Innovation on Display: ITEXPO Austin

Convergence Corner

Innovation on Display: ITEXPO Austin

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  November 12, 2012

This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Having just wrapped up another successful ITEXPO (News - Alert) in Austin (in 20-degree cooler weather than last year), I have the pleasure of again reflecting upon the many exciting happenings from the week. Where to start?

How about the keynotes, which, as heard though the grapevine on many occasions, were an impressive yet cohesive collection of industry thought leaders, each considering how customer expectations and customer experience are shaping the market. Sonus CEO Ray Dolan, Siemens Enterprise (News - Alert) CMO Chris Hummel, and ShoreTel CEO Peter Blackmore were even more closely aligned in their conviction that these factors have driven unified communications to an inflection point, where UC is no longer a nice-to-have addition to your business communications capabilities, but a must-have in an age of accelerating communications.

One of the most exciting new elements was the M2M Evolution Battle of the Platforms, which featured demos from a number of innovative vendors looking to capitalize on the automation movement. The overall winner was Digi International, which has embedded its software with most of the sensor processor companies. “All of the platforms are indicative of the way the M2M industry is growing and matching to specific,” explained Crossfire Media’s Carl Ford. “Many of the winners referenced partnerships with other companies, and what everyone had in common was a commitment to supporting their customers’ needs.” (I should point out a great article by Tony Rizzo, who spoke with ThingWorx, one of the companies that has partnered with Digi.)

Speaking of winners, one of my favorite activities during ITEXPO is the collaboration among TMC’s editorial team around Best of Show candidates. As always, the competition is strong, with vendor after vendor making a strong case for its products. This year in Austin was no different, with the focus (see my comments on the keynotes above) being an enhanced and more efficient customer experience.

I’m pleased to recognize our latest group of ITEXPO Best of Show winners, and look forward to yet another evening of exciting debate with our team in Miami.  

I want to focus for a moment on one winner, in particular, which I believe is on to something big.

We’ve all seen the success of online shopping – nearly every research firm has offered predictions as to how rapidly the e-commerce market will grow in the next three or four years. Emarketer, for instance, says that by 2015, 90 percent of consumers will be doing some portion of their shopping online. Already today, two of my five neighbors do their grocery shopping online. The drivers, of course, are that online shopping is faster, easier, more efficient, provides access to more products, allows for easier price and product comparisons (including between different retailers), and can often be more cost effective.

So why shouldn’t IT departments have an easy online shopping experience for their corporate technology needs?

DoubleHorn Communications believes they should, which is what it is looking to bring to the market with its iAPP cloud services marketplace, which currently boasts Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) and Acme Packet, among others. The idea is that businesses should have easy access to communications services, allowing them to quickly adapt to changing needs, without having to go through lengthy acquisition processes. The idea, according to CEO Tab Schadt, is to ensure businesses have access to the best solutions with proven interoperability – he says a key requirement of inclusion will be proven interop with other vendors.

By the end of the year, Schadt expects, v2 will be released, which will include a Service Sherpa that uses a set of sophisticated algorithms to determine what products or components businesses will need based on the criteria they enter.

The idea that business communications can be purchased and provisioned as easily as you can buy a new iPad has the potential to disrupt the sales models for many communications vendors, especially once the services element is added to the equation.

I look forward to seeing many more great new products and soutions in Miami, Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2013.

Edited by Braden Becker