If one wants to glimpse the future of enterprise communications, look no further than how we use personal devices. As we continue into 2016, the “appification” of the enterprise will continue apace, as cloud-based unified communications and collaboration (UCC) takes hold.
Mobility and real-time collaboration are leading innovation in enterprise environments. The traditional approaches of siloed communications—i.e. voicemail, call forwarding and recording, email and more as discrete processes with their own interfaces—still very much permeate most organizations for now. But those companies that can be agile, embrace UCC and integrate their comms systems and devices are going to win in the long-term.
That’s the view of Peter Santeusanio, partner and CTO of BCStrategies.com.
“UC is woven in with all sorts of other things, especially in the tech world,” he said in a recent interview. “UC is not a distinct technology, but rather something that weaves into everything else. Classic forms of communication are evolving. Connecting new ways of communication with old-school business processes is a hot area right now.”
And those new ways of communication are largely coming from the realm of personal, mobile communications. The rapid expansion of devices and capabilities, compounded by the proliferation of BYOD in the enterprise, has significantly transformed how people conduct business.
“The rate of invention in personal communication has vastly outpaced its enterprise counterpart, shining a light on the shortcomings of the outdated legacy hardware still permeating offices,” said Steve Kokinos, CEO at Fuze, in a recent column.
He added, “As we witness the pendulum of technology continue its inevitable swing from creation to innovation to disruption and back toward creation, outdated legacy offerings will be left behind in favor of lightweight solutions that facilitate collaboration and make distributed workforces more agile and productive,” said Kokinos.
Quantitative research bears this out. This year, more than 50 percent of large and midsize organizations will be running some unified communications (UC) applications in either private or public clouds, according to Gartner. That’s important groundwork for the future: the firm’s research has also revealed that mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019—a fact that will drive ever more workers to move away from the landline and toward app-filled mobile devices
That said, networking departments have a way to go in order to harness the differentiating opportunities that this presents. For instance, by 2017, mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them, Gartner said.
Most companies have legacy infrastructure and on-premise communication tools, like PBX desk phones, contact center platforms and audio conferencing solutions. There needs to be a shift to cloud-based software solutions that can provide real-time access, anywhere access to resources. “New cloud-based app solutions will continue to redefine business communication, and disruption will continue to shape the narrative of this market throughout 2016,” said Kokinos.
The future of business collaboration will also rely even more heavily on innovation in video and web conferencing to support collaboration within a mobile and social workforce. Case in point: A study by Wainhouse Research found that 94 percent of companies utilizing video conferencing saw an upsurge in productivity among their teams.
“As mobility continues to dive further into our personal and professional lives, businesses that embrace the appification of their workplace will be the ones on top,” Kokinos said. “And the more teams are encouraged to use high-performance, forward-thinking applications to manage communications, the more productive, resourceful and interconnected they will become.”
Ultimately, the future rests with a multi-modal approach to working: voice, video, collaboration and mobile, all wrapped in a UCC suite that defines and is built for mobile, real-time collaboration.
“With mobile, cloud and enhanced web technologies such as WebRTC, solutions have changed. Today at work, it is about email, messaging, calls and meetings,” said Jim Lundy, an analyst with Aragon Research, in a blog. “This all means that the market has shifted…Business users need to get work done and the more they can work seamlessly, the faster and more effectively the work can be done. So while voice is important, the need for a larger more holistic view of the market is needed.”