The future of work is increasingly remote as employees work across branch offices, cities and time zones. Consequently, unified communications and collaboration technology needs to provide users with a seamless experience that allows them to do their work better and faster.
“It’s a race in the market for who can blend all these [technologies] and offer a more compelling user experience,” said Aragon Research analyst Jim Lundy.
The global unified communications market is expected to increase from $39 billion in 2017 to more than $65 billion by 2023, according to Lundy. The UCC market is experiencing major growth as various technologies converge, such as video conferencing, business intelligence and contact center.
For many UCC vendors, the convergence of communication and collaboration technology is driven by the need for what Lundy calls people-centric collaboration, where the technology doesn’t get in the way of people communicating and collaborating.
“A lot of tech platforms dictate how to do work because they’re fixed and don’t give flexibility,” Lundy said in a recent webinar that examined the future of the UCC market.
An employee on a phone call with two other people, for example, may want to escalate the call to video. But to do so, everyone on the call must hang up the phone and join a video call. A people-centric approach to collaboration would allow the users to seamlessly transition from voice to video without interruption.
But how do UCC vendors achieve people-centric collaboration in their services? The answer, according to Lundy, lies in AI.
AI could automate collaboration workflows
The introduction of AI to unified communications and collaboration can support more seamless collaboration by automating certain workflows, such as switching communication modes.
By 2021, 40% of UCC providers will offer AI-based digital assistants to support more seamless collaboration experiences, Lundy said. Organizations should start to evaluate where AI digital assistants can benefit their employees and question their UCC providers on their plans for AI.
“Why is conversational AI so important? Many of those assistants are going to help you with getting meetings scheduled and established,” Lundy said.
Chatbots and digital assistants will become more intelligent as the technology matures and function as work assistants. Some UC providers are starting to introduce digital assistants and chatbots to their services, including Amazon’s Alexa for Business, Microsoft’s Cortana and Cisco Webex Assistant.
Intelligent content analytics is another area where AI can improve UCC technology and the user experience. Intelligent content analytics covers four areas: document analytics, voice analytics, video analytics and image analytics. Voice and video analytics in particular are emerging in the UCC market, he said.
Voice analytics includes capabilities such as meeting transcriptions, key meeting insights and sentiment analysis. Video analytics include capabilities such as facial recognition, intelligent meeting rooms and security.
“You can start to see that intelligence is creeping into your meeting and communications experiences,” Lundy said.