The pandemic has surfaced issues for businesses across the tech industry, but many of these issues can be mitigated through making the correct choices now. COVID-19 is a large unknown, but it's clear it's impacting the future of remote working. To keep business going, most have had to adopt a reliable UCC solution, almost overnight.
In 2021, technologies that don't support the ability to bend to the unique workflows of B2C and B2B scenarios, as well as those that are not fully invested in a cloud strategy, or who still rely on single vendors will struggle to meet the broad range of customer requirements in the coming years, as we move to a more hybrid way of working.
Technologies that facilitate integrations and workflow assimilation within the telecommunications sector will drive the greatest demand in the coming year. Of course AI would be at the top of most people’s lists, but APIs and development tools such as SDKs will win first. APIs/SDKs enable a broad set of IT workers and developers to immediately insert communications into an ever-changing work environment that requires workflow mapping. This helps people adjust to the forced nature of working from home and makes the impact of doing business during the pandemic more productive.
Retail Communications in 2021
2021 will be much better for retail as retailers have adapted to the "Now Normal" of the COVID19 pandemic. At first, retailers had to deal with a falloff of customers being able to purchase in stores. Only 100% of digital retailers were able to deliver at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, retailers have organized their efforts to leverage and enable a hybrid approach to allow customers to return to the brick and mortar stores. The key to making this happen was a rush of technology that supported new communication-based workflows to connect customers to retailers.
Growth opportunities will come from retailers that grow sales by making contactless delivery of services and products by merely leveraging communications technologies that support voice, video, messaging, presence, ad-hoc chat, and push-to-talk services. The key is mashing up the technology to help the customer in every step from discovery to purchased services and products.
The UCC services that we all use every day will help drive retailers' demand back through the ecosystem vendors supporting the various revenue streams. However, this is not about force-fitting those technologies or products into retailers' workflows, but instead curtailing the technologies to enable the best user experience possible. Vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and hosted providers struggle to do this because they can not easily customize their solutions to bend to the ever-changing and dynamic requirements that differentiate retailers.
Older walkie talkie, headphones, and isolated POS systems will decline quicker. The customer experience's key differentiation will lay flat archaic technologies for those that have already been proven out in the consumers and knowledge works for hands and now available for the retail vertical.
Channel Communications in 2021
As COVID-19 continues to be a problem, there will be more of an opportunity as enterprises need to deal with remote workers. The latest research from Nemertes shows that 91 percent of enterprise employees support work-from-home compared to 63 percent previously[*]. It also turns out that 72 percent of employees work at home now, versus 34 percent prior to the pandemic[*]. So the numbers support more and more technology investment for remote working. They also push medium-to-large enterprises to re-evaluate solutions for the long-term sustainability of the change in IT required to support remote working. Our belief is, all of this together means more opportunities for the channel to provide value to enterprise IT organizations, to help offer the solutions that support long-term work-from-home programs.
As previously mentioned, significant growth will come from the continued work-from-home support initiatives. We are in the #NowNormal of enterprise work life that is impacting every sector and industry that relies on communications. Another facet of the growth will come from frontline/field workers. We sometimes forget that knowledge workers represent only 20 percent of the addressable market for UC/UCC. The other 80 percent is thirsting for cohesive UC/UCC communications in the era of COVID-19[*].
Technologies that drive integrations and workflow assimilation within the telecommunications sector will drive the greatest demand. Of course AI would be at the top of most people’s lists, but APIs and development tools such as SDKs will win first. APIs/SDKs enable a broad set of IT workers and developers to immediately insert communications into an everchanging work environment that requires workflow mapping. This helps people adjust to the forced nature of working from home and makes the impact of doing business during the pandemic more productive. For example, we are seeing companies leverage our APIs and SDKs to enable integration in a variety of their applications. We have a customer using our APIs to leverage a guest app at a hotel to make and receive phone calls. We have another customer looking to leverage our SDK into ATM machines for virtual tellers. These are just a few examples of how APIs and SDKs can be leveraged into the workflow.
[*] Managing the Future of Remote Teams: 2020 and Beyond
No matter what your role, we are all in this together. UC solutions can play a part in connecting us to our family, friends and colleagues. For that reason, we're pleased to be in the business of connecting people.
Whether you're a reseller of UC solutions for retail, call centers, hospitality or healthcare, we have solutions that can help you streamline communications.