2020 has been a year of digital disruption, and the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) marketspace is no exception. COVID-19 forced organizations to rapidly modernize their communication and collaboration infrastructure to enable remote and hybrid work.
UCaaS has never been more important to the business than it is now. Indeed, with 88% of office workers now stating their preference for some form of hybrid remote work, UCaaS has become absolutely critical in providing connectivity, flexibility, and the means for collaboration.
UCaaS Trends for 2021
Here are the top three UCaaS trends for 2021 to watch for:
- Hybrid work will demand a rethink of how videoconferencing happens in the workplace. Before the pandemic, perhaps only one or two employees in the average office typically had to dial-in remotely for a meeting. The general experience, though, was one of the technological frustration: setting up their connection was time-consuming and, when remote employees could join, their presence was often forgotten about. As hybrid work becomes the default for 2021, we can expect UCaaS vendors to continue investing in videoconferencing solutions that simplify the dial-in process and create a level playing field experience for all attendees. Various market leaders in the UCaaS space – namely Zoom Rooms, Microsoft Teams Rooms, and Webex Rooms, among others – are already pushing their own solutions into the market, and we can expect other contenders to follow suit.
- The demand for data analysis tools will push more investment in AI technology. Data is the new oil: it tells employers about employee productivity, communication engagement, and technology quality of service (QoS). Remote work has only increased the need for visibility into how employers can enhance employee workflows. UCaaS vendors have a key role to play here, with AI-driven capabilities becoming part of a standard offering for market leaders. Detailed insights beyond QoS include sentiment analysis, offering recommendations for improvement, and maintaining compliances – all of which are incredibly valuable to the enterprise.
- Open interface standards will become more commonplace. Out-of-the-box UCaaS solutions definitely have their place, but organizations often want to customize their solution and better integrate it with their current IT architecture. For this to occur, UCaaS offerings need to be based on open standards that allow access to an API. With the rise of communication APIs across the market, the lines between UCaaS, communications platform as a service (CPaaS), and contact center as a service (CCaaS) solutions are blurring significantly. In response, we can expect UCaaS vendors in 2021 to further embrace open standards as they strive to remain competitive. This will allow their solutions to slot right into any organization. A byproduct of this is that the UCaaS market will continue maturing, as solutions and table stakes offerings are largely standardized. Despite the recent influx of high-flying contenders to this market, such Microsoft Teams and Zoom Phone, consumer expectations are increasingly shared for basic solutions. Any new player in this space will thus have a benchmark to meet in order to be taken seriously.
Source: SoftwareReviews UCaaSData Quadrant. Accessed December 18, 2020.
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Research by: Thomas Randall
Info-Tech Research Group
December 17, 2020