It’s no surprise that unified communications (UC) have come forward in leaps and bounds in recent years. They offer the integration and flexibility that modern businesses need to maintain their competitive edge. It doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either, now that organizations across all industry sectors recognize the many benefits UC brings to productivity and collaboration.
Here are four trends that will continue to define the UC market in 2019:
#1. 5G will start to enter the mainstream
5G is the fifth generation of mobile communications. It aims to bring ultra-fast mobile internet into the mainstream while reducing costs. After extensive testing and development throughout 2018, the next year will ultimately see its first commercial deployment, starting with the first phase of 5G specifications to be released in March.
Mobile data continues to be prohibitively expensive for many applications though prices have been dropping steadily. 5G is expected to change that with speeds as quick as 10Gb/s, combined with lower latencies and increased network capacity. However, it will also require new hardware, which will surely slow adoption rates until it enters the mainstream.
#2. Adoption of UC as a Service (UCaaS) will increase
Until a few years ago, corporate communications revolved around landline telephony, email, and even the postal service. Larger corporations would invest in costly outdated technology to take advantage of automated attendants and call-monitoring. At the same time, there has long been a lack of integrated communications, leading to slower response times and stunted corporate growth.
UCaaS is about outsourcing your communications infrastructure to the cloud. Instead of paying for expensive in-house hardware, you have your systems managed by a third party. Employees can also access their video and audio communications through any internet-connected device because everything is hosted in the cloud.
#3. In-app communications will be widespread
UC prioritizes the integration of all communication services that a company uses. The goal is to increase efficiency, maximize productivity, and reduce costs, but it’s not an easy one to achieve. The most effective UC systems are extensively integrated, with information like contact numbers and instant messaging applications being immediately accessible through a centralized interface.
In-app communications are already commonplace, but integrations continue to get better and more sophisticated. Developers are working hard to integrate services such as real-time video and audio communications into mobile, cloud, and desktop apps. For example, far from being the standalone application it used to be, Skype has become a core component of the entire Microsoft Office 365 environment.
#4. Artificial intelligence will transform customer experiences
Just a decade ago, artificial intelligence (AI) was little more than science fiction. Today, consumers are accustomed to virtual assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa in their day-to-day lives. 2018 saw the unprecedented rise of AI startups and the adoption of technology across a wide variety of industries.
AI will also transform call centers in the years ahead. It’s already making them more efficient by quickly answering common questions rather than having customers wait for someone to pick up. Behind the scenes, businesses increasingly adopt AI as a way to predict customer behavior and provide valuable insights to businesses. In 2019, we can expect the acceptance of bots in the business environment to increase exponentially.
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