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Three Unified Communications and Collaboration Trends to Watch for in 2020

Dec 18, 2019

Look around yourself and count how many devices you have for the purpose of communicating. The first thing you spot is probably your desk phone which then reminds you of your mobile phone, and both probably feature voicemail. Think you’re done?

If there isn’t a desktop computer on your desk, there’s probably a laptop in your bag, and a tablet. These communicate as well, through texting, email, voice over IP audio, video, and the office applications that enable you to write, produce presentations, and create other collateral for the purpose of communicating.

Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS)

It makes incredible sense to provide unified communication services from the cloud instead of on-premise. This removes complexity from the user and puts it into the hands of professional IT providers. Users simply use the services without concern as to how they’re connected.

Cloud UCaaS provides immediate value to larger customers as the channel of choice for intra-company communications. Every call or fax sent between different locations of the same company is transmitted over the internet rather than a dial-up call across the public switched telephone network (PSTN) which incurs charges. All those charges are completely and instantly eliminated. Big savings.

Another expense that is reduced and slowly moving toward elimination is travel. Formerly, people had to fly to a common venue to gather in a conference with each other. Since all participants simply connect from their UCaaS-connected devices nobody spends days and dollars in transport. Huge savings.

Another powerful integration into UCaaS is customer relationship management (CRM). All calls, emails, and other communications with customers and prospects are tracked and reminders set for next contact, making employees the kings and queens of follow-up. Inestimable savings.

What’s Next in 2020?

The attention from vendors including Cisco, Mitel, Apple, and others indicates that they see UCaaS experiencing rapid growth in the short term. Microsoft’s global channel chief has even declared their new universal platform, Teams, to be “the new operating system.”

In 2020 you can expect to see the popularity of UCaaS accelerate in several ways:

Radically Increased Adoption

UCaaS has made the transition from traditional phone services amazingly easier. Rather than considering a substantial investment in servers, interfaces, storage, and more, companies can “test the waters” by having just a few users sign up for a commercial UCaaS account using their existing mobile device. They can experiment with the various services and return an evaluation of whether a given service provides everything the company needs. Many of these pilot projects are available at no charge. A radical departure from the way we’ve purchased PBX and similar services in the past.

We’ve already seen an accelerating increase in the number of companies making the transition to UCaaS as a result. Anticipate in 2020 that the rate of adoption will increase even more. Much more.

The Eventual Demise of PSTN

For a long time now, CIOs have been wondering why they need to incur the expense of managing and maintaining two networks, one for data (internet protocol or IP) and another for voice (PSTN), when both can be transported using IP on one network.

The Federal Communications Commission agrees and has recently been encouraging carriers to phase out PSTN services. Carriers are responding enthusiastically, further encouraging the convergence of data and voice. Similar activities are occurring in Europe and across the world.

A wholly digital global communications system increases the volume and granularity of usage data available to management, making it readily available at any time. Chargebacks and other critical telecom expense management functions have never been easier to track and control.

Impact of the Arrival of 5G Technology

Ever since the introduction of cellular phone and data communications we have lived in an oddly hybrid environment combining telephone landlines, cabled internet access extended by wi-fi wireless services in-house, mobile phone and data via 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE wireless services across the wide area.

The issue has always been speed. How fast can these devices communicate with each other. The purpose of wi-fi was to deliver more rapid access when employees are in a properly equipped facility. There have even been “wi-max” experiments to deploy wi-fi across entire municipalities.

5G has the potential to change that. Because it is so fast, so reliable, and so self-correcting many predict that it will replace wi-fi and other physical connections. Since the connection is persistent users enjoy the same experience wherever they may be, creating a new-found “placelessness.”

Billing will also be simplified as it is composed of a simple subscription fee for each user. Companies will be able to interrogate far more utilization data than ever before, making expense management more effective.

The Cloud Challenge Remains

Adoption of cloud computing, a primary building-block of any digital transformation, has always been hindered by the simple fact that few companies have personnel with the skills and experience to evaluate and select various cloud services, integrate them, enable users, then support and manage all of it.

Many clients depend upon MDSL to provide these capabilities. From the initial planning and ROI analysis regarding the decision to transition to UCaaS, to comparing and contrasting various carriers, vendors, and other service providers, to negotiating service fees (many users never discussed and currently know what they’re paying…) and managing the provisioning, deployment, and ongoing management of services, look to MDSL to be your single-source provider.