4 Key Trends Set to Unify Enterprise Communications
Cloud capabilities, combined with an open platform that connects the enterprise and drives deeper intelligence, will make for an exciting 2017.
Workplace communications has dramatically evolved over the past decade and continued innovation in the space has enabled enterprises to tap into the rich power of the cloud. Last year set a strong foundation for cloud communications, and 2017 will be a year of significant innovation -- and here are some of the key trends you can expect to see.
- Cloud communications will continue to move upmarket and become mainstream. Cloud communications technologies such as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) were first embraced by small and medium-sized businesses (similar to other cloud technology adoption), but have been gaining traction in the mid-market and enterprise segment over the last few years. In 2017, we'll see this become more mainstream, with mid-market and enterprise businesses adopting cloud communications faster than anyone had previously predicted. The economics, flexibility, and business agility benefits are too compelling for organizations of all sizes to ignore any longer. In fact, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan, the cloud communications user base is projected to grow at an annual rate of 25% to 30% through 2020.
- Basic IP dial tone and simple voice and messaging apps will become commodities, and this proliferation will drive the importance of an open platform approach. The communications stack has never been more complex than it is today, underpinned by legacy telephony infrastructure that supports a disparate set of applications used by employees and customers alike. With the proliferation of business apps and tools across the enterprise, there is a need to provide simplicity and intelligence by connecting all these systems, apps, and tools. This will be the year of convergence and open platforms for enterprise communications, driven by enterprises looking for open and integrated solutions that connect the dots between various systems, clouds, and applications -- from phone to chat, and team collaboration tools to video conferencing. Their goal will be to create differentiated communications functionality among many different business clouds, as well as to deliver simplicity and rich, contextual data and real-time insights for better business outcomes.
- Enterprises will tap into analytics and big data to drive business intelligence across their organizations. We'll see cloud communications overall move up the enterprise stack to provide increased business intelligence through real-time analytics that supports line-of-business applications such as sales, HR, finance, and marketing. Analytics have become increasingly important over the last year, and in 2017 enterprises will more effectively leverage this data to drive informed business decisions and actionable outcomes. Additionally, the contact center will increasingly become a hotbed of innovation -- providing, for example, speech analytics to real-time intelligent routing. This will help drive similar innovations across lines of business to better serve all company stakeholders.
- New generations entering the workforce will define the future of enterprise communications. As each new generation enters the workforce, it brings with it new expectations that set the pace and direction for future innovation. Not long ago, our discussions centered on the future of work as it relates to millennials. However, 2016 was the first year that members of the Generation Z cohort started entering the workforce. Gen Z's preferences, habits, and characteristics are unique and employers need to take notice now as they'll quickly infiltrate the workforce within the next five years. Gen Z values effective communication over convenience, and will put a heavier emphasis on collaboration with the smartphone being the hub of communications. New mobile apps, virtual reality, automation, and bots will have a major impact on the way Gen Z works. And this in turn will set the stage for how companies and their IT teams service this new generation (see related recent report from 8x8). This trend is only beginning, and the industry at large will need to keep a close eye on how this new generation will define the future of business communications in the years to come.
It's a strategic time for enterprise communications, and this year will take the industry a step closer to a more open and unified approach. With the simplicity, flexibility, and business agility that the cloud delivers, combined with an open platform approach that connects the enterprise and drives deeper analytics and intelligence, we are poised for an exciting year ahead.