UC EXPO has just wrapped up, with the event this year highlighting how emerging technologies are enabling smarter and more collaborative work across organisations. The event, the largest unified communications and collaboration event in Europe, examined how UC, cloud, collaboration, artificial intelligence (AI), and customer contact solutions can all deliver huge productivity gains for organisations, leading to significant competitive advantages. Here are some of the key learnings about trends and technologies that are changing the landscape of business collaboration.
Digital transformation continues to dominate boardroom discussions with technology increasingly recognised as playing a central role in any modern organisation’s growth strategy. Data suggests that three quarters of UK companies expect to have a digital transformation strategy in place by 2019, fuelled by software-defined solutions and the power of the cloud. This will have a huge impact on businesses, introducing not only new technologies but also changing the culture and transforming the way people work and interact.
Legacy communication systems cannot cope with this evolving landscape. To win at digital transformation, businesses need to modernise their communication systems and enable employees to communicate the way they want. It isn’t just about replacing a traditional PBX; successful collaboration is about embracing a new productive, flexible, and agile way of working, driven by next generation technologies like unified communications as a service (UCaaS). UCaaS adoption continues to grow among organisations of all sizes looking to take advantage of the latest collaboration solutions with the ability to tailor their technology use in line with their own changing requirements and avoid a large upfront IT investment.
Collaboration was a key theme at UC EXPO this year. Reflecting the changing business landscape, research claims the time that employees spend engaged in collaborative work has increased around 50 percent. Effective collaboration is essential for an increasingly mobile workforce and is seen as a ‘must have’ for a younger generation of employees entering the workplace with unique expectations and demands.
According to PWC’s global Millennials at Work study, millennials want to instantly connect, engage, and collaborate with coworkers and managers in ways that are natural to them, leading to better productivity across the enterprise. They also expect the technologies they use in their personal lives to also drive communication and innovation in the workplace. Moreover, 59 percent believe an employer’s provision of state-of-the art technology is important when considering a job. Therefore, employers must offer employees collaboration tools that are easy to use, offer a great user experience, and can be accessed from anywhere, across any device.
Collaboration will enable business success in the digital era not as a standalone platform or siloed user experience, but as part of one integrated, high-performance platform that can empower the workforce even further.
AI and UC
AI is the topic on everybody’s lips, and UC EXPO was no exception with some exciting potential applications for collaboration in enterprise messaging and meeting systems, presence technology, smart headsets, room systems, telephony, and video conferencing. An analysis from Frost & Sullivan has already recognised the important role AI will play in the growth of UC, claiming it will “enhance business outcomes, unlock next-level value, and produce greater return on investment (ROI).”
The key is to adopt an open platform to enable technology integration and unlock the power of a cloud ecosystem. Whilst thousands of companies are already utilising smart chatbots in their contact centres in order to deal with user inquiries and concerns, AI is now an integral part of some cloud UC platforms. RingCentral Glip™, a cloud team collaboration platform, uses AI to automate processes and enables seamless integrated workflows with key businesses applications such as Salesforce®, Trello, Zendesk®, and more to send notifications and alerts directly within Glip®, without users having to open a separate application.
Effective and intelligent collaboration is growing within the modern workforce and will become a deal breaker for the next generation of workers.
The convergence of cloud, AI, machine learning (ML), mobility, social media platforms, and other emerging technologies with UC will present a world of possibilities for the future of collaboration. Cloud will underpin these changes, and a ‘pay-as-you-go’ consumption model like UCaaS will form an integral part of any organisation’s digital transformation.