Let's talk about unified communications

Eighteen months ago, workers were prevented from swinging by a colleague's desk for a face-to-face catch up. Overnight, teams across the globe were forced to think outside the office to reimagine how they would communicate and collaborate in a socially distanced world. Businesses of all sizes quickly acclimatized to corresponding remotely with their co-workers and clients.

Video conferencing was promoted from the last and least fancied communication method. Creating a new aligned communication environment led to a massive spike in enterprises turning to Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solutions. The challenge was to unify all internal and external communications into one cohesive platform.

The transition to remote working meant that every phone call, email, live chat, video conference, screen, and file-sharing tool were all available as they were in the office. That meant every iOS and Android-enabled smartphone along with desktop computers, laptops, and tablets to enable teams to collaborate from anywhere, on any device. The global working from the home experiment was just the beginning of a new way of working and communicating.

Thinking outside the office

The future of work is no longer a binary choice of working from home or in the office. Instead, a more hybrid approach enables staff to choose which environment suits them most, depending on the task at hand. Teams also have the flexibility to work in a combination of the two. For the most part, organizations have seized the opportunity to redefine how they communicate, collaborate, and share ideas.

Rather than return to the old way of doing things, leaders are reimagining the workplace.

With the removal of the barriers between the office and the home, new virtual collaborative environments are beginning to take shape. In addition, tech giants are beginning to bring the concept of the metaverse to life by building digital spaces designed to transcend the space-time of our physical world.

We're mediating our lives and our communication through these small, glowing rectangles. I think that that's not how people are made to interact.

Mark Zuckerberg

As we prepare to enter a digital era of unprecedented interoperability, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has his sights set on making the social behemoth a metaverse company. In a recent interview, Zuckerberg shared his vision for the future. Instead of calling a colleague to work through a complex problem, he believes employees will eventually have the ability to teleport in and work on a 3D model with a colleague.

How unified communications are transforming customer service

Tech-savvy consumers now have a diverse list of preferences and demands from brands. The rise in contactless convenience has created a low-touch economy where they expect superior personalized digital experiences as standard. Unified communication (UC) technology plays a critical role in guiding consumers through every step of the customer journey.

Digital natives might create an account using their web browser before checking the order status on WhatsApp. If there was a problem with an expired payment method, the retailer might call and ask to confirm their identity using biometric authentication on their smartphone and enter the new card details using the phone's keypad. Finally, the delivery driver will send the customer SMS delivery updates and also inform the retailer when the delivery has been completed with an image of them passing over the item to a happy customer.

These contactless shopping experiences are already available and are raising the level of expectations of consumers. So, it's only a matter of time before many will reject brands that insist on creating a one-way monologue via the dreaded do-not-reply email address. But bringing together voice, text, chat, video, and email is impossible without implementing the right technologies and virtualizing their communications infrastructure through application programming interfaces (APIs).

Security in unified communications

Please spare a thought for security teams who have now been challenged with protecting the office and corporate network and information stored digitally in employees' homes and everywhere they travel. Data management on everything from the shared home internet connection to public Wi-Fi across work and personal devices can be notoriously complex.

Corporate conversations across messaging apps, screen sharing sessions, and video conferencing streams present a strong case for encrypting all data. When combined with firewalls and session border controllers, it can help prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

The scale of communication tools means it's unrealistic to expect internal security teams to manage the growing number of attack vectors. Attackers are increasingly using sophisticated methods when targeting businesses with phishing, robocalls, and scam calls. Specialist UCaaS and UC solutions are fighting back with AI and automated services that identify threats before they occur while also continuously monitoring the performance.

Businesses, brands, employees, and consumers have all seen an increase in the digitization of how they interact with each other. With a diversity of preferences, it's unified communications that hold the keys to greater flexibility, mobility, productivity, and responsiveness in both our work and personal lives.

We have already redefined how we work and shop in a digital world. The bigger question is how we can continue to improve the digital experiences around how we communicate and collaborate? How brands and businesses respond to these challenges will play a critical role in retaining customers, talent, and the consumers that power their business.