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No Jitter Roll 2021: Hybrid Work and AI Shape the Year

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Business woman thinking about AI
Image: metamorworks - stock.adobe.com
One of the perks of the weekly No Jitter Roll is the way it tracks the week's news, and one of the sustained joys in this feature is seeing what trends emerge in the news over time. In 2021, the No Jitter Roll covered more than 200 different news stories, and a few patterns emerged to give us a better picture of the year in communication and collaboration technologies. Here are the biggest technology trends that emerged from the No Jitter Roll for 2021 and the dozens of stories that comprised those trends.
 
Trend One: Meeting Services and Devices Address Hybrid Reality
Although ambiguity characterized office life in 2021 — were employees going back? Are we staying home? Both? One thing did become very clear: A market has been born for technology that improves the experience for both on-site and remote meeting participants. From smart cameras to enhanced room technologies to headsets, devices can smooth out some of the technological bumps that have been typical to the remote-work experience.
 
To meet the demands of hybrid working, vendors revealed a host of updates to their cloud meeting services. Some included:
To further support hybrid work, vendors also released video devices for employees to collaborate in the office, home, and everywhere in-between. These announcements included:
Another device that saw increased interest this year was headsets, as they provided employees a simple way to block out work distractions (at home or in the office) and enhanced the audio quality of their video meetings. Some headset announcements this year included:
Additionally, we saw a number of phone device announcements; several around finding ways to address germs concerns through antimicrobial technology, including:
Elsewhere in the industry, vendors added workplace metrics to their cloud services with the aim to improve the employee experience. These included:
 
Trend Two: Microsoft Expands Teams Ecosystem and Continues Platform Updates
Many industry analysts considered Microsoft a comparative latecomer to the collaboration territory when Microsoft Teams launched nearly five years ago. Since then, Microsoft has added a host of Teams features, partners, and devices through its Teams certification program. Microsoft has also provided enterprises with a path to bring their legacy telephony services to the cloud (see content on Direct Routing and Operator Connect) and expanded its compliance features, addressing the needs of industries with strict regulations around data privacy and retention.
 
Throughout the last year of news, we saw Microsoft make a host of updates to its Teams platform, including:
We also saw an increased interest in getting voice services into Teams. Some announcements in this area included:
To support Teams collaboration further, Microsoft and its partners made a number of announcements around Teams-certified devices, including:
Lastly, we saw a host of integrations and partnerships that brought third-party functionality into the Teams experience or made it possible to federate between different collaboration apps. These announcements included:
 
Trend Three: Enterprises Continue to Become More AI-Infused
AI — from crunching reams of data to find insights, to automating business processes, to deciphering voice and acting on what people said — showed up in call centers and at every step of the customer experience. It also permeated workspace collaboration spaces, offering improved voice transcription and closed captioning to products and mining everyday interactions for user experience insights.
 
For the contact center, we saw:
For collaboration and communications, we also saw:

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