We reached out to 12 industry leaders to get their opinion on what the future holds in 2021
It would be fair to say that it’s been a challenging year for almost everyone globally, but thanks to the increase in digital transformation, many of us have been able to work from home. We’ve seen huge spikes in daily users across collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, which recently reported an astonishing 115 million daily active users. Physical events are now a distant memory for most, and virtual events could be here to stay. Almost anyone, wherever they are, can now attend an event they might have ultimately had to miss, and let’s not forget about the positive impact virtual events can have on the planet…
We’re now looking forward to what lies ahead in 2021 so we reached out to 12 industry leaders from all areas to get their take on what the future of communications may hold for us all.
We reached out to Sunny Dhami, Senior Director of Product Marketing & GTM at RingCentral.
Question: Unified Experience – How important is a unified app for the future of anywhere work in 2021?
Sunny said: “2020 has shone a light on how we communicate, collaborate and work. One of the key shifts we have seen in the market has been the demand for a more unified experience. As people spend more time messaging and on video calls having a unified experience has gained importance as has user experience. The ability to promote a message to a call and then further to a video call within a single application is a really nice experience which will be expected moving forward.”
We opened gift 2 and found our very own Rob Scott, Publisher at UC Today behind it.
Statement: Available from Anywhere – whoever you are. Frontline, deskless, UC is not just for knowledge workers
Rob expanded: “UC is for everyone. You don’t just need to be a homeworker in the new norm to enjoy the benefits of unified communications. Anywhere work will be synonymous with UC in 2021, knowledge workers will continue to embrace the full stack of features, whilst other personas in the business will take a more à la carte approach. Whatever your job role, on the front line, homeworker or back office, UC is an essential tool for productivity and success in the new era of the digital workplace.”
We opened gift 3 and found Devin Redmond, Co-founder & CEO at Theta Lake.
Question: Security – What will users want from vendors in 2021, when it comes to security and compliance on video collaboration platforms?
Devin said: “With more of our work involving information sharing and communications using video collaboration, companies and organizations will expect collaboration vendors to support more integration capabilities for best-of-breed security and compliance tools. The growing need to address data leakage, workplace abuse, security breaches, and compliance violations inside of meetings will become a top priority in the new collaboration-first workplace. These new risks manifest in what is shared, shown, spoken, and typed across heterogenous collaboration environments. Addressing these risks can only be done by applying the lessons of precedent of enabling seemless integration with purpose-built compliance and security tools.”
Tom Hadfield, CEO at Mio, is behind gift number 4.
Question: Channel Hopping – With the increase in appetite for team apps, is the need to collaborate between companies growing too – what will we see in 2021?
Tom answered: “2021 is the year for intercompany collaboration. Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of team collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack for internal communication. The big trend in 2021 will be using these same team collaboration apps for external communication with clients and vendors. As companies like Mio connect Microsoft Teams customers and Slack customers together, it will soon be just as easy to communicate with external contacts as it currently is to communicate with colleagues. With interoperability top-of-mind for enterprise customers, we are closer than we’ve ever been to a global, unified network for workplace communications.”
Behind gift number 5 is Mehmet Hussein, TDA at Voxbone.
Question: Borderless – The world is now an even smaller place now everyone is communicating online, how important is it to adopt a single cloud calling provider in 2021?
Mehmet responded with: “Moving into 2021, adopting an unbundled approach with a single cloud calling provider, ideally one with in-country links, will enable you to rapidly deploy into multiple markets. This relationship will prepare you to deal with the single largest blocker in expanding cloud coms – crossing international borders!
Moving into several countries will quickly be met with what seems to be a wall of regulations, differing country by country. A trusted, single, cloud calling provider should be able to help you navigate this by utilising their in-country expertise – allowing you to focus on the service you are delivering/consuming.”
Stuart Templeton, Head of Slack UK, is to be found in gift number 6.
Question: Collaborative – Will we see more collaboration platforms ‘collaborating’ on the road ahead?
Stuart said: “The sudden shift to remote work means additional pressure for teams to stay aligned, feel connected and get work done. Not only this, but companies also face the challenge of maintaining external communications with partners and stakeholders. Even though we have seen a steep rise in businesses adopting collaboration tools this year, a fully digital transformation cannot be siloed to one single organisation. Customers and partners must be part of this journey too. In 2021, businesses which implement Slack as their digital HQ for all work will reap the benefits of seamless and transparent alignment, both internally and externally.”
Behind gift box number 7 is Lyndsay Cook, SVP of Marketing at PGi.
Question: Virtual Meetings – One-to-one, one-to-many – from calling to broadcasting – How will the world of virtual meetings look in 2021?
Lyndsay commented: “Undoubtedly, 2021 will see a continuation of the trend we have seen in 2020 for virtual meetings and events for a growing range of use cases – team training, town halls, investor relations calls, sales kick-offs etc. High-quality Audio and Video is now expected by end-users, whilst the security of these virtual events and meetings, as we saw in 2020, will remain a top priority for organisations. With in-person events looking unlikely for the foreseeable future at least, the challenge for organisations will be to make the virtual event and meeting experience as rich, immersive and engaging as possible”
Ron Maayan, SVP, Product Management at Vonage, is behind gift box number 8.
Question: AI superpowers – How important is AI to the future of customer experience?
Ron responded with: “Great customer experience is achieved by meeting the customer’s expectations throughout your entire relationship with them. A business must engage with the customer to give them what they want, when they want it and how they want it. This is a lot to ask of businesses and people. AI can understand insights from omnichannel interactions, customer sentiment, and buying patterns – predicting and anticipating what the customer needs next. This means knowing when and what to present to the customer through the channels they prefer, and when they contact you, augment the human aspect of the relationship with intelligent answers and next best actions”
Andy Elliot, VP Marketing & Business Development, EMEA at Audiocodes, is behind gift number 9.
Question: Devices Matter – How important is it to get your working from home tech right in 2021?
Andy said:”Devices definitely matter. Get it right and home-workers will continue to be productive. Get it wrong and you have a recipe for frustration. The challenge is that everyone’s home working environment is different. Those lucky enough to have a home office can have the familiar experience of a deskphone, with high quality handsfree audio and joining conference calls with a single touch, leaving their laptop free for other tasks. For others, their home office is the kitchen table, so a noise cancelling headset makes more sense. My advice. Talk to employees. Understand their home-working environment. Let them choose the device”
Behind gift box number 10, is Julien Codorniou, VP, Workplace from Facebook.
Question: Social – How important is it for collaboration tools to encourage inclusivity?
Julien answered: “To thrive in 2021, companies must connect every employee. Collaboration tools only work when they give everyone a voice. If they’re only accessible to those working at a desk, the business is excluding many of its people – creating a disconnect between HQ and frontline employees in shops, hotels and manufacturing plants.
Right now frontline workers are keeping their organisations running. But it’s hard to do this when you’re lacking information and feedback channels. In 2021, we therefore expect more organisations to democratise SaaS across their business. Only then can companies retain talent, encourage diverse thinking, and best serve customers and employees”
Graham Walsh, Enterprise UC Technical Director, EMEA, Crestron, is behind gift box number 11.
Question: Hybrid meetings – Whether it’s in-person or virtual, what will vendors need to prioritise on their roadmaps in 2021?
Graham responded with: “Vendors must ensure meeting room technologies are compatible with what remote workers are using at home. Having a different technology in the conference room than on the laptop decreases the adoption rate. Also, whilst in the office space, no touch room control is a plus. This can be done through voice control, or through a dedicated app that allows to control the lights, blinds, air-conditioning and all aspects of the meeting. There is also a clear need for a tool that allows remote control and management of the technology that is being used, especially when coupled with people counting technology”
Behind our final gift box, is John Woods, Editor at XR Today.
Question: VR – How important is an immersive collaboration environment in the future of work?
John answered: “While immersive experiences in virtual realities are fun for consumers in the video gaming and entertainment spaces, the real value of the technology is only just starting to show. Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen significant investments being made by businesses in VR tech to help improve remote collaboration, employee training, safety, and performance, and as the market continues to grow, we expect this trend to continue spreading across all verticals. Along with machine learning and AI, XR technologies like VR are already redefining the way industries operate, and this is only the beginning”