During 1960s, the “Star Trek” series was a pioneer in introducing futuristic communications. Remember Captain Kirk talking over video with his friends and foes? It has taken more than 30 years for fiction to become reality (first Industrial tele presence solution in early 1990s). However, with advent of new tech, the rate at which fictional tech is fast becoming reality is astonishing!!!
The workplace is an area which is subjected to such accelerated change. Increasing addition of millennials to the workforce whose communication choices are more flexible, and mobile (light and on the go application needs) are contributing to this change. In this rapid transformation of the workplace, organizations need a unified communication strategy which can lower their costs, deliver anywhere, as well as plug the gap between employees, their choices and increase collaboration & productivity.
UCaaS (Unified Communications as a service) is a perfect fit for organizations of all sizes, as it helps organizations avoid the hassle of owing and maintaining bulky IT infrastructure, thereby enabling businesses to scale quickly, and remain agile with low TCO. With UCaaS, all communication functions such as voice and telephony, meeting solutions, messaging, presence and instant messaging are clubbed together in a single package and delivered over the cloud on a pay-as-you-go model.
UCaaS is suitable for the current & future trends we are seeing in the market
|Rising trend of BYOD(According to Cisco,69%of IT decision-makers favor BYOD as a positive addiction to their workplace policy)||UCaaS promises to bring accountability & transparency by adopting managed mobility services & security policies.|
|CXO's switching from CapEx to OpEx models||UCaaS enables organizations to move to operating model as it is delivered over cloud and avoid hard costs of owing & maintaining infrastructure|
|Distributed organizations need to work with different service providers according to location(AT&T in US;Telefonica in Spain,BT in UK,Orange in France etc)||UCaaS will enable seamless transaction with tight integration,multi-vendor support & multi device interoperability|
|Telecommuting policies being adopted by organizations(2/3rd people work away from office atleast once a week,IWG Survey)||UCaaS provides all the infrastructure needs for employee to connect to their peers & collaborate with them over their own networks but governed by organization policies.|
|Adoption of Consumer Tech like virtual assistants,AR/VR for organization needs||Voice assistants in UCaaS are being explored.E.g. retreive documents,capture MoM,Alexa for business,to control your Cisco Telepresence systems and join meetings by using your voice|
|As Business communication goes beyond voice,Business Texting and video has emerged as a strong way of communication||UCaaS deliver an Omni-channel & multigenerational solution|
Going forward we can see UCaaS tools becoming the virtual workplace. With technologies like VR/AR/5G gaining popularity among consumers its entry into enterprise UC applications is just a small step. With changing workforce attitudes towards telecommuting & communication channels other than voice; UCaaS becomes a key core strategy for any enterprise.
Getting it right will be the Key
To deliver differentiated & compelling UCaaS, Telcos/CSPs must focus on the following key aspects:
- Integration of AI in UC: AI & ML are already being used in Unified Communications to improve employee productivity – by assisting in storing data, prioritizing communication & delivering a personalized experience for each communication thread.
One of the most successful use-case of adoption of AI with UC applications is in borderless support centers - where SMEs can resolve queries from anywhere, through any device, anytime. Many enterprises are using AI to automate repeatable tasks through Interactive voice response (IVRs).
- Leveraging 5G for UC: Key benefits of 5G includes extremely-reliable, low latency & very fast communication networks. For Telcos to completely take advantage of this business opportunity, they will need to focus on cloud-based technologies like Network function virtualization (NFV) – to make their networks self-healing & meet demand spikes, while maintaining their operational efficiency and Edge Computing – to facilitate high data processing rates with lower latency
- Automation & integration with ecosystem: With tends like BYOD, and availability of multiple platforms of communication, UC should enable seamless switching between them. UC tools can be integrated with support centers, ticket management centers, other 3rd party tools etc. to improve collaboration. UC applications can be automated to resolve any issues in real-time by relying on context-based cues, without any human intervention.
- Getting ready for Cloud Native: As adoption of cloud & software-defined-X grows, it is important to have network designs that are cloud-native, not just cloud ready. By combining cloud-native virtualization functions like Network function virtualization (NFV) – CSPs can achieve vast scale at extremely low costs, which would lead to quicker service launches & better fault isolation.
Cloud-native set of microservices ensure higher network resilience, lower down-time with lesser infrastructure redundancy.
- Microservices-based software architecture: Instead of traditional, monolithic software architectures, Microservices-based-software architectures, which are usually based on Agile and DevOps methodologies, enable orchestration of small, independent processes for development of highly reusable applications – with much quicker introduction & scale-ups.
Hence, companies can undergo quick, smooth and cost-eﬀective IT revamp and maintenance.
In getting these transitions right, Engineering service provider’s unique expertise and experience has become more and more valuable. For instance, HCL with 20+ years of experience in Unified communication product engineering, has undertaken complete product engineering ownership of core Unified communication applications portfolio, including new releases and field support. With such an extensive end-to-end expertise and deep investments in internal communication labs & emerging technologies – engineering service providers that understand the nuances of the ecosystem can help business build & execute their Unified communication strategy at an accelerated pace with lower investments
What future holds
Remember Eden Hazzard’s live interview on Belgium TV, from a studio in Russia using “Hologram technology” during FIFA world cup? It will not be so long for us to realize these technologies in our UCaaS tools. Most (if not all) meetings, which often take more time to commute than their actual duration, can soon be done over a Unified communication system without compromising on personalized experiences.
It might have taken a century for us to realize the Sci-Fi tech of 19th century, but the Sci-Fi tech of 20th century will be realized in the same century - may be within a decade. We’re now at a pace where reality might even outdo fiction!