April 05, 2024 | Insights

March Madness on the Trade Show & Conference Circuit

AI Statistically Jumped the Chasm and Security Alarm Bells Rang Clearly 


March Madness always brings excitement and surprises and the buzz at a couple recent industry conferences were in keeping with the season.

The Channel Partners Conference & Expo (Las Vegas March 11-14) and Enterprise Connect (Orlando March 25-28) are usually broad ranging in attendees and content. But this year both shows had focused agendas on the leading-edge challenges and solutions related to AI Technology and Enterprise Security.


AI and Security are now top priorities in all C-Suites as the topics represent material financial importance and risk. While 85% of Enterprises expect IT budgets to be flat in ‘24, the same 85% expect new and increased spending on AI and Security. This means something must give in expenditures and budgeting! The best solutions and approaches (to rationalize flat budgets while increasing spend in critical areas) are still being developed and debated.

Below are some key themes, highlights, and conclusions from the shows:


  • AI Has Statistically Jumped the Chasm
    Gartner reported significant growth and penetration of AI over a 10-month span. 59% of enterprises reported having AI projects in pilot or in production in January of 2024, up from 19% in March of the prior year.  


  • There Is a Growing Range of AI Use Cases
    IT Office Management (17%), Call Centers (15%) and Marketing Automation (14%) are the top departments using AI. Most use cases are for internal optimization as many enterprises remain concerned with using AI for external facing communications due to inaccuracies and hallucinations. There is strong confidence, however, that these concerns will be resolved with broader use of guard railing technology and use of clean and proprietary data (vs public based data). Proprietary, industry and company specific small and medium sized language models (SLMs & MLMs) will proliferate alongside more public LLMs. NLU/NLP based Voice Bots are replacing less flexible IVRs and voice interfaces will continue to develop alongside digital text/chat bots. Specific AI enterprise use cases include meeting summarizations (think Copilot) and CRM auto populating in addition to Call Centers use of Supervisor Assist, Agent Assist and Next Best Action offerings.

    Demand for cloud-based AI based solutions and virtual assistants are growing faster than cloud infrastructure can be rolled out. Enterprises want AI applications NOW despite not yet having fully deployed cloud infrastructure. To twist a phrase, many enterprises need to fly in the AI future while they are still building the cloud infrastructure plane. This dynamic will create interesting tradeoffs and result in mixed technology and hybrid systems for the foreseeable future.


  • Security Issues and Data Breaches Are an Epidemic for Large and Small Businesses
    Over 80% of enterprises have experienced fraud, spam and phishing breaches and 40% of those breaches have come via public Wifi networks which are a key connection point for many enterprises. Enterprise fraud and breaches were reported to be a bigger business than the illegal drug trade in the USA. Over $2B in CX infrastructure was sold for illegal hacking which enabled the expanding ransomware industry. While big company breaches and ransoms with multi-million-dollar implications (see MGM and Caesars) get the headlines, ransom demands of SMBs are also exploding with ransoms ranging from $10s to $100s of thousands depending on a firm’s revenue. Improved security technology and techniques such as the use of biometrics and digital pass keys native on our smartphones are inevitable.


  • Best of Breed vs Best of Suite Approaches Continue to Be Debated
    Enterprises continue to look for optimal strategies to rationalize budgets and launch new solutions. Large enterprises want to keep dual vendor approaches but also want one single throat to choke. SMBs do not need all the bells and whistles of a single infrastructure with a full suite of integrated solutions but struggle with resources to manage and integrate multiple vendors. Related to this conundrum, many enterprises over spent during C19 on software licenses for the WFH employees and now need to re-evaluate and rationalize licenses.


  • Hybrid Environments Drive Need for Cross Platform Monitoring, Maintenance and Collaboration
    Both trade shows featured and emphasized technologies that facilitate and help enterprises manage multiple vendor technologies and silos. For example, Mio, MicroCall, and Theta Lake all demonstrated solutions that work across multiple communication platforms and infrastructures.


March was not boring. It never is. And this year’s show focus on AI and Security in the technology industry should captivate all of our attention for the foreseeable future.

Insights by

Garrison Macri

Managing Director

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