02 Sep 8 Crucial UCaaS Remote Working Trends
The world is evolving at a faster rate than anyone could have imagined.
Although digital transformation has been evident throughout most industries for several years now, the impact of 2020 pushed this evolution to new heights. In 2020, the global UC and collaboration market grew by a massive 26.7%. During the pandemic, remote working became the new norm, and companies needed to find a way to keep the lights on. The cloud rapidly evolved from a time and money-saving solution to an essential investment for business continuity and growth.
As we move forward to a post-pandemic future, companies have quickly discovered that UCaaS isn’t just for the pandemic. The rise of hybrid and remote work is set to continue long after restrictions have dropped. UCaaS is now the “new normal” for the communication stack.
So, as UCaaS takes over the business landscape, what can we expect to see?
Here, we’re going to discuss some of the common trends likely to influence the way business leaders shop for and implement UCaaS technology.
Adapting to a New Age of Work with UCaaS
Years before the pandemic, companies were already beginning to explore the productivity-boosting and money-saving benefits of remote work. However, the rise of the COVID virus prompted many companies to explore remote working opportunities with speed. Within a matter of weeks, or even days, most workplaces had to transition their team to remote work to ensure their safety.
COVID-19 accelerated a change already in motion, and many organisations discovered just how advantageous the right remote environment could be.
Brands also learned that enabling the future of remote and distributed work meant investing in a new series of crucial tools. For instance, companies relied on UCaaS to keep their employees connected and ensure communications could continue when the office was no longer available.
UCaaS has also evolved to support more elements of remote work. Video conferencing and collaboration are now central parts of many UCaaS environments, along with mobile applications and tools intended to support teams in a flexible environment.
Here are some of the major trends influencing UCaaS investments for 2021, and the age of remote work.
1. A People-First Communication Strategy
For many companies, investing in Unified Communications used to be about finding the best way to “keep the lights on” with communication technology. Now, as the workplace continues to evolve, companies have discovered that UCaaS is a central part of aligning a modern workforce. With a UCaaS environment, businesses can build an ecosystem of connectivity which empowers the average employee, improves company culture, and even has an impact on customer experience too.
Going into the future of UCaaS and remote work, investments will need to be made with a focus on improving the agent and staff experience. Moving from a mindset of focusing on ports to concentrating on the needs of individual people will help business leaders to make UCaaS investments that drive beneficial results.
Taking an increased interest in user experience will also involve building a feedback loop, so companies can gain insights on which tools their employees are using most often, which features they need help with, and even what kind of new tools could generate growth.
2. Increased Focus on Collaboration
Collaboration is now a central part of the UCaaS stack. This doesn’t just mean having the ability to launch video conferencing calls within your UCaaS environment. Companies want a full collaborative ecosystem where people can share files and screens, work together on documents, and even chat through instant messaging systems. Video does represent a big part of the new collaboration environment, however. Video rapidly became the communication method of choice for employees looking to maintain the elements of face-to-face collaboration in a remote environment. UCaaS tools with video conferencing functionality built-in allow team members to maintain a strong connection with their colleagues, wherever they are.
To ensure you have the right collaborations strategy in place for your team, the best thing most UCaaS buyers can do is speak to their employees. Get feedback from your team members to learn more about how they prefer to stay connected when working remotely or in a hybrid environment. Once you implement your collaboration tools, provide training to ensure everyone knows how to use them, and keep an eye on your team’s preferences.
3. Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Assistants
Just as the demand for video and collaboration tools increased during the pandemic, so too did the demand for tools that could otherwise empower the remote workforce. If you’re going to be working with team members distributed worldwide in 2021 and beyond, you’ll need a way to support those employees wherever they are. Having a dedicated tech support professional for each employee would be impossible, but AI offers an alternative.
Artificial Intelligence tools and bots can troubleshoot problems in a UCaaS environment on your employees’ behalf and offer advice on how to fix common issues. Chatbots and virtual assistants also offer access to quick sources of information. A bot can immediately search for the answer to a question among a business knowledge base and respond to employees immediately.
AI tools are rapidly empowering remote employees to accomplish more on their own, when they’re operating in a distributed environment. 4 in 10 organisations are already planning to implement AI applications into their UC environment, and this number continues to grow. The right intelligent tools could even help to boost team productivity by automating various repetitive tasks, like data entry. This means your team members have more time to focus on the activities that matter most.
4. Increased Reliance on Analytics
Analytics and reporting have always been crucial tools in the UCaaS environment. To keep your communication system and your employees working at their best, you need to be able to examine your environment, and make changes when necessary. As remote working continues to evolve, analytics and reporting tools will become more essential.
Supervisors will use reporting solutions and real-time dashboards to keep an eye on things like call quality and employee productivity on a daily basis. Real-time analytics tools can even be connected to AI services which automatically alert a manager or team leader when a problem is detected for a staff member. This makes it easier to rectify issues as quickly as possible.
Long-term analytics and historical insights will give businesses a better idea of which tools their employees are using most frequently in the UC&C environment, so they know how to adjust their budget, and drive the best return on investment. Some analytics solutions can even use AI to make predictions about the future of your UCaaS needs. For instance, predictive analytics can determine when you’re more likely to see problems with your data bandwidth.
5. Demand for More Integrations
One particularly important UCaaS trend in the age of remote and hybrid work is related to the rising demand for connected platforms and services. As companies continue to struggle with managing remote and distributed teams, they need a reliable way to bring various platforms and environments together in a single pane of glass.
A unified environment makes it easier to track valuable information, develop insightful reports, and make better long-term business decisions. At the same time, an integrated environment will also ensure that the people in your team won’t have to waste as much time jumping between disparate applications to stay productive. More applications located in the same place boost employee productivity, and simplify the day-to-day workflow.
Many UCaaS environments have begun to embrace more open environments, where people can add their own APIs, integrations, and connected tools. Leading UCaaS environments will often come with native integrations with leading tools for things like CRM technology, ERP, service desk management, workforce optimisation, and even video conferencing.
6. Connected “aaS” Platforms
Taking the demand for integration to the next level, some organisations are even beginning to offer their customers aligned UCaaS environments which also include contact centre, and CPaaS technology. An aligned UCaaS and CCaaS ecosystem means that companies can connect their agents and workers in the back end of a communication stack, regardless of where they are.
Remote workers can access the same selection of tools wherever they are within a UCaaS landscape, and agents in the contact centre can easily reach out for assistance from specialists in the same space. The connected UCaaS and CCaaS environments make it easier for IT teams and business leaders to maintain the security of the communication and technology landscape, and provision new features.
Integration of CPaaS, or Communication Platform as a Service tools and APIs means that businesses can add more of their own custom adaptations and integrations into the platform. This paves the way for a truly comprehensive communication and technology environment, where companies can add new functionality to suit their needs. If your company is one of the many businesses using multiple digital tools at once in today’s landscape, make sure your UCaaS vendor can help you consolidate your IT landscape.
7. Higher Security Demands
Security and privacy requirements have always been a critical concern for buyers shopping for the ideal UCaaS solution. Companies need to keep their communications secure and protected from any risk of a data breach. However, as we move into a more remote environment, where employees are connecting to business assets from the cloud, security demands are higher than ever.
Brands are now under increased pressure to ensure that their remote staff members are just as well-protected as the people in the office. Any connection to the cloud comes with security risks to consider. This is even true when you’re hosting video conferencing sessions and collaborating with team members online. Many businesses discovered the security risks in poorly planned collaboration sessions during the 2020 pandemic.
As we move into the post-pandemic era, companies will need to rethink their security strategy once again, and make sure they have the right tools in place to protect their employees, their business, and their customer. We’ll see a growing investment in end-to-end encryption options, as well as a higher focus on data integrity and security. Companies with specific needs for data sovereignty will also need to look for UCaaS providers capable of storing data in the right locations.
8. Better Customer Service
Investing in the right UCaaS solution, equipped with crucial tools for communication and collaboration, flexible integration options, and excellent security, will be crucial for all brands. Companies will need to think about the kind of technology their UCaaS vendors can offer, from SIP trunking technology to CCaaS integrations.
Plus, there’ll be a rising demand for excellent customer service, with zero-touch provisioning and maintenance. Engineers and professionals from the UCaaS landscape won’t be in a position to go out to all of your employees’ houses every time a communication update is necessary. Zero-touch provisioning and remote management tools will be essential to allowing IT teams and business leaders to roll out patches, updates, and more, from any environment.
The right customer service solution will include portals where companies can easily onboard new team members whenever they choose, look through potential services, and even implement extra features. At the same time, UCaaS vendors should always be on hand to offer guidance when it comes to consolidating elements of the communication environment, improving budget use, and more.
Embracing UCaaS for Life After the Pandemic
Remote working wasn’t just a trend for the pandemic; it’s something that all companies are now investing more heavily in. Whether you choose to embrace a fully remote workforce to cut costs on real-estate and office overheads, or you prefer to go hybrid, you’ll need at least some strategy in place for the flexible workforce.
UCaaS is the first investment that companies need to make as they make the transition to this new world of work. With the right UCaaS service, business leaders everywhere can take full advantage of a remote, or hybrid workforce. UCaaS solutions are built specifically for flexibility and scalability. All you need to do, is find the right vendor to help you take the next step.