purchase a few years ago, grabbing Radvision with its Scopia video platform which was leading in many ways. Have they been keeping it up, or is it now an outdated platform? There was some Scopia at their booth, but it was not mentioned in the keynote. I need a little help pulling together Avaya’s vision for enterprise collaboration. Do they intend to create a cohesive suite like Cisco and Microsoft, or do they intend to create a toolkit for partners?

Google

Google’s keynote provided a déjà vu moment from last year’s disappointment. Once again, we were offered a general discussion on the benefits of enterprise collaboration tools. What we wanted was some insight into Google’s strategy for providing a cohesive suite of tools to effectively compete with Microsoft and Cisco. I feel like Gmail, Hangouts, GDocs and the rest of their playset are all floating out there, but what is the vision? The keynote started with a statement that Google is well aware that we question whether or not they take enterprise collaboration seriously and reassurance that they do. Well, if you are listening to us, then you need to really listen to us. A panel discussion of users talking about general benefits of their Gmail and Hangouts usage is not going to convince us of your seriousness. A vision filled keynote with a little flash and awe (see Cisco and Microsoft above), as well as a forward-looking product development roadmap would be a lot more convincing. It isn’t as if the Google tool set isn’t usable. We use it here at Let’s Do Video. However, as we grow we’ll shift to either Cisco or Microsoft, as their commitment to providing a cohesive and comprehensible business platform is far more convincing.

Enterprise Connect 2016 Sessions

Video Track Sessions

Please see my Enterprise Connect preview article for a full listing of the sessions I attended. The sessions were extremely well attended and the audience was very engaged, as people stayed in their seats and asked questions in every session. I particularly enjoyed any session moderated by Andrew Davis of Wainhouse, as he gives no quarter to vendor reps, while being sure to keep going back to end user panelists for much needed reality checks.

The very first session caused the most controversy. A polite, but heated discussion about the distinctions/definitions of hybrid cloud, private cloud, public cloud, and true cloud spilled out of the panel and carried over into Twitter. In the panel on integrating Skype4B, I appreciated how the audience repeatedly applauded Will MacDonald of StarLeaf for pointing out that this stuff is still way too hard in the typical workplace. The panel on delivering services to the masses made the concerns of scalability very clear as Nick Chong of Zoom shared that his service is seeing 300,000 new users per month. Remember the massive adoption of video that we have been predicting for 50 years? I think we just saw the evidence of its current reality.

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Booth Visits and Vendor Briefings

bluejeans_small_logo
This booth visit with Joan Fazio and Eric Tooley from Blue Jeans was mostly covered under NDA, so be sure to check back soon. However, one new thing that they were able to demo at the booth is the expanded capabilities of Blue Jeans Command Center (check out my initial coverage on Command Center from 2014 to see why I think it is so important). The extensive insight and analytics provided by Blue Jeans Command Center is one of the things that distinguishes the service from some of its less “enterprise-ready” competitors. The new features add the ability for live meeting control from within the Command Center portal. It turns the tool from a monitoring solution to a true real-time management solution. This funny commercial (from outside of our industry) best explains the difference between monitoring and management.

We also discussed how I really appreciate the way Blue Jeans has redefined themselves from the early days, when they were simply a neutral meeting place for other vendor experiences. Now, there’s a very well-defined Blue Jeans experience. Their user interface is one of the better ones. When users make a call on the Blue Jeans browser client, they know it is a Blue Jeans call and they like it. Some of the more feature focused analysts may think look and feel is secondary, but with today’s video adoption largely happening from grassroots word of mouth and viral sharing, the look and feel of our video portals may decide which vendors come out on top in the next few years.

Logitech_Logo
When Scott Wharton joined the Logitech team as Vice President and General Manager for Video Collaboration last year, I interviewed him for a LDV video podcast. During the interview, I asked him if he was brought on to “stay the course”, since Logitech was clearly on a growth path and doing a lot of things right, or whether he was given the freedom to exercise some vision and shake things up. He told me that he was brought on to be innovative. At this year’s Enterprise Connect, I was able to see some of the early results of that.

Logitech is now the #2 room system provider (by units) due to the massive success of its ConferenceCam line. Please see my recent article for details on how Logitech is looking to unseat Cisco as #1, and how they improved their top selling unit, which was rebranded as the Logitech GROUP solution. Logitech is in a position to simply watch the GROUP fly off the shelves and pile up the money, so I wasn’t expecting any big news from them at Enterprise Connect. With many leading cloud video vendors acting as indirect salespeople for the GROUP, much of the work is done for them. So you can imagine how pleased I was to see that Logitech had two real headliner announcements for me this week. One was their new Project Rigel partnership with Microsoft (described in the keynote section above), which is clearly a huge win for them, and the other was their new Logitech ConferenceCam Kit.

Joan Vandermate and Robin Raulf-Sager (two well know industry vets whose recent shift to Logitech was, in itself, big Enterprise Connect news) were both at the booth to give me a hands-on demo of the new kit. The bundle includes their ConferenceCam and a loaded Intel Nuc, and right off the bat it is compelling. While the ConferenceCams are very popular, they are simply USB peripheral devices and require a PC or laptop to act as the “brains” of any meeting room build. By pairing the ConferenceCams with a Nuc, it takes the burden of selecting, purchasing, and configuring a laptop for each room off of their customers. Please note, Logitech is not directly reselling Nucs but has simply created the configuration for the benefit of their resellers and distributors.

What really impressed me about the new kit was the fact that Logitech took it to the next level by hiring Illuminari, a tech development firm from Canada, to work their “Quicklaunch” software into a custom skin for the new kit. Angela Hlavka, Illuminari President and CEO, was at the booth to give me a personal demonstration of this software, which will provide a consistent, unified, brandable, and user-friendly experience for each kit deployment. The Quicklaunch software is so perfect for this application that at first I thought Logitech had it custom made just for the kit. Calendar and cloud service integration allows for one-click meeting creation. Additionally, your IT team can install any Windows 10 app they want to enable in the rooms. Another nice touch is the reset button which gives working teams peace of mind as they leave a room that all of their private working materials (including browser history and cookies) will be wiped clean from the system.

MNS.VC small logo
This technology company has been making big waves and racking up a big number of big partnerships in our space recently. Some of the more well known video cloud services are actually running on their QoS network, and many cloud solutions have recently added recording capabilities powered by their REC.VC offering. For more information, please check out two of my recent video podcasts, where I took a deep dive with Video Guidance and CBCI. These are two video service providers currently leveraging REC.VC, with much success, to provide recording for users of their Acano-powered video services.

StarLeaf small logo
The StarLeaf team is working hard to replicate their EU success in the US market. I spoke with Will McDonald, CTO of StarLeaf, to catch up on their roadmap. Will recently helped me to understand how StarLeaf is uniquely positioned to be the go-to vendor for the three basic deployment situations found in today’s enterprise video environments. While much of what Will had to share with me at Enterprise Connect was under a NDA, I can say they are working on some fundamental experience and workflow improvements that I very much approve of. Speaking of approval, they recently launched their new recording functionality (powered by REC.VC) which is named Encore. I don’t do EC awards, but if I did, this would win best name for new service. “Encore” for a video playback capability, why didn’t I think of that?!

Tely small logo
Tely had two big announcements at the show this year. A new partnership with the Videxio service, and the launch of Tely Touch. While the Videxio partnership speaks for itself, I think the Tely Touch is worthy of a little explanation. Isabelle Coste, Vice President of Marketing, gave me a hands-on demonstration and it makes a lot of sense to me. The Tely 200 product is designed with ease of use as a primary consideration. Rather than joining meetings the old way of dialing by IP, the Tely allows users to join in one click via calendar or clicking the icon for your integrated cloud service of choice (now including Videxio). The one aspect of the Tely experience that was reminiscent of the old way of doing things was its handheld remote control. As far as remote controls go, it’s one of the better ones, and not nearly as complicated and intimidating as traditional video endpoints. However, most of today’s users don’t like any remote control whatsoever.

What we want is a simple touchscreen app to control our meeting rooms. That is exactly what Tely is now providing with the Tely Touch app which runs on an Android tablet. I was particularly impressed by the fact that the Tely development team took the time to leverage the camera in the Android tablet. In addition to using the tablet to join and control meetings, you can add the feed from the tablet’s camera. If you have a whiteboard in the room, rather than reposition the Tely itself to point at the whiteboard, you can simply point the tablet’s camera at the whiteboard and share it with all meeting attendees. A very clever bit of development that I expect will be much appreciated in the typical huddle room workspace.

VDO360 small logo
The camera + Nuc combo idea is catching on and VDO360 can rightfully claim to be leaders with the concept. They have been working closely with Intel for years to optimize the integration between their camera and the Nuc. Early iterations simply paired their popular Compass model camera with the Intel device. However, the latest Nuc runs cool enough that VDO360 was able to actually combine it as an all-in-one device, which is sold as the Clearwater. This is no cheap plastic USB peripheral. The high quality metal casing is laser engraved and gives a professional appearance to any huddle space. With Intel’s Unite software pre-installed and easy integration with leading cloud services, such as Blue Jeans and Zoom, the Clearwater provides a quick, easy, and affordable way to provide high definition, full pan/tilt/zoom video to any meeting space.

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It’s always great to catch up with Karl Hantho, who has been leading Videxio’s increasing growth in the Americas. The Videxio cloud is white labeled and sold through partners, so end users may not even know they are making Videxio calls. However, I assure you that their growth has been impressive and they’re hosting quite a large and ever-increasing number of calls globally. In particular, their presence in China is working out very well for them. While much of my conversation with Karl was under a NDA, I can say that Videxio has much in store for their cloud, in terms of expanded features, capabilities, and end user experience. Be sure to check them out at InfoComm for more.

Yealink small logo
This was Yealink’s first time exhibiting at Enterprise Connnect and the global manufacturer of UC endpoints is looking to make a splash in the US market. Their Skype4B-enabled phones show the value of being a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, and their line of videoconferencing endpoints appear to be well set for small businesses looking to dip their toes into video communications. I created a video tour of their booth, which will be up on the LDV YouTube channel next week.


Acano

This is officially the last time we’ll see Acano having a stand-alone booth at Enterprise Connect. In a few months at InfoComm, we can expect to see the Acano team in force at the Cisco booth. The Acano acquisition was perhaps the biggest story in our industry last year, and the article where I predicted how Cisco may integrate Acano into its existing offerings was one of LDV’s most heavily shared and read articles in all of 2015. Acano’s in a bit of a strange limbo state right now. They had numerous new features and capabilities under development at the time of the acquisition. Some are on hold, as they overlap with existing Cisco technology and would just be redundant, while others are still moving forward. I got a peek at the beta version of Acano’s recording capability. Recording has been the most obvious gap in the Acano feature set, and Acano users will be happy to see it in place. However, we may have to wait until Acano is fully integrated into the Cisco environment before Acano recording gets the kind of fully featured “YouTube-esq” portal we like to see in an enterprise video recording solution.

AVI-SPL

The leading integrator and reseller in our industry plays a crucial role for vendors and users. Many new vendors stake their future on convincing AVI-SPL that their product will best serve AVI-SPL’s customers. On the flip side, many large enterprise organizations rely on AVI-SPL to help them understand and decide which solutions will best solve their problems. I will be attending their annual Sales Acceleration Summit next month and look forward to meeting directly with their execs and learning more about their future vision and strategy. At Enterprise Connect, I was pleased to see that they have continued to develop their Symphony platform, used to manage their customers’ video environments. As today’s VCaaS platforms offer more capabilities and as we deploy each new generation of hardware endpoint, it’s crucial that management platforms evolve to meet customer needs.

CafeX

The new Chime offering from CafeX received the 2016 Best of Enterprise Connect award. This solution enjoyed a lot of buzz going into the show, as it claims to finally deliver on the long awaited promise of WebRTC by actually working in every browser without any sort of download or plugin. It also has a unique way of routing call traffic through the network, more like a node-based streaming solution than a bridge-centric videoconferencing solution. I look forward to covering this solution closely as it’s expected to be released soon. Let’s find out if it delivers as promised, or if WebRTC is still just too good to be true.

Cisco

While the big news from Cisco was delivered at the keynote, there were some treats at the booth. Angie Mistretta, Director of Cisco Collaboration Endpoint Technology Marketing took me through the latest offerings. I was particularly impressed by the new PresenterTrack solution. Using the same technology as their SpeakerTrack, its cameras automatically follow a presenter as s/he walks around the stage. It even switches cameras to focus on an audience member asking a question. The result is a studio-like experience for remote viewers.

Dimension Data

Last year at InfoComm, I described the unique experience of attending Dimension Data’s dinner events. Somewhere between a panel discussion and a customer appreciation dinner, these events offer a great opportunity to speak directly to end users about their collaboration experiences. The knowledge gained is crucial to help Dimension Data execs plan future strategy to meet the ever changing needs of their customers. While much of the event (including the identities of the high profile customer organizations in attendance) is under a NDA, I can say that I learned a lot. For example, I have taken it somewhat for granted that “presence” is a failure. No one respects the red or green availability light. Regardless of color, we type in our “you there?” message and await a response. However, I learned that there are some end users who do respect the red light and consider it a breach of company etiquette to send a message of any sort to someone with a red indicator. I still maintain that they’re a minority, but it’s interesting to know that they exist!

Fuze

ThinkingPhones recently secured an additional $112 million in funding, purchased Fuze, and then renamed themselves Fuze. They’ve also recently acquired managed services and analytics capabilities through two other purchases. From my booth briefing, I learned that they have very ambitious plans. While there are countless cloud collaboration offerings out there with differing levels of features and services, Fuze is creating a cloud at the highest levels of comprehensiveness. To put it another way, they want their cloud to compete head-to-head with everything that Cisco is putting within its Spark cloud. Very big plans, and worth keeping an eye on.

Pexip

Speaking of things worth keeping an eye on, all eyes are certainly on Pexip after the Cisco acquisition of Acano left Pexip with a lot of breathing room in the independent platform arena. I briefed with Eddie Clifton, VP of Worldwide Service Providers for Pexip. Eddie is an industry vet whose knowledge and deep understanding makes him an invaluable resource for any analyst looking to really understand the nuances of Pexip and its competitors in the industry. This briefing was very heavy information under a NDA, but I can share that anyone expecting that the Acano purchase would be indirectly and massively beneficial for Pexip was right on the money.

Polycom

Vice President John Antanaitis gave me the full booth tour, helping me to better understand the nuances of Polycom’s cloud solutions, while giving me a second look at their new endpoints. Please see my initial coverage of the Polycom RealPresence Trio, Debut and Centro for the full rundown on these products. In other Polycom news, they obviously have a heavy focus on their Microsoft relationship, and the deep integration of their products with Skype4B will take them a long way. While the breadth of their new hardware and cloud offerings is impressive, I think the Trio is a real standout winner. Even their heaviest detractors have to admit that this product makes sense on every level. It takes the decades long success of their conference phone platform and adds video and presentation capabilities. Even the audio is next level, as most conference phones can only handle voice, but will not perform well with music. As the Trio is a true collaboration platform, it’s expected to be used by working teams who may be producing videos. As such it needs to handle music and sound good doing so. As a first generation member of Project Rigel, we can expect even greater success for the Trio, and for Polycom.

Prysm

Prysm is well known for its revolutionary display technology. While they easily could have rested on their laurels and continued to simply sell hardware while relying on partners to push content to their screens, they have moved to the next level. Their Cascade collaboration software offers a very compelling workflow. It’s actually fun to work with, in addition to providing a logical way to manage video and other assets on a shared screen.

Revolabs

I’ve been a fan of Revolabs wireless mics and speakerphones for quite some time now. Their high-quality audio and easy setup makes them ideal for videoconferencing environments. It was great to see the latest generation of their equipment on display including their FLX UC 1500. You’d have to be a true audio geek to really understand everything they are doing under the hood, but their advanced audio technology will be highly appreciated by meeting room attendees. You may not always notice bad audio, you just feel tired and stressed after a long meeting. With Revolabs, a remote meeting can last as long as an in-person meeting with no ill effects.

Sennheiser

Sennheiser is a big favorite with audiophiles. Their music and gaming headphones are extremely highly rated, so I was excited to learn about their UC offerings. While I expected the basic, high-quality headsets, I was in for a treat. Their PRESENCE series of wireless headsets has to be demoed to be properly understood. The core element of the unit is detachable and can be used to power either an earpiece or headset, while connecting to your PC and/or mobile device. This one unit basically can serve all your UC audio needs with the audio quality you expect from Sennheiser. I also liked their TeamConnect Wireless solution. TeamConnect includes 4 wireless “pods” which can be placed wherever needed in a meeting room to capture all participants. Each pod is omnidirectional for full room coverage. I expect to see these popping up, particularly in odd shaped or hard to cover meeting rooms.

SMART

The SMART kapp IQ Pro (the latest iteration of the kapp line) is singing my tune, supporting a more persistent-based workflow. Jeff Lowe, SMART Vice President of Marketing, took me through the paces and there’s a lot more to it than a bigger sized board. With the ability to pull in drawings from the basic SMART kapp whiteboard and continue working on them as active drawings (rather than a flat image), it provides a continuous workflow between the products. SMART is carefully balancing the desire to add more bells and whistles in each iteration of the kapp, with the need to keep things simple. While the Pro has a lot more to offer, it does not have any complicated menus. The list of new features is too long to list here, but what stood out in my mind is the ability to work interactively with remote workers via their Bridgit service and the ability to work with notoriously tricky PDF documents.

Ubiety

While the number of services powered by the Acano platform is hard to keep track of, Ubiety stands out for adding enterprise features and capabilities to the basic platform to provide a next level service. I spoke with CEO Daryl Hutchings, who assured me that the Cisco purchase will have no negative effect on his offering. He also shared that his new pricing model is a big success with customers.

Vaddio

The sweet spot between expensive boardroom cameras and cheap desktop cameras is getting crowded. Vaddio is responding by narrowing down its sweet spot to somewhere a bit above the sub $1000 huddle room solutions. For use cases like healthcare, hospitality, worship, education, and more, a huddle room camera just doesn’t cut it. Vaddio cameras are not only high quality, but easily manageable over IP using their PCC Premier Camera Controller. I got some hands-on time with this one and found it to be incredibly powerful with almost no learning curve. One person could easily control 80 cameras (16 simultaneously) all over IP.

Vidyo

Vidyo’s new VCaaS cloud service and VCaaP platform are big news in our industry. Vidyo has long been a technology leader in our industry, with over 110 patents. However, they were a bit limited by the room system market. While they’ve done well selling room system-based environments for a decade, it always felt like they had more to offer as a pure technology company. At the booth, I got to see for myself how their new cloud offerings include all the resilience and network efficiency that we expect from Vidyo, with an easily customizable skin for any customers looking to deploy a branded video service. Stay tuned, as I intend to follow up with details about how the market takes to these new offerings as soon as more information is available.

Yorktel

Most integrators and service providers are satisfied by offering their customers a choice between the many resellable VCaaS clouds and platforms. Yorktel realized that they had a closer relationship to their customers than the vendors and decided to create their own Univago service, tailored to their specific needs. It isn’t 100% home grown, as it leverages the Pexip platform, but they created their own portal, management, and monitoring. In addition, they offer a selection between cloud, on-premise, and hybrid deployments. This was my first time briefing with the Yorktel team since they first described the Univago solution to me, and I was pleased to learn that it’s a big winner with their customer base.

Zoom

Zoom was demoing their new Zoom Rooms for Touch and three screen support at the booth, but the real story is the amazing continued success of the Zoom service. Their growth and adoption in both SMB and enterprise has been phenomenal. In my opinion, it has a lot to do with their UI. It’s easy to use and looks good. As I mentioned above in the Blue Jeans section, the days of video adoption being only a top-down affair are coming to an end. Sure, we’ll still see big sales made at the CTO level and pushed down on users, but we’ll also see grassroots adoption. Zoom is an industry leader in grassroots adoption. It has that undefinable something that makes users like it and want to share it with their friends and colleagues. My friends at competitive vendors may not like to hear this, but if you are looking to improve your UI, a good first step would be to spend a few weeks making calls on Zoom.

Full Disclosure: A few Let’s Do Video sponsors were exhibiting at Enterprise Connect this year. LDV strives to provide neutral, third-party coverage of sponsors and non-sponsors in our day-to-day writing, as well as event coverage. Sponsors are listed at the top of the “Vendor Briefings” section above (the ones with logo headers). However, everyone that we found interesting and had time to brief with was covered. None of the content of this article has been paid for or pre-approved by any vendor or sponsor. Apologies to those I missed. Let’s set up those InfoComm briefings early!

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David Maldow is the Founder & CEO of Let's Do Video and one of the visual collaboration industry's most prolific writers. Prior to founding Let’s Do Video, David was Managing Partner at Telepresence Options, one of the industry’s most recognized print publication and news sites. It was there that he authored 150+ pieces of public content, gaining him recognition as an industry expert. Earlier in his career, David managed the Wainhouse Research Video Test Lab, where he developed the ability to assess products / solutions from an IT perspective, but with an eye for user experience and adoptability.

2 Comments

  1. vctech@gmail.com'

    David, do you know if there is any video of Cisco Presenter Track being demo’ed at Enterprise Connect that we can have a look at?

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