What is the Future of Unified Communications?
The Unified Communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) sector has evolved rapidly in recent years. UCaaS has taken the business world by storm, and there’s no sign yet of a let-up in momentum with the shift to managing remote teams. Transparency Market Research predicts the UC market will be worth $79.3 billion by 2024.
It’s fair to assume that by 2024 UC solutions will be very different from those we see today. What, though, are the trends that will shape the sector in the new decade? While there’s no way to know for sure, the following look set to have a significant impact on the future of UCaaS:
- Increased influence of AI for smart UC
- Continued decline of traditional hardware and systems
- Even more intelligent conferencing & meeting features
- More influence of open platform processes
- SD-WAN to become an undisputed standard
AI & Smart UC
AI is having an impact on a wide range of industries and sectors. UC is no exception. The first steps of an AI revolution in business communication are getting taken. AI-powered chatbots and data analysis are already a part of some of the most cutting-edge UC platforms.
As we get deeper into the 2020s, the impact of AI is only going to increase. Real-time call analytics is one example. With AI, smart UC platforms could start to offer sentiment analysis as standard. That’s where an AI virtual assistant can assess a caller’s voice to discern their mood and attitude. By doing so, it can then offer advice and guidance to the agent speaking to the caller.
Decline of Traditional Hardware & Systems
UC platforms have already started to phase out elements of traditional telephony setups. Desk phones are increasingly getting replaced by softphones. Hosted PBX systems are taking the place of older, hardware-based alternatives. VoIP is becoming the go-to telecoms choice for most businesses. Those trends are only likely to continue as the new decade wears on.
The modern workplace is more mobile and flexible than ever before. Rather than hardware that ties them to one place, businesses want software-based solutions. Rather than complex systems that need expert management, companies need simplicity and speed. The development of UC up to now has reflected these desires. Moving forward, it’s likely we can expect more of the same.
Intelligent Conferencing & Meeting Room Features
Video conferencing and collaboration are vital elements of most UC platforms. As these solutions have evolved, more and more features have come to support them. Firms now routinely use things like screen-sharing and integrated file sharing tools to power meetings. In the future, conferencing features may become more intelligent still.
AI could once again have a significant impact in this area. Bots that follow discussions and share relevant documents are a real possibility. It’s also possible that AR or even VR could enter the meeting room space.
VR meeting rooms or augmented displays to support video calls could be a path for future UC to explore. The possibility splits experts and professionals, though. Many believe that AR and VR will stay in the tech, rather than the business world.
Open Platform Development
The UCaaS sector is growing apace. The market is expanding, and with that, more companies are offering UC solutions. As this trend continues, it becomes vital for these firms to differentiate themselves. They’ll need to look for unique features and elements that they can offer customers that their rivals can’t.
One way to achieve more innovation is via open platform development. The next generation of UC solutions might get developed by open platform tech. Things like APIs or multi-application integrations, for instance. Such development may help companies build the UC elements they need into a stack that suits them.
SD-WAN as Standard
This is a final potential future trend for UC that’s one for the techies. There’s a belief that firms will only get the best out of UCaaS if they use a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN helps streamline a firm’s network activity. It does so by routing data through infrastructure in the most efficient way possible.
A UC platform supported by SD-WAN shows certain benefits over those reliant on older data transfer alternatives. Those benefits are most notable in the area of real-time communications. Video calls and conferences are much less likely to pixelate, freeze, or drop out. SD-WAN could, as a result, become a standard for UCaaS solutions.
The 2020s – An Exciting Decade for UC
UC has had a profound impact on business communication. Companies can communicate, collaborate, and cooperate more efficiently than ever before. UCaaS, though, hasn’t yet peaked. There’s potential for further evolution in the coming decade.
Whether that evolution will include the trends mentioned above remains to be seen. What’s certain is that the 2020s will be a fascinating decade for the UCaaS sector.