The Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market is experiencing robust adoption by SMB, enterprise and the public sector. By 2020, UCaaS is expected to reach 41% market penetration, and by 2024, the market is expected to reach USD 143.49 billion. To stay competitive, UCaaS companies will need to invest in technologies that empower remote workforces, focus on integration, and appeal to incoming millennial workers. Global industry leaders Jive Communications, inContact, and Polycom weighed in on market trends and shared their predictions for the future of UCaaS.
Enterprises of all sizes will increase usage of remote employees due to cost-efficiencies and better mobile communication and collaboration tools. However, not all situations will warrant the use of a remote workforce, so companies will be purposeful when they select this option. Advancement of UCaaS and other mobile collaboration tools will make remote workers more productive, and thus more viable economically.
The mobile workforce may have the biggest impact on the UCaaS market, pressuring providers to improve applications and user interfaces that perfectly suit the mobile worker. Technologies on the market today allow an employee to enter the office and instantly transfer a call from mobile to a high-quality desktop phone. We’re seeing this in the video space as well—the transferring of a mobile video call to a room system with just a simple swipe. Bottom line: You have to make the technology easy to use and intuitive. If you do that while feeding the needs of the mobile workforce, you’ll have an opportunity to really impact the marketplace.
With mobile smartphones, consumers now have additional channels for interaction with companies beyond voice. Smartphones are driving the usage of email and SMS/text. Savvy companies will recognize and support consumers’ demand for an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel experiences combine two or more channels related to a customer interaction. They allow the customer to switch between channels or to receive follow-up information via text after a voice call.
There will be pressure on the UCaaS market to consolidate because scale is a major cost factor both on the operations and customer acquisition fronts. Telecom is an acquisitive space in general, and larger players are scrambling to get their piece of the cloud-based market.
We anticipate tremendous innovation by all participants that are fortunate enough to be competing in this fast-growing space. There will also be tremendous partnering opportunities to provide enhancements sooner versus later to meet the demands of the market.
The “Death of the Desktop Phone” battle cry will once again rear its familiar head. This shouldn’t be a newsflash at this point, but the desk phone will live on past 2017. There is a significant amount of DNA in the enterprise that will prevent the complete removal of desk phones for at least another decade, and will likely prevent their demise indefinitely. Industry analysts have consistently failed to recognize the underlying value of being able to reach a co-worker, vendor, or client in their office. Desktop handset sales growth may begin to slow, however, as mobile applications and remote workforces become more prominent.
If you look at the trends from five years ago, people assumed desktop phones would be going away, but growth has increased more than 20 percent year over year. People use certain applications on mobile phones, and other applications on business phones (customization and productivity apps). We anticipate more integration between desktop phones, PC applications, and mobile. Phones will become pivot points for all UCaaS functionality as users gain the ability to launch applications directly from their phones.
Customers will value tighter integrations with existing systems and simplicity with their preferred UCaaS offerings. UCaaS operators will continue to add important integrations and features into their platforms, and start to break down traditional communication technologies with a cloud (software)-first mentality. Innovative thinking will allow UCaaS vendors to produce applications that don’t look anything like what customers are used to, but will ultimately be more productive and natural to use.
Companies that offer UCaaS solutions are investing time and development dollars into the integration of popular Office Apps and Groupware into their UC offerings. There is also a need to improve on common business applications—such as collaboration on conference calls—to seamlessly have an employee enter a conference room and, with “one-click,” to join a high-quality audio call, and immediately begin sharing information.
Consumers expect to interact with their preferred brands on their own terms—in the channels that they prefer, 24/7 and with highly personalized and even instantaneous responses. To succeed in this environment, companies must improve the efficiency of communications for all of their employees from the front line to the back office. This is only possible with Unified Communications tools that support multiple channels in a single, integrated, and easy-to-use environment. A complete customer interaction solution complements UCaaS technology for front-line employees in the contact center. With omni-channel routing, you can seamlessly connect customers to the right agent across any channel, which can increase customer satisfaction with higher first contact resolution rates.
Millennials appreciate variation, change and growth in their positions. They don’t generally enjoy performing the same narrow set of tasks day after day. Communication tools will need to support their desire for innovation and efficiency. This will be especially applicable to Contact Centers. The days of “I’m a contact center agent, I clock in, log in, and start taking calls” are rapidly disappearing.
Millennials are having a profound impact on communications technology, and that will continue in the future workplace. The tech-savvy generation is entering the workforce with raised expectations on the technology they use. They want the same experience in the workplace as in their personal use. And this impact will be felt by all providers. Having grown up leveraging mobility and SaaS technologies, their frustration with non-user friendly technologies will be felt. This is an undertaking but also an opportunity. Polycom’s Service Provider partners have the opportunity to develop leading edge applications that will provide “easy-to-use” technologies that meet and exceed millennials’ expectations.
Young adults are popular recruits for customer service jobs given their energy, enthusiasm, and empathy. Millennials have unique traits and characteristics that previous generations did not, which means that companies need to leverage different techniques for hiring and managing them. First, make sure that your company’s social presence is up to date so you can attract job seekers in this age group. Next, Millennials value companies that focus on people and purpose more than profits. They are looking for opportunities to work with accomplished peers and have managers that are approachable and good listeners. Millennials need and expect consistent, quality feedback at least once a month. Having Millennials in key positions can help you attract and retain younger and like-minded customers. Plus they will be gaining strong career experiences to help them understand what it takes to stay competitive in today’s consumer-driven economy.