8×8, Inc’s VP of Business Development, Huw Rees took the podium to discuss unified communications, sharing a dash of humor that meshed well with the casual ambiance of the elegant banquet hall. Opening with a slide from Star Wars, Huw convincingly urged the crowd in a jovial (yet sagacious) way to move towards 8×8 and away from “the dark side of premise based solutions”. Aside from this clever quip, I was convinced beforehand that 8×8 was the proper choice in this regard. All jokes about “pissing and moaning” aside, there were some really valuable points and revelations to take away from the keynote:

The two types of UC:

  • UC Tools designed to improve UX – Focused mainly on the individual
  • UC Tools worked into business processes – Targeted at businesses/aimed at the bottom line of the Enterprise

Open API is Key:

  • Developers need to be able to fully integrate and optimize
  • Aim for low-volume, customized apps built for small teams
  • UC core groups may concentrate on what they do best (smaller, specialized integration – i.e. dentist’s office)

The UC Forecast:

  • Research Group, Frost & Sullivan have projected a 30% per year growth rate for UC
  • As UC Adoption is still in its infancy, the challenges in widespread adoption are there but not insurmountable
  • A large part in the difficulty of “winning” those outside the 8.2% over, is convincing the early majority and pragmatists

Inhibitors of UC

  • The “if it ain’t broke” philosophy is a big one – this must be conquered
  • Businesses of less than 25 simply don’t see the value or practicality in it

What will Drive UC

  • Mobility – 84% of companies have remote workers who spend at least 25% of the time away from their desks
  • Communication of what UC is (Case studies, White Papers, benefits, savings, product design cycles)
  • Drive adoption for SMBs, not just the big enterprise
  • Clarify what problem it solves

Finally, Mr. Rees closed with some future trends, painting a picture of a currently fantastical world that I only foresee coming true. In this world, UC vendors enable the exposure of call control through open APIs, use of PSTN diminishes, HD Audio is the standard, and communications across the land are IP to IP. This is a very tangible, very real, and very near way in which UC will inevitably be realized and integrated everywhere. The keynote from Huw Rees most certainly made an impression, as the entire room had the privilege of being enlightened on where UC has been, where it is, and in the near future, how instrumental it will be. In fact, it seems so that we’ll reach a point where the business world couldn’t imagine living without it.