2009 Hot Topics Revisited — Right or Wrong?

I wrote the first post for the Interactive Intelligence Blog Crew on January 19, 2009. Now 116 posts later, I think we’ve lived up to our mission of sharing interesting, timely, provocative content without self-promoting (okay, that sentence was self-promoting, but you know what I mean).  

That first post was titled, “2009 Hot Topics.” I still find it funny how most everyone who issues predictions for the year, never circles back around and tells you how they did with those predictions. Were they right or wrong? Well, I’ll break with tradition and do a little self-grading on how well I think I predicted 2009’s hot areas.

First, my prediction that Avaya would acquire Nortel. Okay, I guess a couple of clicks to the archive and you’d see that that wasn’t really on my 2009 list (I know. How did I miss that one?). Alright, sorry for the diversion, back to the real list.

1.       The need to show a hard ROI before anyone would write you a check. Ben Bernanke I’m not, and it didn’t take a Harvard economist to come up with that one, BUT…it was THE driver to purchases in 2009.

2.       Multimedia in the contact center. This one continued to make progress. Video was talked about, but not much beyond talk. SMS as a media type to add to voice, web chat, and email was a reality. Slow progress, but progress none the less.

3.       Remote agents. This one, as predicted, was hot. Not just talk, but significant deployments.

4.       Software-as-a-Service/ Communications-as-a-Service. If our CaaS business is any indication (up significantly), this one was right on.

5.       Voice of the customer. This is one I think I missed on. My prediction was that in the hard economy, companies would focus more on measuring and improving customer satisfaction. We didn’t really see it happen. Surprising, but reality.

6.       Mobile communication applications. I think this was my most accurate prediction of a non “well of course” item. I predicted that while mobile business apps are cool, they wouldn’t get much buying traction. That’s what happened. I’m not talking about the bazillion iPhone apps. I’m talking about things like speech-driven mobile messaging applications. They just didn’t go anywhere. 

7.       Video conferencing. Duh. I said it would be hot, it was. A monkey could have told you that.

8.       Web conferencing and collaboration. I liked this one more than the market, though it still did relatively well. This will definitely make a return to my 2010 list. The business benefits are so well defined.

9.       Presence. I’d have to say I missed on this one. I really thought we’d see more accomplishments and announcements around federation and interoperability. 2009 didn’t show much progress here.

10.   Unified communications. I got this one. I said the hype would continue, but misunderstood and without a compelling enough ROI (refer back to my item #1), UC wouldn’t get traction. It didn’t. Want evidence? Try and find a vendor who can show you big UC revenue (an IP PBX with some nice applications isn’t the fulfillment of the UC promise). Part of it has to do with fact that people are still applauding at tradeshow presentations when the presenter clicks on a name after checking the person’s status, and the guy’s phone rings in the audience. Come on, we’ve seen this for 15 years. UC still needs an ROI in order to build a business case. Hint, hint…look at number 11.

11.   Business process automation. I referred to this one as my hot topic sleeper. At the beginning of 2009, communications-based process automation wasn’t talked about much at all, except by the handful of really insightful industry analysts. Now, it’s all over the place. Why? The value of it so compelling! This is the ROI that UC has been looking for.

As I wrap up this post I recognize that maybe predictors don’t go back and look at how well they did last year, because readers are always looking forward…what’s coming next? Not what happened last. Yet, I felt I owed it to you.

I’m sure you can’t wait…..Monday, I’ll post what I see as the hot topics for 2010. Agree with me or disagree? Please share your comments.

Joe Staples — Resident Prognosticator