This article originally appeared in Network Computing.
Today’s mobile workforce is driving the emergence of cloud-based communications solutions that facilitate better collaboration, no matter where the user is located. Employees are no longer clocking in and out at the end of the day, teams don’t hold regular in-person meetings and waiting by a phone for a business call is a thing of the past. Whether enabled by instant messaging, video/audio conferencing tools or team collaboration applications–enterprise communication is becoming easier and more productive than ever before. Enabled by the cloud, businesses are entering an era where being connected 24/7/365 is a tangible option.
UCaaS demand to grow, but desk phones will still matter
The new year will see an appetite for unified communications solutions grow as customer expectations increase in today’s “always available from anywhere” business environment.
That said, traditional modes of communication–i.e., desk phones–are still relevant, so don’t write them off yet. Despite the hunger for collaborative and innovative cloud solutions, the death of this technology is still far off. This can be attributed to adaptation – the main barrier to technology adoption in general. The faster an industry moves, the more difficult it can be for users to let go of the products they have become accustomed to using for years. For many employees, the desk phone has become a staple in the office. The question of when exactly will the desk phone disappear? That remains to be seen.
While great gains are being made toward cloud adoption, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) technology is not quite well-known enough for large-scale, consumer-like usage. Smaller businesses and start-ups are more open to public cloud adoption. So, it may take some time, but the cloud will begin to overtake on-premise business solutions as smaller companies/start-ups grow, and larger companies employ leadership who are equipped with a more naturally mobile mindset.
Retail sector will benefit the most
Not everyone is slow to adopt a more collaborative approach to their organization’s communications. The cloud is also enabling a dramatic shift toward integrating with customer business workflows for more seamless connections, and retail is one sector that will experience a large spike in unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technology adoption next year. Given its proximity to consumers both in the physical world and online, retail has continuously been ripe for innovation.
This past year, we saw the retail industry further marry these worlds as physical retail tries to remain competitive. Even in this evolution though, one constant remains the same as in-store employees are rarely sitting within reach of a desk phone. This is a stark contrast to other sectors like professional services, where most employees reside together in an office, sitting in front of a computer, next to a phone and only steps away from the nearest meeting space. Combine that with the fact that larger retailers have staff in stores all over the world and the need for UCC technology grows ten-fold.
Improvements will, in turn, lead to better customer experiences, whether consumers are visiting brick-and-mortar stores or shopping online, and will offer retailers the unique ability to successfully complete their complete digital transformations.
A collaborative year ahead
2019 will see continued growth for cloud and unified communications. Desk phones aren’t going anywhere for the time being. And retail is the most well-positioned to adopt UCC technologies.