7 Key Trends for UCaaS in 2019
For years, most companies used a plain old telephone service (POTS) to make their calls using the public switched telephone network (PSTN), while inside the office, legacy private branch exchanges (PBXes) connected employees via thousands of extensions, each wired individually to a single-line telephone set.
Then the internet came along and provided a second global network optimized for digital data. With that transformation, many providers emerged – offering phone service via Voice-over-IP (VoIP). Many businesses embraced the new technology, not only because it offered significant cost savings, but also because, being digital, VoIP opened the door to a wide range of capabilities that were impossible on legacy analog services.
Today, many providers are leveraging VoIP’s flexibility to not only develop new software-based features, but also integrate voice with other digital communication channels, including text, video conferencing, meeting collaboration, and more. That evolution has given rise to a new name – Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS).
As the name implies, UCaaS platforms work to integrate multiple communication channels into a single platform and interface, allowing users to switch between them seamlessly, while also accessing new capabilities. UCaaS’ multimodal services appeal to companies that have a variety of communications needs, not just voice.
Adoption of UCaaS among small to midsize business (SMBs) will double by the close of 2021, according to business-to-business (B2B) research firm MarketsandMarkets. Factors affecting adoption include increased use of UC on mobile, a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) with UCaaS, and demand for services that are customer-centric, according to Rohit Singh, a Senior Research Analyst at MarketsandMarkets.
“With UC, the whole idea is, you have one platform, one interface, on your screen to manage all of your communications activity,” said Jon Arnold, UCaaS expert and Principal of J Arnold & Associates. “All your communications flow seamlessly from mode to mode.”
Moving forward, UCaaS will see a continued evolution of advanced features like sentiment analysis, along with further adoption of automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and voice assistant technology.
Here are seven UCaaS trends to watch in 2019.
1. UCaaS Will Incorporate Sentiment Analysis
Experts say that UCaaS will incorporate more artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in 2019. At the heart of these AI features will be analytics – giving companies new and more robust data sets.
AI also brings a capability called “sentiment analysis,” which involves data mining to determine opinions in speech or written text. AI can also help SMBs search spoken communications such as podcasts for references to a particular company.
2. AI Will Bring Sales Coaching
Based on the content of a video conference, AI tools are becoming more competent at offering both post-call and real-time coaching. Moreover, this will be a technology not just available for large organizations. For smaller organizations, having products that have some built-in sales coaching where calls are listened to in real time and feedback is given will prove to be a valuable asset.
3. Smarter Transcription Will Create New Opportunities
AI and machine learning (ML) will also lead to smarter call transcription; Smarter speech-to-text capabilities will let companies automatically follow up on items mentioned in the calls.
What this means for UCaaS is the ability to offer new solutions like transcribing conference calls, identifying action items, and sending out recaps to relevant stakeholders.
The ability to use these virtual solutions for tasks like transcription, which previously required human engagement, will speed up the process. Also, as the solutions are used more, and therefore learn more, we would expect accuracy also to improve.
4. 4K Video
Some UCaaS providers are embracing 4K. Higher definition video will provide SMBs with a “future-proof solution” for everyday tasks such as promoting products, closing sales, and conducting video conferences to recruit new employees.
Even small businesses now operate primarily outside the confines of their office building, and by providing a more life-like visual experience with 4K, SMBs stand to reap dramatic benefits both for internal staff and in the image they present to the public.
5. 5G and the Democratization of Communications
With the emergence of 4.5G and 5G networks, SMBs will have more choice in whether they want to go with a 5G network as their primary internet service versus a cable provider. Companies will have a wireless option for phone lines that are similar to what you can get over a wire at speeds higher than 100 megabits per second (Mbps).
There will be a significant shift around internet connectivity from the wireless carriers deploying 4.5G or 5G connectivity, where suddenly this can become primary internet connectivity for a business – leading to more competition among companies offering internet services. The 5G networks will also lead to better call quality and increased reliability.
6. Addressing Data Compliance Differently
As industries such as health care use UCaaS for remote patient visits as part of the growing trend of telehealth, companies will need to keep regulation compliance in mind. This may be regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in health care or Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
AI will be able to help companies maintain compliance during calls by detecting “magic words” or topics that shouldn’t be discussed, while also detecting these problems based on the tone of voice or spotting words such as “lawsuit”, which could immediately flag the call to be able to be seen by a supervisor.
7. Tackling Identity Fraud Concerns
As connectivity between multiple data sources increases, SMB’s will need to be cognizant of potential identity fraud and data breaches. While there are many subscription services companies can use to protect against these threats, they should also consider which UCaaS providers can offer encrypted voice features for additional protection.
With the UCaaS marketplace leveraging a very secure cloud, many providers can typically offer a more reliable solution than what most SMBs can deliver on their own.
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