Unified Communications: Trends in 2017

Today’s workplace is constantly transforming, and now more than ever there’s a need for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to offer collaborative solutions that provide substantial and consistent value and seamless communications for employees and customers. Unified communications solutions are becoming more relevant as the remote workforce increases and offices begin to collaborate on a global level. Here are a few trends we expect to see as we look ahead to 2017.

1. Why is it important that a UC application be completely integrated?
In theory, unified communications platforms grant businesses access to a myriad of integrated features and applications from a single platform. Despite the name, most unified communications platforms on the market today are anything but unified, and it’s important to continue the effort to consolidate UC features onto a simplified, easy-to-use system. Expectations for collaborative tools like video conference calls, chats, real-time presence, and WebRTC are among the many features businesses should expect from their UC system. Bodden articulates that, “unified communications technology not only helps customers stay seamlessly connected with employees and customers across multiple geographies but also allows for greater collaboration,” making integration an essential part of that collaborative process.

2. Will instant messaging really replace email as the main source of office communication?
Email has been the primary source of communication for most companies and it isn’t going anywhere. However, SMBs are realizing there is a better option. Email still has its usefulness when it comes to outbound messages, but today most SMBs have turned to instant messaging for rapid internal responses and real time team collaboration. No matter the preference of the individual business, IM is another way to, “create true efficiencies and improve collaborations in the workplace,” said Bodden.

3. How does the Cloud integrate with UC systems and what are the benefits?
Cloud-based unified communications platforms are growing in popularity with SMBs that want the ease of customization, and cost-effectiveness that a third party hosting service provides. Software based applications simplify overall management due to seamless upgrades and customizations with little or no disruption to users. Cloud-based systems also offer better assimilation of multiple applications, helping to develop a highly integrated UC system. For all these reasons, integrating the Cloud helps make unified communications even more connected.

4. With a growing mobile workforce, how important are remote communication tools in UC systems?
At the center of UC trends is the need for remote collaboration. “We will see continued growth in “anytime-anywhere” connectivity and related capabilities,” says Bodden. “For example, with UC Pro, one can easily conduct audio/video chat for efficient and collaborative work meetings, or share their desktop, location and availability with colleagues so they never have to miss a meeting or call.” The virtual workforce is growing, and features like video conference calls and document sharing will become increasingly important tools to SMBs with a traveling or work-from-anywhere workforce. A reliable UC system helps users stay connected and enables continuous connectivity to customers and employees globally.

A truly unified communications strategy creates a cooperative work environment that provides real and consistent value to SMBs. From video conference calls and instant messaging to integrated calendars and real-time presence updates, these UC features meet the needs of SMBs and an increasingly mobile and dynamic workplace. Bodden suggests that as SMBs continue to grow and mobility requirements change, communications tools must “continue to evolve to support the growing demand for productivity as a competitive differentiator, and it only makes sense that UC systems will continue to evolve to not only keep up, but help enable these important business requirements.”

For more information about Panasonic’s Unified Communications solutions for your business, please visit http://business.panasonic.com/unified-communications/unified-communication-solutions.html