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InfoComm has become a staple show for the Audio Video Integrator (AVI).

Well it’s June and that means a number of things. The NHL playoffs are winding down, and I need to start thinking about an anniversary gift for my wife! More importantly though (just kidding), it’s InfoComm time. While Enterprise Connect is the premier business collaboration conference, InfoComm has become a staple show for the Audio Video Integrator (AVI).

The show has changed over the years as video has evolved from being a standalone application on a dedicated network. Now there’s a greater focus on networking, unified communications, voice and other things that have become core to the video business. I had a chance to discuss the trends in collaboration and the role of the AVI with Marc Brown, Polycom’s Group VP of Product Solutions and Market, and bounced around some ideas of what AVIs should be looking out for at this year’s conference. These include the following:

Newly-announced endpoints are designed to extend the “ease of use” for Cisco collaboration to the desktop and mobile endpoints.

The last time we heard from Cisco’s Collaboration Business Unit, GM and SVP Rowan Trollope was showing off a number of enhancements to the company’s room based portfolio at Enterprise Connect 2014. The updates to the MX line and even the SX10 Quick Set were designed for fast deployments in conference rooms. If you recall, Trollope talked at length about building systems that were easier to deploy and easier for workers to use, following up on the promise he had made at Cisco’s Collaboration Summit in 2013.

Enterprise Connect is now in the rear view mirror and it’s now nearing the end May, which means people with a life are planning for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. For those of us in tech though, it’s time for Cisco Live–the company’s user conference and a time to look at what’s new in the world of Cisco.

A big systems integrator makes a big bet on video-as-a-service. Will others now jump in?

It seems like over the past two decades we’ve been hit over the head almost every year with the proclamation that this is now “the year of video”. Then the year comes and goes and we’re no closer to having video becoming a mainstream collaboration tool than we were at the start of the year. In fact, I’ve heard many end users describe video as a “solution in search of a problem”.

Sure, we’ve had some M&A activity within the vendor world, a few startups pop up, and a tremendous amount of innovation with new products from the more traditional video vendors. Despite that though, it’s hard to say that video has finally hit that inflection point.

However, I looked at yesterday’s acquisition of Teliris by Dimension Data as a signal that this might actually be the year video goes mainstream. Why? Well, Dimension Data is one of the world’s largest systems integrators and, like most SIs, DiData tends to augment its portfolio based on what customers are asking for. Five years ago there were lots of cloud UC solutions available but the customer interest was low, so the SIs stayed out of the market. Today it’s hard to find an SI that doesn’t have a cloud business. Similarly, I expect to see more SIs and VARs look to build out cloud or managed video services now that one of the largest global SIs has jumped into the market.

Working from home doesn’t need to be frustrating or inefficient. People just need to put some planning into collaboration tools, room layouts and networks to create an optimal experience.

I read through this blog posting by Unify’s Senior Vice President of Vision and Strategy, Rick Puskar on the “4 Must-Haves for Flexible Workspaces,” and I thought it would be good to expand on this some. While I agree with these “must-haves” for in-office workers, it got me thinking about some of the must-haves for remote workers.

Being an independent analyst I work exclusively from home (when not traveling), and even when I was with Yankee Group, I worked remotely a few times a week so I’ve done plenty of experimenting with remote worker technology. Here is what I deem to be “must-haves” for remote workers:

Instead of chasing a market filled with big-name software companies, Cisco decides to partner with Jive and focus on what the company does best.

The term “Jive” can refer to a type of music, a dance, or to engage in kidding. It appears that to Cisco, the term Jive has a similarly multi-layered meaning: The company tried to dance in the social media space for years but has had limited success. So instead of jiving itself further in believing it’s better to build its own social platform, the company announced it would now partner with social media specialist, Jive Software.

As part of this agreement, Cisco will immediately stop selling its own product, WebEx Social (formerly known as Quad), and Jive will become an integrated component of the Cisco Collaboration suite and will be sold through the Cisco channel and massive partner network. I’ve heard a few rumblings that Cisco was looking to acquire Jive to bolster its collaboration platform, but its looks like those were fueled by the partnership discussions, not acquisition talks.

Cisco has told its WebEx Social customers about the plans to discontinue that product, and it will continue to support the cloud product until June of 2016, and the on-premise version until June of 2017, so I certainly don’t expect any customer churn based on this announcement.

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