The unified communications industry has been very fluid over the past few years. Although the industry is maturing, people’s communication habits continue to evolve as social media and personal technology habits shift.
The major challenges of the unified communications industry are also shifting. Customers (and employees) struggle with overflowing inboxes and are less willing to pick up the phone. Cold-calling has lost much of its popularity. Employees want communication platforms that are intuitive and natural. And there are the challenges of drawn-out meetings, technology that doesn’t work, and ROI.
Prediction #1: Improved interoperability and security in hybrid platforms
For most companies, it just doesn’t make sense to use a single tenant solution. Not only is it expensive to build a custom platform and host on-premises applications, but companies feel restricted by the big purchase. In an agile market, companies need to be able to change strategies fast. Hybrid solutions have been common for a while, but there will be a more “modular” approach to UCaaS hybrid environments in the future. Unified communications providers will be able to close more deals and keep customer loyalty if they can provide a set of plug-and-play modules that fit their customers’ unique business needs.
As more and more technology crowds onto our desks and into our devices, interoperability will be even more important. It is mission-critical for unified communications features to function seamlessly in BYOD and hybrid environments.
This interoperability will come with beefed-up security features to protect against data loss, data corruption, and targeted breach attacks. As cybersecurity attacks rise, companies are becoming more open to spending serious money on data security.
Prediction #2: Technology that is natural to use — not just user-friendly
Many UCaaS platforms are easy to use, but not all are natural to use. They don’t match the way that people intuitively use other software and technology in their day-to-day life.
Just because features are new or high-tech, doesn’t mean they’re necessary or useful. Recently, a major Unified Communications hardware manufacturer launched a new advertising campaign for videoconferencing hardware to address the problem of low user engagement, which means a high added cost to the business.
Making UC technology low-effort is only half the battle. Tech giants like Facebook and Apple have created the expectation that all software has a sleek, streamlined UI/UX (user interface/experience). Thanks to these companies, a bad user interface is a show-stopper. User experience is a top consideration for UC technology companies, alongside functionality.
Prediction #3: Shift from “feature-rich” to “rich features”
Most features on smartphones, TVs, and other electronics never get used. People get used to using their devices a certain way and don’t branch out. The same goes for unified communications technology. Developing new features is expensive and time-consuming. As the UCaaS market continues to heat up, companies will focus on delivering a few high-quality features that users actually want. Cutting down on the overwhelming number of unnecessary features is the next logical step.
There will be a boost in features to support mobile users and telecommuters, who are becoming more common in the workforce. The unified communications industry relies heavily on remote employees, and customers will be loyal to platforms that support this model.
Prediction #4: Data-driven decisions that are actually data-driven
Many companies already consider themselves to be “data-driven,” but the quality of data and the subsequent conclusions based on it is often questionable. Engagement tracking and big data analysis are becoming more commonplace, with simpler tools so that companies don’t need to hire a data scientist to get results. These powerful data tracking tools are helping companies make smart decisions more easily, and based on better data and better insights.
Prediction #5: CPaaS will be a major UC disruptor
CPaaS is “communications platform as a service,” and includes communication apps such as B2C text messaging, human and bot chat platforms, and other real-time communications applications. UC features in this category include instant-messaging apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Slack, which have exploded in popularity as a response to overflowing email inboxes. IM applications will continue to grow and most likely eventually totally replace intraoffice email.
Technical support is another department likely to pick up on CPaaS fast. Video-enabled IT support, live 24/7 assistance, and real-time chats are an easy, low-cost solution to common IT problems, and they make the IT department’s job easier.
Prediction #6: Smart bandwidth usage for UC apps
Not all UC apps are created equal in terms of data usage. Bandwidth-heavy UC applications like video-streaming can seriously slow down a user’s system, or even the whole network. Smart application integrated platforms reduce the load by taking bandwidth away from inactive applications and funnel it towards the ones in use. This improves the efficiency of the entire system and boosts software speeds. In advanced UCaaS software, this can even occur in totally cloud-based applications.
Breakdown in communication is one of the top causes for the failure of relationships, so it comes as no surprise that breakdowns in communication in the workplace are one of the top threats to revenue, productivity, and competitiveness. Unified communications is the technology that helps companies to solve communication problems in the workplace. As our ways of communicating evolve, the UCaaS industry will evolve with us.
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