From both an internal and external perspective, communication is key to corporate success. Any business that struggles to support communication between employees and with customers will inevitably struggle to remain efficient, productive and profitable.
However, the standard for effective communication is always changing. Right now, many would agree that the implementation of a unified communications system is fast becoming a basic requirement. To keep pace with evolving expectations in the coming years, firms need to not only accept UC, but go further and prepare for UC's future.
Video conferencing rising
Take, for example, the issue of video conferencing. Video conferencing is a fairly standard component of most UC deployments, but it is not universal. After all, video conferencing is widely seen as a less essential communication channel than voice and email.
As a recent Polycom survey revealed, though, this will not be the case for much longer. Among survey respondents, email was easily the preferred form of enterprise communication, popular among 89 percent of participants, according to Developing Telecoms. Voice conferencing was next at 64 percent, followed by video conferencing, which was chosen by 47 percent of users.
When asked to identify which communication instrument will lead the way in two years, though, the majority of respondents selected video conferencing, followed closely by email. This suggests a major change is underway when it comes to how employees want to, and expect to, conduct communications in the near future. Those businesses that are able to accommodate employees' preferences by offering high-quality video conferencing solutions will be well-positioned to maximize productivity, as well as worker and customer satisfaction.
Another key upcoming UC trend that firms should take action on now is the growing importance of mobile channels. Network World reported that the mobile growth rate through 2020 is expected to reach 15 percent annually at a minimum. The source explained that as mobility becomes more widespread, consumers increasingly come to depend on smartphones and tablets for business communication purposes.
To accommodate these preferences, companies must ensure their contact centers are completely UC-enabled. Customers should be able to reach out for support via a range of mobile-based channels, including text messaging, mobile video and more, the source noted.
"Customers should be able to request support via a range of mobile channels."
This also holds true on the internal side. Network World pointed out that the bring-your-own-device trend continues to pick up steam. The source pointed to a Gartner report that predicted that half of all companies will actually require employees to provide their own devices for work-related purposes.
But BYOD is only an effective, powerful strategy if companies have the communications systems in place to fully support this approach. Workers need to be able to use their mobile devices to share files, communicate with one another and more. Critically, if a business does not provide employees with a robust, authorized UC solutions, workers will simply turn to consumer-grade alternatives. This creates cybersecurity problems, as many of these options will not be sufficient to provide business-quality data protection. Additionally, the IT team will lack oversight, making it even more difficult to prevent cyberattacks and breaches.
The right approach
With all of that said, the question becomes: How can a business best go about preparing for the future of UC? Obviously, upgrading capabilities to account for these and other trends is essential, but that only scratches the surface. To maximize their UC potential, both now and in the coming years, it's imperative for organizations to choose the right UC tools and strategy.
To this end, it's crucial for decision-makers to partner with experienced, well-qualified UC solutions providers to develop a customized approach that fully takes into account the company's unique goals and requirements. Only such a tailored strategy can ensure the UC solution remains effective for years to come.