Predicting the future can be clouded with hype versus substance in volatile markets, but the path for UCaaS in 2019 is already becoming clear. Several strong trends are emerging that are setting the course for development and purchasing. Here are a few that you can expect to see more of in 2019.
The digital workplace is driving more employee and customer engagement opportunities. Enterprises are begging to take some of these existing capabilities like chat, messaging and audio/video conferencing and couple them with workstream collaboration tools like Slack, Asana and monday.com. This allows internal teams as well as outside parties such as customers and partners to not only communicate but share documents, manage projects and engage in a persistent conversation that even a newbie can join in on and see the relevant history.
Embracing a new generation
There was a time when only nerdy developer types were using workstream collaboration tools but that is changing with the influx of millennials and promotion of these tools by Microsoft and others. In case you haven’t notice them heads down on their smartphones in meetings, millennials aren’t just bringing their own devices to work, they are bringing their own apps. Business leaders can either choose to lock down their applications and try to prohibit use of these apps or embrace them and determine how to maintain security while enabling integration. For Trekkies fans, the phrase “resistance is futile” comes to mind. The opportunity for companies to enable employees, customers and partners to engage with each other, documents, project plans, and even with machines is rapidly increasing.
Another area that has yet to go mainstream but is getting a lot of attention is artificial intelligence (AI) in the UC space. We are seeing early adopters of virtual assistants that can interact with IP-enabled devices like phones and conferencing systems to start and stop meetings. Virtual assistants are also showing promise as meeting transcription and scheduling apps with capabilities to listen for key words like “action item, take a note, priority, constraint” and create a follow up list for participants. My personal favorite app is Voicera. The evolution of these tools to the mobile space will have faster adoption and more practical business applications from this authors point of view. After all, you more likely to want/need help joining a meeting or taking notes when you are mobile. AI will also pop up almost un-noticed in other areas like the ability to set communications preferences based on where you are, coupled with your habits or the time of day. For example, “automatically forward my calls to my mobile device once I leave the office or at 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday.“
Tracking productivity and engagement
Finally, don’t think for a minute that with the new engagement tools that are expanding faster than we can keep up, hello Apple watch, that companies won’t figure out that tracking productivity for employees and customer engagement is not only possible but extremely valuable. Software that tracks, trends and predicts performance and interactions will become invaluable for insights on the level of engagement, cultural transformation and predictors of future actions.
The tech evolution certainly shows no signs of slowing down and UCaaS is no exception to this. 2019 is shaping up to be another monumental year for UCaaS adoption and advancements. It’s an exciting time, and fascinating to know that the digital trends embraced now will impact the workplace for years to come.
Scott Yelton is head of product management for OfficeSuite UC® at Windstream Enterprise, where he is responsible for management of growth and lifecycle for the company’s leading UCaaS solution. He has over 21 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Prior to Windstream, Scott was the Director of Product Development and Strategy for both Earthlink and Deltacom, where he had also led sales Engineering. He began his career in telecom in sales and sales management roles for Sprint and BTI Communications. Scott is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a degree in marketing and management.
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