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Hybrid work and inclusion: key takeaways from Enterprise Connect 2023

In March 2023, the Futuresource team attended Enterprise Connect, a leading communications and customer experience technology conference, in Orlando, Florida. In this post, Scarlett Woodford, Senior Market Analyst in the Collaboration team shares key takeaways from the event and highlights strategic recommendations for market stakeholders.

The future of AI in collaborative work

During Enterprise Connect 2023, panel participants and keynote speakers alike focused on the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) and the role this technology will have in future work arrangements.

Whilst inevitable that AI would be a key topic of discussion at this year’s event, with the recent launches of ChatGPT and Google Bard increasing public awareness of generative AI, Enterprise Connect predominantly explored how artificial intelligence can improve operational efficiency and reduce data siloes.

Transition to the next normal and need for workspace evolution

With enterprises trying to get employees back to the office, Cisco highlighted the concept of the ‘new normal’. With the meeting room camera market expected to grow at a CAGR of 11% between 2021 and 2026, organisations will increasingly invest in meeting room technology to meet this objective.

Rather than mandating a return to the office, corporate leadership teams should prioritise this investment, creating shared office spaces that operate as a destination for collaboration. Hybrid knowledge workers must feel additional value is gained from commuting to the office, rather than working from home.

Many companies will need to alter the configuration of their shared meeting spaces. This requires both larger meeting spaces that encourage collaboration and smaller areas where employees may make video calls. This also supports in-office resource management, with businesses able to implement hot desking policies as employees adapt flexible working schedules. To support this change in workstyle, vendors such as Microsoft have implemented QR code sign-ins on their collaborative platforms.

Description: Microsoft Teams QR Code Sign-ins, Source: Microsoft Tech Community

The need to upgrade meeting spaces comes at a time of economic uncertainty for many countries. Enterprises are reluctant to spend without a clear ROI, and instead are adjusting their budgets and leveraging existing systems, with many companies introducing bring your own device policies, in lieu of investment in standalone, dedicated meeting room technologies.

This offers an opportunity for vendors of Wireless Conferencing solutions. These devices allow users much of the one-touch convenience and integrated experience of a room solution, while maintaining an open, Bring Your Open Meeting model. One of the more striking pieces of news from the event was Microsoft’s announcement of a partnership with Crestron, allowing the company to support BYOD room experiences through the Crestron AirMedia.

Microsoft, the dominant influence in the market, is effectively acknowledging that the heavily promoted room system model is not appropriate for all companies, or all room sizes. We anticipate that other collaborative platform providers – such as Google and Zoom – will look to partner with wireless conferencing vendors to offer similar functionality to their customers.

This shift towards providing solutions for lower budgets was underlined by the unveiling of a new format for Microsoft Teams, which has a smaller drain on device batteries, and is therefore well suited to lower-end hardware.

Evolving work landscape requires true interoperability

The communications and customer experience technology market is now led by the software providers. As the requirements of the working world evolve, there will be a need for additional interoperability between software providers to support collaborative work.

While we are seeing a transition towards software, true interoperability will depend on efforts from both hardware and software vendors. At Enterprise Connect 2023, several key stakeholders made announcements emphasising the importance these partnerships:

  • Cisco announced that it will natively host Microsoft Teams rooms, extending its range of meeting room hardware that is Microsoft Teams certified.
  • Poly announced that all PolyStudio X devices are to be certified for Google Meet.

Currently, the enterprise scheduling cross-platform meetings must take responsibility for the cost of interoperability. This may be a point of contention for some, considering the pressure on IT budgets. Others may wish to absorb this cost to maintain control over the meeting set up, integrating their own corporate branding.

While these integrations are a step towards a more open ecosystem, meeting platform providers must ensure that they continue to prioritise smooth user experiences. Failure to do so will result in user attrition and a reduced market share. This is equally true when switching between collaboration applications, as enterprises will expect high-quality user experiences without additional burdens on IT departments.

Knowledge workers expect authentic brand experiences regardless of how a platform is accessed. Users are unconcerned with the technicalities behind platform access, meaning that any change to service provision must be carefully trialled prior to mainstream release to ensure user experiences are not negatively impacted.

Modern work requires emphasis on equity, rather than equality

Enterprise Connect also highlighted the importance of delivering similar experiences to all meeting participants, regardless of their circumstances. Companies are now looking to maximise their virtual meeting real estate and ensure meeting equity for all participants.

When considering new meeting room technology, one must consider three different perspectives to ensure the application is easy to use by all users, regardless of their pre-existing knowledge and physical location:

  • In-room participants
  • Remote participants
  • IT/audio-visual administrators

The current trend is for options which increase meeting engagement, such as AI-enabled camera systems to automatically identify active speaker(s) and individual tiles for meeting room participants. The ability to add emojis and polls can also boost participant engagement, especially amongst neurodivergent communities and remote workers.

To maintain market share, collaboration platform must evolve their services to include smart, AI-driven, non-verbal engagement tools. Failure to do so will lead to customer attrition, with users favouring collaboration software platforms that offer more inclusive features to improve engagement and reduce meeting fatigue.

For further questions about the event, please reach out to Scarlett:

Alternatively, for enquiries about our collaboration content, please contact Alistair Johnston:


Date Published:

Scarlett Woodford

About the author

Scarlett Woodford

Scarlett is a Senior Market Analyst in the Collaboration team at Futuresource Consulting, responsible for researching and consulting on the ways we work together, in an increasingly hybrid landscape.

 With a background in telecommunications and connectivity services, Scarlett is particularly interested in the impact of new technologies on existing business models.

 Scarlett has a degree in Psychology from the University of Surrey and has previous experience working as a research analyst in the service provider market.

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