Communications Tech Events to Attend: An Analyst's Take

Authored by Jon Arnold from J Arnold & Associates

June 28, 2024
communications technology events to attend

Attending conferences and industry events is central to how technology analysts stay current, and there’s usually one or two every month, making travel a key part of the job description. Travel definitely has a fun side, and sometimes we go to pretty special places, but otherwise, it’s mostly business. We have to absorb a firehose of information, pass through a lot of airports and hotels, and spend a lot of time away from home. On the other hand, we’re a select group that executive teams share their roadmaps with, making us better informed than almost anyone else outside these companies.

Thought leadership is the stock-in-trade of analysts, and much of what I learn from these events finds its way into various articles, social media posts, podcasts and video segments. Beyond that, however, these conferences are the best forums for networking, business development and building personal relationships - the primary reasons we all attend industry conferences.

"These conferences are the best forums for networking, business development and building personal relationships..."

So allow me to outline the top events that my travels take me to. Aside from providing a glimpse into our little world of analyst life, this might help you prioritize your planning for shows, both from the ones you already know, and others that may not yet be on your radar.

Since most of you are not analysts, two big caveats are in order before listing out these events. 

My first caveat has to do with definitions. There are two basic types of events, with different experiences for attendees. First would be industry events, which are usually run by a publisher or an event producer. These are open to anyone, usually at varying price points for admission, along with various packages for exhibitors and sponsors. 

It’s also worth noting that some are primarily trade shows for bringing buyers and sellers together, while others are focused more on thought leadership and education. Now that we’re back to traveling, most events are in-person only, but some do provide a virtual component. These distinctions are important to consider depending on your objectives for attending events.

The second type of event is vendor-based. These are usually focused on customers and partners, and for major vendors, the scale can be larger than industry-based events. To varying degrees, analysts are in attendance – and some vendor events are analyst-only. Many vendors in fact, have two sets of events – analyst-only (much smaller in scale) and customer/partner-based, where some analysts are invited. 

For the latter, the main vibe is about recognizing customer and partner success and the performance of the vendor’s sales teams. There will be some exclusive content for analysts here, but most of it won’t be tailored for us. Attendance won’t be as open as with industry-based events - since competitors won’t be there - so you’ll only be hearing what the vendor wants you to hear.

While that is the basic taxonomy of events, there’s a second caveat around my take on top events. While many analysts get invited to a similar mix of events, vendors have their preferred analysts, and budgets often dictate how many can be included. I do get invited to a wide range of events, but others attend far more than me, so my take is based on my orbit, not the general market. 

As well, some events invite analysts based on their overall industry standing, while others are more selective, only inviting those with a specific coverage in their space. Independent analysts like myself are viewed differently than analysts working for firms, and while we don’t get invited to certain events, we often turn up in unexpected places that analyst firms would not get to.

So here are my “Top 5” events for a few different types of events. These are based on which events work best for me, and that I either attend regularly or have done so recently. I should mention that not all of these will be accessible to you, especially analyst-only events. Being an analyst, I try to be fair and balanced, but can only speak to the events in my orbit. There are many others worth considering, and I’ll mention those that come to mind. 

This isn’t a comprehensive roundup, and I’m sure some are missing that are on your top choices lists – and I’d love to hear those. In the name of fairness, my breakouts will be in alpha order by company name, not order of preference for those companies.

Just keep in mind that my coverage is mainly collaboration, contact center and future of work, and there are many adjacent spaces with great events, but I can only spread myself so thin. 

Enough said, let’s go…

Jon Arnold. Photo credit: Kate Hogstedt

Industry Events – My Top 5

Enterprise Connect – vendors drive the entire value chain, and this show remains the top spot, especially for the enterprise market. More recently, the focus of this event has gone well beyond communications technology, and is now just as much about the contact center and AI. For my focus, I do an annual update session there on the state of enterprise speech tech, so this is an important event for me. Overall, it’s still the leading must-do show in the world of enterprise comms tech.

"...the leading must-do show in the world of enterprise comms tech."

ITExpo/FOW Expo – more of a trade show than a thought leadership event, ITExpo has been running longer than just about anything else in our space. Sweet spot is more mid-market and SMB than enterprise, but a great event for networking. Also, for the past seven years, I’ve been Chair of Future of Work Expo, where I run a full program of topics shaping FOW.

SCTC Annual Conference – this is the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, a long-standing professional community mainly for consultants and vendors, but analysts too. Attendance is open to non-members, and this tight-knit group is a great forum for sharing best practices as customers adapt to new technologies. On a personal note, I’m also in the band – the SIPtones - all are SCTC members, and we usually do a gig there.

"...a great forum for sharing best practices..."

UCExpo – in many ways, this is the EU version of Enterprise Connect. Not as big, but the best way to stay on top of what that market is doing for all things UCaaS, CCaaS and CPaaS.

VON Evolution – for my world, this is the best pure thought leadership event. This is Jeff Pulver’s current incarnation, and that’s all that needs to be said. If you don’t know Jeff, attending this event is a good starting point – or just drop me a line.

Other Notables – Industry Events

CCA – Cloud Communications Alliance – this industry group is where’s it at for UCaaS

CCW – Contact Center Week – as above, but for the CCaaS world

Infocomm – probably the best event for hardware, especially video – not core to my coverage, but another important link in the comms tech value chain

MWC – run by GSMA, this is the event in mobile comms – overwhelmingly big, but again, not really core for me

Vendor Events – My Top 5 - Tier 1

Avaya ENGAGE – they still have the largest legacy customer base and richest telephony pedigree – so there are many important storylines that need to be followed, making this an important event to attend. 

Cisco WebexOne – they’re further along the cloud migration path than Avaya, and doing great things with AI. Need to stay close for lots of good reasons – still one of the biggest and best players in the comms tech space. WebexOne is the best Cisco event for analysts, but Cisco Live is much bigger, and is more likely the event that non-analysts would want to attend.

"...still one of the biggest and best players in the comms tech space."

NICE Analyst Summit – Interactions is their customer event, and the one that readers here would want to attend. The Summit is analyst-only, where we get the inside story on what makes them a true leader in customer experience. As with everything they do, their events are best-in-class, and very much worth attending.

RingCentral Analyst Summit – they are the biggest and most impactful vendor among the cloud platform players, and always looking to push the envelope. As with NICE’s Summit, this event is analyst-only, so it’s not an event anyone else would have on their schedule. RingCentral doesn’t have a large-scale customer event, but they do have several regional events to support partners, and this is where you’ll most likely have the best opportunity to get closer to them.

Zoom Perspectives – in my view, they’re the biggest winner coming out of the pandemic, and they innovate at a faster pace than anyone else in our space. These are some - but not all – of the reasons for following them. Perspectives is analyst-only, so for everyone else, Zoomtopia is your entrée into their world.

Other Notables – Industry Events, Tier 1

AWS Re: Invent - no other tech vendor plays on so many fronts, and while they’re very much in the comms tech space, it’s also very niche for them. This event is too outsized for my needs, but also too big to ignore. This is not an event to attend on a whim – it’s too vast, and only a handful of tracks will likely be relevant to your business.

Genesys – long-time market leader, especially for enterprise-scale contact centers. I haven’t been to their events in some time, but I always follow them closely.

Google Next – similar to AWS, and while important to follow, it’s hard for independent analysts to get on their radar.

Microsoft Ignite – as above, but of course I follow as closely as possible.

Twilio – Segment has long been a major event for them - and analyst-friendly - but a lot has changed with their recent management shakeup and exiting certain markets. Not clear now whether future Segment events will be as important for me to attend as before, and the same may apply for you as well.

Vendor Events – My Top 5 - Tier 2

8x8 Analyst Summit – analyst-only, and being on a small scale featuring close engagement with the management team, it’s a very worthwhile event.

Cognigy – rising star in the conversational AI space, and I was very impressed having attended my first customer event of theirs – CX Summit. Definitely a company to follow closely.

Five9 – one of the leading pureplay CCaaS vendors, and for the events I’ve attended, they’ve been very good. They continue doing well, and I continue following closely, but cannot comment on their most recent events.

Verint – a newer company for me, but their recent analyst-only events have been very good, and they’re taking chatbots to a new level under the aegis of CX Automation. They also have a customer event – Engage – which I haven’t gone to, but this would be the one for readers to attend.

Zoho – also new for me, but I’ve attended both their analyst event, and Zoholics for customers and partners. This is a different kind of tech company, and Zoholics is worth looking into for anyone looking at new ways of doing things.

Others – Vendor Events, Tier 2

This grouping is too messy to list out companies, let alone my Top 5. I need to include this category, though, as there are many vendors that one would call “Tier 2”, and would also have notable events. That said, the definition of Tier 2 can be fairly subjective, and I’m not going to get into fine points here as to what constitutes that designation. 

More importantly, the pool of smaller vendors is large, so there is potentially a long list of companies to consider for secondary events. Also, some will be analyst-only, but some will have events open to others, including non-customers.


Analysts have specific reasons for attending conferences, and while my picks here largely reflect which events serve my practice well, non-analysts have different criteria to consider. Some of my top events will be very relevant for a broader audience, but of course, analyst-only events are generally off-limits for everyone else.

It’s also important to note that the lists here are based on my experiences from attending events, and how they benefit my business as an independent analyst. The focus is on the quality and relevance of the event, and not what I think of the vendor. Putting together a ranking list is never easy, and given how many vendors I work with, I must reiterate that these lists are based on their events, and not the companies or their offerings. By extension, what I’m really trying to do is identify some events that non-analysts would find worth attending, but not necessarily which ones they should be buying from. I may have opinions about that, but it’s up to you to decide.  Attending their events is one strategy for making the right choices for your situation. 

So as you can see, it is very possible that you will see me in your future travels. And if you do, please say hello!

Communications Tech Events to Attend: An Analyst's Take
Jon Arnold

As Principal of J Arnold & Associates, Jon is an independent research analyst providing thought leadership and go-to-market counsel with a focus on the business-level impact of disruptive communications technologies.

Communications Tech Events to Attend: An Analyst's TakeCommunications Tech Events to Attend: An Analyst's Take

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