6 New Trends Shaping the Future of Unified Communications (UC)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect how we work in 2022, the global market for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) will continue to see an uptick in demand and in emerging trends. The market for UCaaS in 2021 was $28.96 billion and is expected to grow to nearly $70 billion in 2028.

Unified communications is a centralized workplace solution that gathers all modes of communication, such as voice call, messaging/chat, and more, into one software platform to make communication and collaboration easy and accessible. 

Also read: Maximizing the Benefits of UCaaS

Benefits of Unified Communications (UC)

Your company shares communications infrastructure with other companies, and it requires a stable internet connection at all times, but you may find that the benefits of UCaaS outweigh the drawbacks. The benefits of UC are many, including but not limited to: 

  • UCaaS provider maintains communications infrastructure, thereby reducing operating costs 
  • IT team can focus on other crucial business tasks
  • At-home and in-office employees can communicate and collaborate seamlessly across time zones, devices, departments etc.
  • Companies can easily provision, manage, and access reports via a self-service portal on the web
  • Companies can attract and retain employees with work-from-home flexibility
  • Companies can address inequities in accessibility, workload distribution, and interpersonal dynamics

As companies continue to adopt UC to unify communications across remote and in-office employees in various time zones in 2022, certain trends will emerge and shape the future of UCaaS.

Also read: Improving Workplace Equity with Unified Communications 

6 UC Trends to Expect in 2022

1. AI

AI is playing an increasingly important role in UC. With virtual assistants like Cortana or platforms like Slack, AI-powered bots and tools facilitate employee collaboration by retrieving files. AI in UC also automates processes, such as responding to common customer questions or monitoring system performance. 

Moreover, since videoconferencing is becoming more popular, AI is powering new features in UCaaS products, such as speech-to-text transcription, meeting recording, and translation. These AI-backed features are not only beneficial from an accessibility standpoint but also keep records of meetings without the need for a note-taker. 8×8, for instance, offers AI-powered intelligence from all recorded transactions. 

AI ultimately frees up employee time to collaborate face-to-face or virtually and coordinates employees across multiple locations and teams to work towards a common goal.  

Also read: The Impact of AI on Unified Communications 

2. Cloud-based UC

More companies will seek UCaaS as a cloud-based solution to their communication and collaboration needs as opposed to an on-premise UC solution. UCaaS saves the company money and supports mobile work and work from home. It’s also scalable and more secure. Growing SMBs and widespread enterprises alike will increasingly turn to cloud-based UC in the form of UCaaS. 

3. Improvements in performance using SD-WAN

Given the increasing popularity of cloud-based UCaaS platforms, expect to see a proportional gain in popularity for software-defined area-networking (SD-WAN). UCaaS and SD-WAN make a power couple for securely accommodating increased cloud traffic to mitigate delayed or distorted image/sound, dropped calls, and other issues that arise as a result of overburdened bandwidth. An SD-WAN scans cloud traffic and automatically fixes problems, allowing for a consistently optimal UCaaS user-experience. It also makes the network more secure by segmenting cloud traffic by application. 

4. Personalized customer interactions

UCaaS not only has internal applications between employees but also external applications as well. UCaaS has been increasingly leveraged to build and enhance relationships between companies and their customers. 

Contact Centers as a Service (CCaaS) is a specific application of UC that provides a one-stop hub for communication with customers via bot, live chat, social media, text messages, and mobile apps. It makes companies easily and securely accessible to rectify customer issues and ensures consistent customer experiences across communication channels. RingCentral, for example, is a UCaaS solution that integrates a contact center.

CCaaS incorporates and informs data from internal and external systems, such as CRM tools, to generate business intelligence about sales KPIs, customer behavior, and more. Data from interactions within CCaaS, in turn, inform the exchange of information between employees and teams within UCaaS. 

5. Security

UC platforms allow employees to collaborate using a wide variety of tools, devices, and systems across ever-growing networks. While this affords workers great flexibility, it also presents more opportunities for hackers. The increasingly ubiquitous BYOD and work-from-home models underscore a continued and growing demand for security in UC platforms to address security risks and vulnerabilities, such as teleconference hacking or data breaches when exchanging information via voice, chat, etc. This particularly affects companies working within the healthcare industry who need to remain HIPAA compliant. UCaaS vendors will respond in turn with increased security features geared toward certain industries in order to address the ever-changing security landscape. 

Nextiva is one UCaaS provider in particular that meets high security standards, including ISO/IEC 27001 certification.

6. Virtualization

Virtualization more generally is the practice of turning computer storage, servers, and other network hardware virtual, making them easier to maintain and deploy across a dispersed network of devices. Virtualization is an emerging trend in UC that allows IT teams to build networks on the cloud from selected components needed for carrying out company goals, whether that’s teleconferencing, file sharing and storage, or instant messaging. Building a private network on the cloud cuts operating costs and makes it easier for employees to connect from any device.

Also read: 7 Trends in Enterprise Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) 

UC Trends for the New Year

Since work-from-home is here to stay, UC will remain a must-have in mobile workplaces that coordinate employees across multiple locations, time zones, and devices. UC facilitates and improves internal as well as external communication, leading to increased customer satisfaction. It may also make a difference in cultivating a safe, supportive company culture. 

UC trends to watch out for in 2022 reflect what companies value in a UC solution: automation, flexibility, and security. The trends also reflect companies’ increasingly employee-centric approach to accommodate how and where they prefer to work with their colleagues towards common business goals in the new year. 

Read next: Top UCaaS Providers & Companies for 2021

Lauren Hansen
Lauren Hansen
Lauren Hansen is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, covering IT strategy and trends, enterprise networking, and PM software for CIOInsight.com, enterprisenetworkingplanet.com, project-management.com, and technologyadvice.com. When she's not writing about technology trends, she's working out or spending time with family.
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