It’s no secret that technology is evolving at a phenomenal rate.
For years, we’ve been moving into an increasingly digitized and intelligent landscape, driven by innovations in software and hardware. However, since the pandemic hit in 2020, the “digital transformation” of the world has begun moving at an increasingly rapid pace.
While evidence of the technical revolution is everywhere we look, it’s perhaps most significant in the communications space. The way consumers and businesses communicate in 2022 has transformed, with the introduction of everything from cloud-based platforms to artificial intelligence.
As we prepare for the new world of opportunities 2023 has to offer, it’s worth keeping a close eye on some of the most significant trends set to influence communications tech going forward.
The “as a service” world has become increasingly popular in recent years, as companies have begun searching for ways to increase their agility, while reducing operational costs. In the communication space, “UCaaS” is perhaps the most common example of a cloud-hosted solution. However, the Unified Communications as a Service market is also gradually evolving into something more.
As new vendors arrive on the market to offer Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS), Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, many of these tools are beginning to blend together. We’re seeing a multitude of new companies combine CCaaS and UCaaS into one ecosystem, so businesses have a more effective way of managing end-to-end external and internal communications. At the same time, CPaaS is becoming more infused with the UCaaS landscape, giving companies the freedom to build their own technology stack from scratch.
Going forward, the consolidation of various “aaS” cloud environments is likely to continue, as companies prioritize single-pane-of-glass user interfaces for their teams.
The concept of omnichannel communications is nothing new to businesses investing in both UC and contact center technology. As the digital landscape has evolved, so too have the methods we use to communicate. In recent years, in particular, we’ve seen an influx of CCaaS solutions emerging with access to messaging tools, SMS applications, and even video conferencing services.
Going forward, companies investing in communications technology will need to ensure they’re continuing to not only embrace the latest platforms and channels, but connect them effectively too. It’s not enough to simply have access to all of the right tools for connecting with colleagues and customers, these solutions also need to be able to communicate with eachother.
Truly omnichannel experiences will ensure contextual information can be shared throughout every platform, allowing for a more consistent end-to-end experience. What’s more, the number of “channels” we see will continue to expand, particularly with the arrival of XR and immersion.
For some time now, AI and machine learning has influenced the development of various new communication tools. We’ve seen a rise in the number of companies using chatbots to assist their customers with self-service requests, and intelligent assistants replacing traditional IVRs, to ensure customers are routed to the right agent immediately.
As discoveries in conversational intelligence continue, the impact of AI on the communication space will evolve. Tools are now becoming increasingly capable of understanding the nuances of human speech, allowing for more human-like conversations between bots and people. What’s more, certain communication applications can even use AI to infer data from conversations.
A UCaaS system with a built-in tool for AI analytics can detect everything from sentiment to intent in a conversation. Already about 85% of businesses say they’re either already using AI in their organization, or they’re evaluating how to implement it. Future AI innovations will allow companies to learn more about their target audience, keep employees engaged in the world of hybrid work, and streamline processes with more intelligent automation.
The XR landscape is reaching an important inflection point. Over the last couple of years, extended reality has gone from being an almost unheard-of concept, to being an everyday tool for communications providers. Today’s business leaders are already using things like virtual reality to create collaborative environments for their team members when staff are distributed over a large number of different locations.
Augmented and Mixed Reality can benefit communications too, by providing users with more valuable information in-the-moment to overlay on top of their existing environments. Mixed Reality innovations could even lead to a future where team members can send holographic versions of themselves to other offices to interact with staff members, or to customer locations to provide service.
The demand for immersive technology in communication is likely to become particularly important as concepts like the “Metaverse” gain steam. As consumers and businesses alike spend more time in the digital world, XR will provide a valuable opportunity to bring people together for creative discussions and development.
The network environment is still an important concept for companies investing in communication tools. As businesses continue to embrace more advanced solutions for communication and collaboration, it will be increasingly important to ensure the right systems are in place to keep staff members productive, from SD-WAN to SASE.
At the same time, edge computing is becoming increasingly popular, as a way to bring the benefits and capabilities of cloud services closer to user equipment. With edge-based solutions, companies will be able to improve the communication between machines and IoT-enabled devices in their office spaces and business environments. Edge cloud solutions also allow for better availability and reliability, and lower latency when dealing with XR interactions.
On the other side of the network landscape, we also have the rise of 5G for enabling faster mobile and friction-free connections. As employees in the digital landscape continue to be distributed across a much wider environment, 5G will allow for better quality video conferencing and communication on a global scale. Many communication leaders have already invested in partnerships and strategies to devise their own 5G and mobility solutions.
With the arrival of new communication technologies and trends, comes an increase in the amount of data companies need to collect and process each day. This is prompting significant concern for companies and consumers alike, who are understandably concerned about what’s going to happen to the information they share. According to Accenture, in the first 6 months of 2021 alone, the number of cyberattacks happening globally increased by around 125%.
Changing trends in work and communication have led to an influx of potential security problems for businesses to deal with. Employees are working from different environments without access to secure networks. Consumers are reaching out on a multitude of different apps and channels. What’s more, everything is being stored in the cloud at a rapid pace, increasing demand for cloud security.
As regulatory guidelines and security standards continue to evolve, companies moving into the future of communications will need to ensure they’re taking safety into consideration. Compliance, privacy, and security strategies based around creating “Data Trusts” are likely to become more important in 2023 and beyond.
It’s difficult to say with any certainty what the new era of communication will bring. Already in the last year, we’ve seen some phenomenal changes in the way we connect and interact. As new innovations continue to roll out in 2023, there’s no doubt our communications landscape will continue to evolve, presenting new opportunities and challenges.
In virtually all cases, however, the key to success for many businesses will be ensuring they have the right vendors and partners on hand to assist with their digital transformation. With access to the right support, companies can ensure they’re staying one step ahead of the communication trends.