Does Amazon Echo Represent the Future of Enterprise Integration?

July 30, 2019

There was a time when integrators were always a little ahead of the consumer market when it came to cool, high-tech equipment.

Large screens and high resolution were so expensive that people didn’t put it in their homes. Instead, these technologies were reserved for corporate meeting rooms, auditoriums at prestigious universities, and fan experiences at stadium venues.

But a shift happened. Fast. Plasma displays became more affordable. Large-format video displays were put on shelves at Target for a few hundred dollars. Just like that, our margin maker was gone and integrators had to scramble toward emerging technologies that commanded greater margins and perhaps required more customization.

Control systems and videoconferencing solutions are good examples. These technologies follow a similar pattern to the above-mentioned flat panels, but their migration wasn’t quite as fast.

Due to customization, low-cost options have tended to lack desired features and security for enterprise customers – preventing migration to FaceTime or free Skype as a go-to videoconferencing solution (although some have done that anyway).

Specific features may have prevented a complete industry disruption, but the paradigm shift from “enterprise leading innovation” to “the consumer leading innovation” is in full swing.

While the flat panel serves as an obvious example, this seismic shift actually got its legs when the iPhone became en vogue technology that IT departments didn’t utilize. Instead, the BlackBerry had become the standard for mobile business communication. But iPhone demand wasn’t driven by the IT department. It was driven by executives who saw something better … so they bought it and demanded that IT support and adopt it. Suddenly, the tidal wave of demand led to a requirement for this new technology to become the standard in many organizations. As a result, enterprise IT had no choice but to get on board.

Adoption of the iPhone and the shifting of innovation from inside the enterprise to outside the enterprise represent a shift that integrators need to consider: The enterprise no longer dictates the technology that customers and employees want to use.

Because customers and employees now create technology demand, it’s likely that, in the future, boardrooms, classrooms, meeting rooms, and other enterprise spaces will be much more like our homes.

The Amazon Echo represents what integration customers will demand. These $50 speakers can listen to and act on our commands, play the music we want to hear, order our groceries, send emails for us, or text us directions. (And they do a whole lot more than that!) With the incorporation of small video screens, we can use this technology to search, watch video, and make video calls. Despite the privacy challenges they may bring with them, consumers won’t stop using them. The technology’s affordability and value seem to exceed privacy concerns.

The good news is that, like Skype and FaceTime, rooms of the future will need enterprise-secure, more robust versions of these technologies. The Amazon Echo probably won’t be found in most enterprise boardrooms anytime soon, but the ability to use a voice-recognition smart speaker to automate, search, launch meetings, and control environments is the way things will go.

The experiences we have as consumers with the technologies in our homes are more influential than ever when it comes to what people will expect their enterprise technology experiences to be like.  –Dan Newman, Cofounder of V3*Broadsuite

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