Business communications technology moves surprisingly quickly. Yes, the driving purpose of solutions such as Unified Communications (UC) essentially stays the same but the underlying technology, feature set, and business benefits are constantly improving.
In 2019 it is proving no different with a range of technology advances that deliver big benefits for businesses. We think the following five Unified Communications industry trends will deliver efficiencies, improve customer and employee experience and boost collaboration.
1. The Rise of Global SIP
Employee collaboration and multi-channel customer engagement are strategic imperatives. Businesses are reviewing the quality of their global communications and the cost of improving or replacing legacy systems. But where do you start when planning a long-term strategy for your phone and Contact Centre systems – possibly your most business-critical IT investment?
The rise of SIP as an intelligent, low-cost enabler of essential collaboration services has created a new starting point from which to build your communications strategy.
Crucially, the global availability of SIP now gives multinational businesses the opportunity to capitalise on reliable voice and multimedia communications worldwide, with simpler management and reduced cost. Uniquely, these two essential capabilities are now available as a single SIP service.
This is placing more emphasis on voice network infrastructure, PSTN replacement opportunities and the need for a reliable platform for a simpler, centralised transition to cloud communications.
2. Business Communications Are Becoming More Complex to Deploy
Reliable, flexible communication tools are just the first step. Many scenarios also benefit from highly customised communications platforms that go beyond merely providing text, voice and video communications. While UCaaS platforms can often deliver highly customised experiences, UCaaS does not offer companies the ability to build a truly custom communications platform.
This drive for differentiation in the marketplace and personalisation in the workplace is placing new demands on systems integration and digital transformation.
Bespoke integration skills are needed from your communications partner of choice, as well as the resources and experience necessary to address these challenges through their IT network services. As complex requirements become the norm, highly bespoke, flexible, best-fit solutions are needed over the one-size-fits-all approach of the big network carriers.
3. UC Provisioning Is Increasingly Cloud-Centric
Technology and communications are increasingly provisioned in the cloud, and that goes for UC too. In fact, a 2019 research study by Nemertes indicated that 67% of organisations are already deploying at least part of their UC solution in the cloud while a third of companies are going all-out for cloud deployment.
Also known as unified communications as a service, or UCaaS, cloud-based UC delivers high levels of flexibility and scalability while reducing costs associated with on-premise deployments. UCaaS solutions deliver unique benefits too with universal accessibility, enterprise-grade features and extremely high levels of reliability.
In other words, it is not just a matter of the broader drive to the cloud that’s bringing companies around to UCaaS, cloud-based unified communications has something unique to offer which is why more and more companies are making the switch.
4. More Artificial Intelligence in Everyday Communications
CPaaS is not the only trend that is shaping the ability of businesses to deliver unique communications experiences. Artificial intelligence and automation are becoming increasingly prevalent through 2019 as benefits such as smart bots prove their usefulness in everyday communications.
It is not just a matter of providing customers with a machine to talk to instead of a human. AI can add intelligence to several layers of the communications experience: contact centre agents are able to predict customer requirements on the fly, while employees have instant access to key information assets during their use of unified communications solutions.
AI does require complex, expensive supporting infrastructure but as UC becomes increasingly cloud-first more and more companies can tap into the AI expertise of technology behemoths like Amazon - which includes AI capabilities in its UCaaS service, Amazon Connect. So, in 2019, we expect AI-driven UC solutions to become increasingly accessible.
5. Increasingly Considering EX as Much as CX
Unified communications market trends are often strongly focused on the customer experience, or CX. And rightly so, as CX drives profitability. However, the employee experience or EX can also be significantly enhanced with unified communications. In turn, improved EX can drive the customer experience too.
UC done right makes employees more efficient than they would otherwise be and also reduces friction and stress. More effective employees reduce costs and boost customer levels. We expect that UC will increasingly drive the employee experience too.
Stay Ahead of Unified Communications Trends Via Your UC Partner
Yes, UC changes rapidly but that does not mean companies have to try and keep abreast of UC trends on their own. Your communications partner can help you get the most out of 2019’s UC trends.
If your company is just starting out with unified communications we recommend you read our guide What is Unified Communications (UC) and why does it matter? for insight into what UC solutions can do for your business and examples of unified communications benefits.
Already deploying a UC solution but feel that it’s not delivering the promised benefits? Think that your company needs to tap into some of the trends we highlighted? Get in touch with us to see how we can get your business on board with 2019’s unified communications trends.