Unified communications serve as a crucial investment opportunity for streamlining enterprise communications, augmenting productivity, and delivering seamless user experiences.
Here are some of the top trends that are going to shape the unified communications and collaboration market in the year 2020.
1. Increased adoption of Cloud UC
The future of modern communication infrastructures is going to be cloud-based. With the growing accessibility of the internet, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) has become a more viable and cost-effective option than maintaining in-house networks. As the maintenance and management of on-premises solutions are becoming more expensive and challenging, businesses are shifting to UCaaS solutions to streamline critical business functions and enable quick access to their data, audio, and video communication through any internet-ready device. Moreover, because everything is stored on the cloud, disaster recovery and business continuity are better addressed.
2. AI and ML integrations
Though AI and ML integrations are the newest additions to UC systems, there is plenty of evidence that it can help organizations streamline their operations. By leveraging AI and ML, businesses can improve employee productivity and collaboration using data analytics of user behavior and corporate communication patterns. Customer service applications of unified communications are also beneficiaries of AI and ML, with speech-to-text capabilities, intelligent decisioning engines, and virtual assistants or bots.
3. The proliferation of AR & VR
AR & VR technology is redefining customer experience technology and have already found integration in many cross-vertical applications such as healthcare, entertainment, and more. AR & VR technology holds the potential to drive innovation in the UC environment by turning overlying information into visual content in real-time and letting staff truly ‘experience’ collaboration. Even though still in nascent stages, AR & VR technology has the potential to change the UC game.
4. IoT-powered mobile workforce
As the second quarter of 2020 has ended on the verge of a pandemic, we are witnessing a shift in the definition of work as a space rather than a place. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, worldwide employees are forced to work virtually, conduct meetings, and file reports from their homes. It is the proliferation of smartphones and increased enterprise adoption of futuristic applications and devices running on IoT, which has made this unification possible. Moving forward, companies need to train employees to use mobile and smart devices to boost their communication and collaboration possibilities wherever they are, without any threat of data loss or security vulnerabilities.
5. Virtual meeting rooms
Virtual meetings or video conferencing have already been adopted in many companies to save time and resources, deliver clear messages, and keep executive boards updated with the latest developments within the organization. Virtual meeting rooms enable people to communicate efficiently in real-time over the internet using integrated audio, video, chats, and application tools regardless of their location. The growing global trend towards remote working and distributed office setup compel enterprises to invest in virtual conferences and other unified communications systems in their organizations.
6. 5G connectivity
The emergence of 5G connectivity has advanced the network architecture and brings home the speed that the world demands today. Owing to its high-end features, 5G equips UC systems with exceptional capabilities in terms of data speed, capacity, and low latency, delivering a series of benefits including improved HD video streaming, AR & VR integration, enhanced collaboration, and improved VoIP services across multiple locations. This empowers businesses to leverage staff video calls in 4k, introduce virtual tours into video calls, and many more.
7. Smart devices and wearables
An exponential increase in the global use of smart devices and wearable technology including watches, fitness trackers andclothing, have unearthed a gold mine for the unified communications landscape. With the ever-increasing adoption of smartphones in business, companies are gradually turning to smart devices as a key driver for adopting unified communications in the workplace, and plan to invest in smartphone apps for optimizing their business processes.
The global trends in the UC market today indicate the increasing use of blockchain to accelerate the migration of mobile numbers to different service providers, and integrating workplace communication channels is the latest trend. As blockchain serves as a decentralized ledger that can provide standardized access and routing lookup for all operators worldwide, companies are investing in this emerging tech to optimize the mobile number portability (MPN), local number portability (LNP), do not call (DNC) registries of their office phones, mobile phones, as well as their VoIP phones.
9. Embedding CPaaS and APIs for workflow optimization
Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) provides businesses with a comprehensive framework for their unified communications requirements, rather than investing in separate apps and tools for different functions like video conferencing, calling, and messaging. Moreover, the growing demand for ease of access and centralized management in the UC landscape persuaded organizations to embrace CPaaS and APIs into their existing business tools. This can propel the integration of instant messaging, video calling, or appointment reminders on the company’s systems, rendering superior user experience for the employee and customers alike.
10. Enhancing data security
In this data-driven world, companies continue to collect user information whenever they can to provide personalized customer services and stay ahead of the competition. Besides, the rapid proliferation of cloud computing and the increased pace of technology adoption have raised concerns regarding data security and privacy as well. As a result, companies are mandated by regulations to build-in data security and privacy protection in their UC architecture to secure user information, as well as to earn the trust of their customers. Pointing critical investments in security systems to ensure data protection, messaging encryption, fraud prevention, security controls, and network flexibility is another key trend that is going to shape the UC market this year.
For decades, people have dreamed about robot helpers and predicted their imminent arrival. With today’s growing use of artificial intelligence (AI), it seems their time has finally come.
Statistics tell the story. Some 59 percent of organizations have already deployed some form of AI, according to a recent survey. Within the next year, the number of AI projects should double. For enterprise companies, the main driver of AI adoption is improving the customer experience, although their vision goes beyond chatbots answering basic customer questions. More than half (56 percent) of organizations use AI to help employees make better decisions and provide a superior level of customer service.
This is where AI within the contact center comes into play. It does more than simply provide faster customer service. Today’s AI technology has grown to the point where it fills numerous roles and wears several hats.
Here are some benefits from AI’s advanced use in today’s high performance contact centres
1. AI As The Data Collector
Without data, you can’t improve your level of customer service. You need to know what your customers want and why they’re contacting you so you can prepare your agents with appropriate information and resources. However, all that data is useless if you don’t have the means to analyze it and put it to use.
AI technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) interpret data and provide analysis around areas such as:
Why customers contact you
Ways you can improve your products and services
The availability of information to customers
This kind of data lets you move beyond efficiency and actually improve your overall customer experience and satisfaction levels. More importantly, real-time insights allow you to adapt to customers’ preferences quickly – and stay ahead of the competition.
2. AI As The Assistant
Contact centers need assistance in more ways than one, and AI helps with them all. In addition to real-time coaching, AI chatbots provide faster and more personalized customer service. AI virtual agents can interpret and access customer data, so they can handle more inquiries on their own, freeing up human agents to handle complex calls.
Machine learning enables AI bots to determine when a customer is getting frustrated and needs a human touch. When this happens, customers aren’t placed in a random queue. Rather, AI technology routes their call to the most qualified person and, at the same time, provides them with a full transcript of the conversation. That saves customers from the nuisance of having to repeat themselves.
Once a human is involved, AI technology assists in the background. Bots monitor the conversation and present the human agent with relevant information that helps them satisfy the customer. From product information to weather forecasts, the virtual agent can access both internal and external data to make sure the customer has a smooth and pleasant experience.
It’s now possible for your contact center to have a “Rosie” of its own, just like the Jetsons. AI technology provides real-time coaching, advanced analytics and real-time assistance to create a more personalized customer experience and a stronger, well-armed team of contact center agents. Start taking advantage of AI technology today by working with a provider that’s committed to innovation and provides the latest advantages that AI can bring to your contact center.
3. AI As The Trainer
If you run a typical contact center, chances are you have a high volume of calls coming in each day, answered by a team comprised of both veteran and rookie agents. Businesses are always working to improve the quality of customer interactions, of course, and typically they’ve done this by recording and analyzing conversations, then providing feedback to specific employees or the entire team. While this approach gets the job done, it takes time. That means it can be a while before your agents get the feedback they need to improve.
AI introduces real-time training through virtual agents. These are similar to chatbots, except they’re powered by AI technology. Whether a customer begins their journey with a virtual agent or goes straight to a human, virtual agents monitor interactions via speech or text, “listening” to the words exchanged and their sentiment. In real time, virtual agents coach human reps, making sure they deliver a customer experience that’s not only efficient and effective, but also on-brand and on-message.
The implications of real-time coaching are significant. Supervisors are freed up to perform other work, and an agent who may only be a week into their job can handle calls just as well as a 10-year veteran. Customers enjoy a consistent, positive interaction regardless of the agent’s experience level. And, the benefits extend to the agents themselves, since they can now avoid the frustration that comes with a new job and demanding customers who want fast answers.