2020 has been one heck of a year. We all expected something big to come with the arrival of a new decade, but no-one could have predicted just how transformational this year would be. Though it’s impossible to overstate the grief and stress that 2020 and the global pandemic has caused, it’s important to look at the areas of growth that have emerged during the last 12 months.
This year, video become the new must-have mode for communication in a world where employees could no longer interact face to face. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and similar tools transformed the workplace for digital employees, and around 88% of companies asked their employees to begin working from home.
The work-anywhere landscape became the norm for most organisations, and companies even began to experiment more with artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, and even extended reality. For most of us, 2020 has been a catalyst for change and innovation. However, this transformation comes with its fair share of challenges.
2020 was the year that we discovered what unified communications was all about. In an environment where we all had to adapt to new ways of working, communication and collaboration took on a new identity, and technology needed to be more aligned and unified than ever. A lack of proper unity would mean disaster in today’s remote landscape.
While the truth of UC has been creeping in on the sidelines for a number of years, in 2020, it hit us like a tsunami, washing away old technology, sinking legacy platforms, and crippling many companies in its path. For those capable of shifting the cloud, the wave was an opportunity to breach new shores much faster than they expected. Elsewhere, companies cemented into on-premises environments were left struggling to keep their heads above water.
The business landscape has been talking about the potential of digital transformation and the virtual workspace for years now – a whole decade in some cases. Yet, this was the year when the concept of UCaaS as the essential core of the workplace officially arrived, pulling team collaboration functionality in tow.
Finally, we’ve reached the shore of an environment that many companies have been dreaming of for years. This new landscape, dedicated to remote and anywhere workers, eliminates the need for complicated legacy equipment and expensive investments by placing teams in the cloud. Many of us began working from home almost immediately when the pandemic hit, but that’s only the beginning.
Countless companies agree that the future of work will be hybrid, or remote to some extent. Around 74% of CFOs plan on moving their on-site team members to remote schedules. This era of remote working won’t just open the door to home working solutions, but the possibility to work anywhere. The age of the anywhere worker will facilitate true productivity and efficiency on any device, for anyone, in any space.
Although the transformative effect of 2020 has arrived as a significant shock for many companies, still unprepared to make the full shift into the cloud, it’s where we’ve been headed for some time. A future of complete connectivity and flexibility is the promise that Unified Communications has made from day one. We’re finally beginning to see what the benefits of being connected anywhere, and everywhere can look like, and UC is earning the understanding it needs.
We’re learning, on a massive scale, that the future of work in the current environment needs to be flexible. We need our businesses to be as agile and adaptable as possible so that they can come with the unexpected events that come our way. The Unified Communications landscape on the cloud is the perfect partner for that flexible business model.
Like many aspects of the technology landscape in recent years, the Unified Communications market is evolving fast. This is something we’ve been aware of for a while now, as new entrants shake up the status quo, and consolidation and disruption appear from every angle. However, in 2020, UC also got the boost it needed to demonstrate it’s true value on a massive scale.
Companies are recognising that UC solutions aren’t just an option – they’re an essential part of the future of work. We can definitely expect to see more UC solutions baked into the central applications that companies use going forward. These applications could even include tools that didn’t align themselves as collaboration or communication tools before.
There’s a huge opportunity here for transformation. IT and communications providers can finally begin to work together on a more significant level to help organisations on their disruptive journeys.
I’ll be talking more on this topic at our annual conference and expo UC Summit 2021 in January, register for the event here – it’s free to join.