It’s the end of the year, so it’s time to turn back the clock to Jive’s 2017 UCaaS technology predictions. Jive joined with UCaaS technology leaders inContact and Polycom to forecast how the industry would change during 2017.
How did it shake out? You can judge for yourself how well we did. Here’s a quick recap of our predictions and what happened in 2017.
We were pretty spot-on here. We said: “Enterprises of all sizes will increase usage of remote employees due to cost-efficiencies and better mobile communication and collaboration tools.” A Gallup survey found that 43 percent of employed Americans spend some of their time working remotely. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of workers who worked remotely four to five days a week grew from 24 percent to 31 percent.
More people are working remotely than ever, and the trends indicate that number will continue to rise. Over fifty percent of U.S. employees have jobs that are telecommute-compatible. Along with that, acceptance of remote work has risen, as well as employers’ willingness to embrace flexible work solutions.
Along with remote work, however, come a host of challenges for employers. Remote workforces need access to office communications and software tools on their personal devices. This BYOD (bring your own device) trend has required the adoption and expansion of mobile-friendly applications. At the start of 2017, North American adoption rates of BYOD sat at 36 percent. Current projections place it at 50 percent by the end of this year.
Personal devices accessing sensitive company data means that employers will look for security solutions. But the upside is that the average worker saves 81 minutes a week in productivity when they can use their personal devices for work. It’s almost a given among surveyed workers (98 percent agree) that working anywhere has a positive impact on productivity.
It’s almost scary how right we were on this count. Here’s what we said at the beginning of the year: “There will be pressure on the UCaaS market to consolidate . . . . Telecom is an acquisitive space in general, and larger players are scrambling to get their piece of the cloud-based market.”
In 2017, we saw several major acquisitions that changed the UCaaS landscape. The Mitel acquisition of Shoretel was one such development. During the summer, Mitel made an offer of $430 million. This was Mitel’s second attempt to acquire Shoretel—and unfortunately this time around the offer was $140 million less.
Later in the year, Cisco topped this news when it announced its planned $2 billion acquisition of BroadSoft. What did these two major acquisitions have in common? Both purchasing companies lacked a compelling cloud-based solution. The fact that two large players in the telecom field invested heavy capital into acquiring cloud offerings is significant. It’s a weather vane to the rest of the industry, pointing the way the marketplace is headed: cloud communications.
Experts have predicted the demise of the office desk phone for several years now. So it comes as no surprise that 2017 was no different. We said: “Industry analysts have consistently failed to recognize the underlying value of being able to reach a co-worker, vendor, or client in their office.”
So here it is, the end of 2017, and chances are, if you work in an office, your desk has a phone on it. That’s the case for 83 percent of workers. To be fair, only 54 percent of those workers may use those phones on a regular basis. But the convenience and privacy of a business number will keep those phones around for years to come.
We predicted 2017 would see a greater push for UCaaS platforms that integrate with other critical business applications. Here’s what we said: “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.”
Enterprises are certainly investing in software tools to boost productivity. The last few years have seen 30 percent of all application spending targeting software-based applications. Customer relationship management (CRM) software saw an increase in overall usage during 2017 (from 56 to 74 percent). And more than half of (62 percent) of all CRMs are delivered using the Cloud. This reflects an industry-wide push toward the Cloud, in part to avoid multi-vendor integration issues. Frost & Sullivan found that 63 percent of companies are moving or planning to move some or all of their IT workloads to the Cloud.
Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce in 2015. They vastly outnumber the Baby Boomer generation by almost 20 million. In 2025, they’ll dominate the workforce. Here’s what we predicted: “[Millennials] 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.”
Many of the predictions above are driven by millennial preferences. They prefer flexible work schedules and the freedom to work remotely. So much so that they would trade higher wages for workplace flexibility perks. The majority of millennials (68 percent) said remote working options makes them far more interested in a specific employer. Millennials also expect companies to provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs right. That usually translates to easy communications and collaboration both inside and outside the office.
The pressures on the UCaaS market are constantly shifting, but the underlying drivers remain fairly constant. In 2018, expect continued moves to accommodate remote workers and millennials, consolidation among telecom providers, and platform integration. Check out our other articles on UCaaS and small business predictions for 2017 and 2018.