5 Trends Emerging across Unified Communications – from SMB to Enterprise Markets
For this edition of Whiteboard Fridays, we want to acquaint you with five trends in Unified Communications (UC) emerging at every level of the market – from small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) to large enterprises:
- UC as a Service (UCaaS) or Cloud UC
- UC Application-Programming Interfaces, a.k.a. APIs
- Enterprise Messaging, a.k.a. Business Messaging and Workflow Collaboration
- UC Analytics
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Bots for UC
Advances in each of these areas of technology will deliver – and in some cases already are delivering – these basic benefits to organizations of all shapes and sizes:
- Greater flexibility for competitive advantage, as companies scale their products and services across geographies and into new markets.
- Higher productivity through operational efficiencies, as colleagues connect and collaborate with customers, prospects and partners from anywhere at any time.
- Increased user satisfaction through enhanced experiences for staff and customers.
1. What is UC as a Service (UCaaS) or Cloud UC?
TechoPedia defines Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) as a “service model where providers deliver different telecom or communications software applications or services, generally over the global IP network.” In short, UCaaS means UC delivered via the cloud, which is why it’s sometimes called Cloud UC.
UC is one of many business technologies moving to the cloud, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, email and calendar platforms, and storage services. And despite characterizing this trend as “emerging,” West already has a substantial position in the UCaaS space with solutions such as our VoiceMaxx CE offering. In fact, earlier this month the global research and advisory company Gartner, Inc., placed West in the Leaders Quadrant of it’s annual “Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Worldwide” report for the sixth year in a row.
2. What are UC Application-Programming Interfaces (APIs)?
An application-programming interface (API) is a “set of programming instructions and standards for accessing a Web-based software application or Web tool.” As a provider of UC solutions, West offers customers APIs for products and services so they can adapt and customize them to their specific requirements on their own. In this way, we enable them to unlock the benefits of UC described above – greater flexibility, higher productivity and increased user satisfaction.
We’ve produced other videos about APIs for Whiteboard Fridays. Explore our playlist for more insights.
3. What is Enterprise Messaging?
Enterprise Messaging, also called Business Messaging and Workflow Collaboration, is a general term for adapting a messaging tool to a team, project or some other type of organizational structure. For example, a company’s finance department may have a tool for sending messages and sharing files that includes only members of the accounting staff. Or, a team launching a new product may have a tool for collaborating across functional areas solely for the purposes of this temporary project.
Some prominent examples of Enterprise Messaging tools are Slack, Cisco Spark, and Microsoft Teams.
4. What are UC Analytics?
In simple terms, analytics is the field of data analysis, which “ often involves studying historical data to research potential trends, to analyze the effects of certain decisions or events, or to evaluate the performance of a given tool or scenario” in business. In terms of UC, one of the areas where analytics will have the greatest impact is in cloud contact centers. Capturing data in close to real time and learning from it in short order will play a leading role in delivering the basic benefits of UC – greater flexibility, higher productivity and increased user satisfaction.
5. How Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Bots Play in UC?
Like UC analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and bots will have their greatest influence in contact centers first. Imagine an AI-enabled interactive voice response (IVR) system that listens to callers and learns from what they say. Customers could ask complex questions and the IVR could answer in a natural-sounding human voice. In addition, the more questions these systems handle, the more specific and detailed their responses will be. Today, it’s obvious when we’re speaking to an IVR instead of a person. But in time, we expect these interfaces to improve to a point where the distinction will be blurred.
Bots will play on the messaging side of interactions. When someone – colleague or customer – sends an inquiry by email, web chat or SMS, bots will provide an automated intelligent response, formulating answers to questions and replying, as well as finding and sharing files.
What’s Your Take?
Which emerging trends in Unified Communications do you find most fascinating and exciting? Have we missed something here? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Give us a call at 877-489-7647 or use the ‘connect with sales’ button at the right of the page.