One of the few events I look forward to every year is IT Expo, staged so well by the team at TMCnet. While the show is now only an annual show, which is a smart decision, what Rich Tehrani and Dave Rodriguez have done so well, is built the show up to be more than the VoIP show.
That move a few years ago, done in consort with ex VON minds Carl Ford and Scott Kargman has elevated the show to include MSP, IOT, Wi-Fi and more over the past few years. By making this move, the show has a much broader audience and ends up being a far larger event, which in turn helps keep costs to exhibitors down.
The move from Miami up the coast also has helped, as the venue in Fort Lauderdale is a bit larger, and far more conducive to what TMC has set out to do.
As for this year, I'm excited about the three panels I'll moderate in the All About The API section, while also seeing friends, new and old, as well as being very intrigued by the expanded IoT content that is part of IoT Evolution. That section kicks off with the Telit IoT Innovation and the IoT Certification Series on Tuesday, February 7. It continues with a five track conference program on Wednesday. Their well thought out tracks include; IoT Enterprise Operations, Connected Building and Cities, Connected Transport/Connected Industry, IoT IT: Business Intelligence and Machine Learning and IoT Developers. Keynoters are coming from the Industrial Internet Consortium, Intel, GoGo Air, Ingenu, Eurotech, Numerex, Telit, Cisco, Kore and Verizon.
At IT Expo there's also:
- Telecom Reseller Week
A forum for channel executives to learn about cutting edge new solutions you can represent, to meet with many new potential partners, and to study proven sales techniques to help improve your team's performance.
- MSP Expo Conference Sessions
The Premier Conference and Networking Summit for MSPs - where business owners and technology specialists in the channel come together to accomplish key goals in growing your managed services business.
- ChannelVision Expo Sessions on Expo Floor
Gain perspective on how to adapt, what to sell and how to sell it within this ever-evolving communications ecosystem through the educational sessions and vendors showcasing their products and services at ChannelVision (CVx) Expo.
Most of all the ITEXPO enables you to meet with 100's of vendors while enjoying a beverage and networking with colleagues. PLUS, the ITEXPO badge grants access to 75 more exhibitors at IoT Evolution Expo next door.
And a whole lot more....
Having been in the collaboration game since the days of SightSpeed, the original laptop video conferencing service that was acquired by Logitech, it's really funny to see how what's old is new again. That's why even with new ownership, Polycom continues have its head in the hardware world while the rest of the industry is clearly in the cloud.
Today, NoJitter ran a typical vendor supportive piece, with coverage on Polycom, surrounding their newer meeting room experience.
Meeting rooms are nice, but the market is going more in the direction of "huddle rooms." Those are smaller two to three person sized conference facilities that are used by team members who are all in one place. Given how much work at home is occurring and working from remote locations like WeWork and Regus office centers, the real market is where Zoom, GoToMeeting, and WebEx.
They are are all in the cloud, or virtualized, and are offering services that don't need anything more than a smartphone, tablet or laptop to have parties connect from anywhere. No need for a dedicated room. Besides, with AppleTV, Google Home (aka Chromecast) the market for room size video can be accomplished with monitors and far more economically priced PTZ (pan tilt zoom) cameras or using the camera already embedded in the smart device or laptop.
Cisco's Spark Team has been hard at work redefining their idea of collaboration. While first thought to be a Slack wannabe, Spark is far more than simply a messaging platform. Today's news around the SparkBoard bears that out.
So what is SparkBoard? Think of it as the virtual whiteboard you always wanted. It’s a wireless presentation screen, a digital whiteboard, and an audio and video conferencing system all in one. The Cisco Spark Board helps teams collaborate in physical meeting rooms, but also securely connects to virtual meeting spaces to facilitate continuous workflow before, during, and after everyone has left the physical conference room. The Cisco Spark Board draws its power from the Cisco Spark service, which combines meeting, messaging, calling, and new white boarding capabilities on any Cisco Spark app-enabled device.
What's this mean? With SparkBoard you can present to a group of people who are connected to your whiteboard session, but who don't have to be in the same room. What's more, with the mobile app, people on the go can be part of the session, both observing and participating.
This also means the idea of remote collaboration really is coming true. I don't know how many times I've watched a presentation, and wanted to write on the screen my thoughts as the presenter is making a point. Or, highlight something on screen for others to pick up on, that the presenter may not be going deeply enough into. With the Spark Plus app features, the app becomes a remote extension to the presentation, letting the viewer become the participant.
Looking at what the Spark team has done, shows that Cisco is integrating their hardware and software teams together. Think WebEx and Tandberg meets Tropos and a few other acquisitions that they have made the last few years.
How successful will this be? Pricing is key to the success of any service so hopefully Cisco employs a razor blade strategy, giving away the screens, and selling the service so adoption moves quickly.
Sprint is taking a 1/3rd equity interest in Jay-Z's Tidal music service. With AT&T buying Direct TV, and Verizon stepping up to buy Yahoo (maybe), the face of the three telecom giants is quickly shifting from delivering voice and text into being the pipe that roars with content. All this is coming as 5G is around the corner and the battle for who has what on which service begins to rage on.
This move is designed in my mind to further push Sprint into the urban, Asian and Latin markets in the USA, especially with pre-paid, while Verizon goes for the corporate customer, AT&T aims to be all things to all people, while T-Mobile focuses on the consumer. The investment also comes at a time when services like Pandora and Spotify as well as Apple's iTunes all need to get an edge over one another. With Tidal, Sprint is staking its claim to secure some exclusive content that will only be available to its customers, or what's more likely, will be available first to their customers.
Expect to see more of these types of investments and alignments as Comcast and Charter also start to toss their cash and stock war chests into the fray.