Yet another year has gone by at lightening-speed. Throughout we saw many notable happenings and trends in the collaboration space involving unified communications (UC) and cloud computing – many of which are slated for continued growth through 2014 and beyond.
To take a closer look, we sat down with our very own CEO and CTO Mohammad Nezarati as well as EVP Davide Petramala to pick their brains about some 2013 highlights as well as predictions for the New Year.
Q: What do you think are the largest trends to emerge in the collaboration space – including UC and cloud –over the course of 2013?
DP: 2013 was the year of democratizing video, driven by the momentum of WebRTC; Microsoft integrating Skype in its office portfolio; Google launching hangouts; and GVC and Cisco announcing Jabber C. We are finally seeing ubiquitous video across devices that is available to the masses and [we are] moving from consumer use cases (ex: calling family abroad) to business use cases (i.e. group meetings, virtual customer events and customer presentations).
MN: In collaboration, there is a push towards application integration…collaboration is being moved in various directions including online, real-time collaboration. For example, Google Docs co-editing, which represents a major change in the way people work.
Q: Where do you see these trends heading in 2014?
DP: [I see a] massive explosion of video and live communications beyond traditional meetings. I also see massive cloud adoption and outsourcing. Organizations will need to invest in real-time communications just to compete. To get there quickly, the only option is to scale with cloud and managed services.
MN: I believe WebRTC will become more predominant and the standards for its support will be fully defined. So far, WebRTC has really good support from Google (via Chrome) and Mozilla (via Firefox) but Apple and Microsoft are “MIA” and aren't making a lot of noise. Cisco is trying to make its presence felt by offering its video encoding format (h.264) as a royalty free format (until now you had to pay royalties to Cisco) which is delaying decisions around a standard. (Remember back in May when Mo wrote about the potential of the WebRTC space?)
For collaboration – at least for screen sharing – WebRTC will deliver additional functions in 2014. Chrome has released screen sharing using WebRTC as a test feature so far – and will give products like WebEx a run for their money. I think there will also be a push to innovate around real time co-editing and collaborating in office suites, as more competition between players will likely yield interesting twists to the collaborative functions currently available.
Q: What new industry trends do you see unfolding in 2014? What industry predictions do you have?
DP: The mass adoption of cloud communications. Today, the new voice is video and collaboration. With the need to integrate video and the emergence and mainstay of BYOD, it will make complete economic sense to make the transition to cloud communications. [We] will finally see cloud collaboration – not voice – as the new enterprise communication platform.
MN: Further consumerization of IT is likely in 2014. This trend started pretty strong in 2010, but it feels like it has slowed down a bit. New technologies, especially around messaging applications like WhatsApp and Snapchat, are providing new means of collaboration. These technologies have been mostly ignored in the enterprise, but as new employees who are using these solutions enter the workforce, we will likely see further adoption of these tools.
Q: What’s the single most exciting thing you see happening in the above spaces in the near future – be it 2014 or beyond?
MN: There have been many disruptions in many areas in the past few years. In our space, I see WebRTC as the most exciting technology for 2014. It has the potential to do many great things and provides access to companies of all sizes to innovate and be disruptive.
After stealing a few minutes with Nezarati and Petramala to pick their brains on the industry as a whole, we briefly discussed what Esna has been up to this year. And for their loyal customer base, they also divulged what can be expected from the company in the New Year.
Esna was all about embedding UC into the applications where people live – otherwise known as communication-enabled business process. “We did a lot of work in this area and embedded our solution in more environments in 2013. We are not only based on Google environments, but also Salesforce and Jive software.”
In 2014, Petramala explains that Esna will be involved in the massive movement of real-time communications, which will hopefully one day see voice and video that is no longer dependant on existing legacy infrastructure.
Both executives also shared Esna’s New Year Resolutions. For Petramala, it’s to change the way businesses communicate and collaborate. “We are determined to provide global enterprises with the tools they need to transform the way they interact with customers, partners and their internal teams to deliver better interaction, communication and collaboration.”
Meanwhile, Nezarati says it’s to continually represent the golden standard in collaboration. “[We want to deliver] best-in-class solutions; further improve our customer interaction; and continue to unify and simplify enterprise communication.”
What communications technology did you get excited about this year? Please share with us your predictions for better collaboration through technology in 2014!