With hybrid working looking like it’s here to stay, the transformation of the workplace has meant more businesses relying on both new and existing technology to keep their employees connected, engaged, and motivated. Unified communications platforms have become integral to most employees’ day to day lives as they work from disparate home offices. Unified communications platforms are continuing to evolve and develop their services to support all types of businesses.
Steve Rafferty, RingCentral Country Manager, UK, and Ireland believes that 2022 will be an exciting year for this sector, with further innovations across AI, voice, and advanced security features:
The integration of AI and IA
With many of us spending long hours at our computers each day, 2022 will see more UC providers incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into their platforms this year to streamline operations and to better support staff. AI already has the capability to take notes during meetings, provide lists of actions, meeting summaries and minutes. AI will also increasingly be used to help with the live transcription of video calls and enhance the capabilities of screen-readers to better improve the accessibility of UC platforms.
But on top of this, what we’ll also see is AI flipping over to IA - intelligence automation. Where AI was man vs machine, IA focuses on making the computer as smart as the human.
The growing use of voice
Voice will also become more and more integrated into UC platforms and collaboration suites this year, as we look to verbal interaction for connection with our peers, moving beyond the keyboard. During the pandemic, our research found that a growing number of remote workers felt lonely and isolated, and at RingCentral, we see voice interaction as an effective remedy to this, with 4 out of 5 (78%) colleagues who use voice communications saying that they feel more connected to each other.
And it’s not just to help employees work better together. So many of our customers say that when working with their customers, it’s not the message or email that they appreciate, but the verbal conversations that they have with staff. AI can also help supercharge voice here; by using AI to learn as much as you can about the customer and then presenting the agent with the right information you can immediately have a productive conversation where both the customer and the employee are much more likely to leave on a positive note.
More remote contact centre solutions
During the initial lockdowns, the UK saw an increase in the number of remote contact centres that continued to serve customers despite changing government regulations.
As remote contact centres proved successful, unified communications platforms will continue to innovate to support businesses that have customers across the country. Whether this includes more advanced skills-based routing to help the customer meet the right agent quickly, or further automation to allow customers more options to self-serve, remote contact centres will be more popular this year than ever before.
As more banks, government bodies and institutions that handle sensitive data have encouraged staff to work from home during the pandemic, some IT departments have struggled to find effective unified communications platforms that meet industry standards of privacy and security. To counter this, more unified communications platforms are introducing advanced encryption and enhanced security features to ensure that their collaboration suites meet stringent security requirements.
With more companies using collaboration tools such as video and messaging, we are seeing more and more IP tied up in digital platforms, which means IT teams protecting these platforms becomes increasingly urgent. Security will be at the very heart of much of the innovation we will see in the unified communications space this year, particularly as regulated institutions look to update solutions that may have been hastily adopted in 2020 to fit the new normal of the hybrid workplace.
As the pandemic continues to impact our working lives, collaboration suites and UC platforms will continue to play an important role in how and where we work. As countries around the world prepare for tighter restrictions amid the spread of new COVID variants, UC providers are continuing to enhance and develop the features businesses need and innovate to better serve their users. While 2021 may have been a landmark year for the power of UC platforms to connect workers, 2022 will see us double down on innovation to supercharge the hybrid workplace of the future.