Welcome, to my first official blog entry on the new blog site.  Please pardon the mess (the website and the blog landing page) as we are going live while deploying a brand-new website.  We were hoping to debut our new website to the world this week – however, there is a number of things that are still coming together in the background to help make sure our website is the most helpful and as information-rich as it can be.  I can’t release the details yet, but we are working with Mitel to make an exciting announcement for our Canadian customers (it will be worth the wait – trust me!).  Make sure to check back in the next couple of weeks for the new site (website and blog) – I promise it will be worth the wait!  In the meantime, we are going to move forward with posting blogs.  I hope you enjoy them.

Now – for the main attraction!  Our first blog entry on the new site.  This week I’m at Enterprise Connect 2018 conference in Orlando, Florida.  As many readers know – it’s a tradition for me to blog each day from the conference.  I look forward to continuing this tradition on our new website/blog.  I invite you to check out the daily wrap-up of the Enterprise Connect event.

Today kicked off the first day of Enterprise Connect 2018 (#EC18) and there was a lot going on.  It was almost hard to keep up with it all.  I don’t recall so much action on the first day in previous years.  Flat-out there is a lot going on.

There are many different types of technologies being discussed this year – it’s not limited to just voice and video communications.  It seems to be about Software Defined WAN (SD-WANs), Artificial Intelligence (AI), mobility/mobile apps and the cloud.  Pick a topic and there are lots to learn here at #EC18.  One thing that I found very interesting this year is that no matter which company you talk to, no matter which booth you visit on the expo floor or no matter which presentation you watch… the hot topic – the thing that ties everything together – isn’t new…  In fact – it’s as old as time…  “Customer Service.”  That seems to be the reoccurring theme that I have seen this year and how to make the customer experience better.  Whether it’s delivering new apps for customers to connect with your business or using AI to assist customers with common questions and issues – everyone is focusing their product offering on making the customer experience better and delivering an experience that the customer wants.  It’s about escalating the customer experience to new levels.

I participated in a number of sessions today, however one really caught my attention – and they had a good crowd turn out as well.  ZOOM and 21st Century Fox.  I really like what ZOOM talked about – both in terms of ZOOM’s product offering and how they view business.  ZOOM brought one of their customers to the event to share their experience.  ZOOM brought in Paul Cheesbrough, CTO of 21st Century Fox.  What really caught my attention was what Paul said…  I didn’t write down his exact quote, but he was asked why he was distributing so many technologies – many overlapping – to his “customers” (his customers are the 35,00 employees of 21st Century Fox).  What he said amazed me.  They are distributing the apps that people are asking for and they are letting “the customer” (again FOX’s employees) pick the applications that are working best.  As he figures it, he will deliver the technology and then “let the people decide.”  This is how he figures where FOX should spend its IT capital…  He lets the people pick and then that’s the application they move forward with – majority rules basically.  I think there is a lot of truth in that.  People are good at deciding which apps are easy to use and make the most of their time.  People will naturally take the path of least resistance (hence the “easiest app to use”) and will eventually only use the apps that maximize their time and effort.  That’s a pretty smart way of figuring out which app/technology to invest in.  FOX is currently in the process of removing other video solutions (previously installed) and putting ZOOM’s solution in all of their offices around the globe.  FOX did mention the other manufacturers and software companies that they had worked with, however, they have ripped those technologies out in favour of ZOOM’s products.  It looks like ZOOM has good software and they came with many great references today.

Now, no blog entry from me can go without mentioning something about Mitel.  As I said, the one common theme in this years’ #EC18 is “customer service.”  Mitel didn’t fail to deliver on this topic either.  This afternoon, Mitel’s Josh Haslett, took to the stage and explained how Mitel is delivering the applications, team collaboration and most importantly, system integration to ensure companies can deliver the very best customer service experience with the systems they have in place today.  There’s no ripping and replacing to provide the latest apps to company employees and customers.  This may come as a surprise as many are aware, Mitel has been acquiring competitor after competitor the last few years.  They have a lot of systems in their toolbox.  It started with Inter-Tel and then progressed to include Aastra (and Ericsson), Toshiba and most recently ShoreTel.  Although none of this is really new – what is new, is the new applications that Mitel is delivering to the marketplace.  Mitel CloudLink allows existing customers with communications equipment/software to integrate these systems with the latest and greatest in applications.  Mitel is not only making it easier for customers to connect the systems that are from Toshiba, ShoreTel and Aastra, but they have created a platform that makes it easier for software developers (like Merbridge) to write one application and have it integrated to all of these different platforms.  This means developers are creating a single code base and are able to integrate with all of the Mitel offerings.  This will greatly reduce development time and make it simpler for companies to deploy – no matter if your voice infrastructure is on-prem (CPE/on-premise) or in the private or public cloud – really doesn’t matter.  Moving forward, the applications that Merbridge develops will be based on Mitel CloudLink.  This allows us to make software that any customer can use.  With Mitel CloudLink, Mitel is enabling companies to better their customer service experience.  Mitel is helping customers do this by using three simple steps: (1) Build a blueprint – determine what can be automated and what requires a personal intervention with your customers.  Doing this will ensure your customers are happy with the experience they receive – no one wants to frustrate customers with bots that don’t truly serve the customer.  (2) Determine how to best leverage you prior investments – Mitel has long had an “evergreen philosophy” and it’s important to any business to get the best return on their investments.  Mitel doesn’t make you toss out the system your business has come to depend on.  Keep it and integrate it with new applications using CloudLink – and as Josh says – maybe your communications software remains on site, maybe it moves to the cloud – or maybe it’s both – a hybrid of on-prem and in the cloud – Mitel can offer any of these models today.  Finally, (3) Leverage the new tools to improve productivity and customer experience.  Using Mitel CloudLink, you can create the systems to provide your customers the types of relationships, support and service they want – using the device of their choice.  As Josh says, multi-platform support (Android, iOS, tablet, PC, etc.) is important. Give customers access to what they need on their choice of devices.

As I conclude the Day One blog of Enterprise Connect 2018, I want to reiterate some of the words that Josh said while on stage.  “Your experience has become the product….”  It’s no longer about devices and gadgets, the product is actually the customer experience and delivering what the customer wants.  The device itself just becomes a transport device to deliver the experience, the actual product.  Josh mentioned a number of products that use the customer experience as the actual product.  Products that take what the customer is looking for and customizing the experience around their preferences and their needs.  In the end, a customized product is just part of the experience that the customer is subscribing too. The product is the experience and that’s evident in the examples that Josh gave.  Today customers are picking IoT devices and services that like Apple iPhones, Tesla cars and Netflix on-demand video service that allow them to customize the experience around what they want and how they want it.  It’s clear to see that customer service and the customer experience is what’s driving our new world.  The customer is officially in the driver’s seat.  When you, wrap-up all the new technology that I saw today – you would think this is something new, but it’s not.  It’s something that has been around as long as products have been sold – plain old fashion customer service.

Make sure you check back tomorrow for whats new during Day Two at Enterprise Connect!  You can also follow me on the following platforms:

YouTube Channel:  YouTube

Twitter:  @neilhyndman

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