Three Business Communication Trends to Watch in 2013
Social, Mobile, Cloud
We’re coming to the end of an eventful year here at Esna—launching products like Cloudlink and Officelinx 9.0, expanding our partner relationships, and solidifying our position as the “enabler” connecting existing PBX, unified communicatiosn and cloud-based applications. Our industry is changing so fast; it’s an exciting time to be working in unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) and enterprise cloud and social applications.
I took some time recently to think about 2013 and consider the implications for Esna of what I see coming. There are three major indicators that I’m going to be following next year and how these play out will tell us a lot about where the industry is going long term.
Microsoft vs. Google…and the winner is?
The first thing to watch is the ongoing competition between Microsoft and Google for enterprise email, social tools and cloud-enabled apps. The fight is definitely on, and with last week’s release of Office 2013 it’s going to get interesting fast.
Enterprise customers will need to decide if they want to upgrade to Office 2013, and lock themselves in to a Windows universe for another three-year license period, or if they want to make the jump to Google Apps to reduce costs and leverage the growing cloud ecosystem Google is developing.
In 2010, when Microsoft had its last Office release, many enterprises took a look at Google but weren’t convinced yet. They stayed with the platform they knew and that their users were familiar with. Three years later Google has made tremendous strides and has signed a huge amount of customers, proving their enterprise readiness.
Microsoft has made strides too, but the platform doesn’t look ready to be a serious cloud play yet. The tables have turned and this time, as enterprises look for a cloud solution, they aren’t convinced that Microsoft is a credible player. We’re entering the mainstream of cloud email now and I think many companies will be giving Google a serious look this year rather than just re-committing to Microsoft.
The slow death of the desk phone—It’s all about mobile
The second trend, and we’re just beginning to see it take hold, is the de-emphasis of the desk phone within businesses. This extends to the PBX in business decisions around email, apps and cloud. I think you’ll see more of this in 2013 because enterprise customers are increasingly looking at the applications on top of the PBX—they just don’t care as much about the box or the sets anymore. They’re more interested in which mobile phone and tablet devices are supported, and the apps available on them. That’s what’s important now—not which PBX solution you have.
To illustrate the breadth of the shift, a September 2012 survey by Avanade found that more than half of employees (54 percent) are using smartphones for basic work functions like reading email, Web sites and calendaring.
Companies will continue to look to extend PBX life where they can by adding a rich layer of apps but, if a company does put the PBX in play, legacy gear will be up for grabs based on enterprise needs for email and integration with social and cloud-enabled collaboration tools.
This means the major providers—Avaya, Cisco, Siemens and others—are looking for partners (like Esna) that can connect their gear seamlessly with these new apps and tools. They’re competing on a different basis now.
2013: the great social land-grab
Finally, and this may come as no surprise, as I look ahead at 2013 I see the battle lines being drawn around enterprise social. Look at all the acquisition activity in the last year—Microsoft buying Yammer, Jive buying Meetings.io and Salesforce.com buying Buddy Media. This shows how quickly the players are moving to round out their offerings.
What everyone wants is to become THE system that users live in during the work-day, and the rush is on to enable their solutions with social features and native connectivity to popular cloud-based apps. I predict you will see accelerating partnering and acquisition activity as everyone scrambles to expand their capabilities.
In particular, the companies I’ll be watching in 2013 are Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Jive. All three will be expanding their collaboration capabilities and trying to grab mind-share in the enterprise. The wild card is Google and how it expands Google Apps for the Enterprise and incorporates more social features.
Esna in 2013
Fundamentally, Esna is an enabler—we connect disparate systems and give users access to their UC&C systems in the environment in which they live. As enterprises increasingly look to develop integrated tool sets, we’re increasingly going to be a sought-after partner.
Today, we are the best (and only) way to connect many of these telephony and UC systems with Google Apps and other cloud-enabled solutions. I think that, more and more, you will see companies selecting Esna first, then building a telephony/cloud apps solution around that decision.
We’re going to continue to innovate with our products and integrate even more tightly with leading solutions like Google Apps and Salesforce.com and Jive. We’re also doubling down on mobile. I think our customers will love the mobile solutions we’re planning for 2013.
I’m excited about what 2013 holds for us and our customers.