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Four enterprise communications trends for 2021 and beyond

Author: Lauren McMenemy

In a world that's constantly moving and changing, is it safe to make predictions about where enterprise communications might be headed?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only turned the business world on its head, it’s upended the whole world. As a result, we're seeing digital workplace transformation being implemented more quickly than anticipated, making the future of business communications increasingly mobile, agile and connected.

But how do we prepare for the future of business communications?

What is the future of business communications?

Communications in 2021 and beyond is converging around four key trends: facilitating remote workers, integrating VoIP and telephony services into operations, deploying enterprise mobility management and security, and implementing unified communications as a service, or UCaaS.

Let's explore these trends in more detail.

The growing trend of remote work

With the recent dramatic rise in remote work, digital workplace transformation plans have been pushed into overdrive, and companies are discovering where the gaps are more quickly than ever.

The number of people working from home has grown exponentially since the beginning of 2020,  due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. According to Global Workplace Analytics, by the end of 2021, almost 42 million people, or just shy of one-third of the American workforce, will be working from home full time—a 733% increase in less than two years. What was once a privilege extended to only select individuals is increasingly becoming the norm for many Americans. And that means businesses need to rethink how they empower employees to connect with each other and with their customers.

Remote workers need secure access from anywhere at any time, and in a way that streamlines productivity. The other trends in enterprise communications will help to underpin this.

VoIP and voice services

5G is touted to radically change internet connectivity, while different types of business communications enterprise communications built around VoIP and voice services will experience shorter response times as the new normal.. That means improved call quality, faster connections and increased capacities.

The rise of VoIP has some experts predicting the end of telephone numbers as part of the communication stack, but that's a long way off yet. Before then, expect interactive voice response (IVR) technology to take shape in unified communications, helping to make the call center more efficient and customer experience more flexible.

Enterprise mobility management and security

Communications technology has come a long way in only a few decades, particularly mobile communications—imagine how different things would have been had COVID-19 hit in 2005 instead. But the increase in mobility means an increase in risk. As the world grows more connected, new doors open to attackers looking to breach your business, and managing risk becomes more important and complex.

According to Willis Towers Watson, three emerging trends will alter the cyber risk management landscape:

  • A big increase in remote workers permanently expands the attack surface, which will require new ways of prioritizing and mitigating cyber risk.
  • Companies will respond by turning their attention to the human element and build more robust cyber risk cultures.
  • HR leaders must take a role in cyber security and join forces with CISO and other tech leaders.

Human-caused cyber incidents could be seen as largely avoidable, so enterprise communications need to be developed and delivered in a safe and secure manner. Business leaders must also embed a culture of security awareness into their organizations, ensuring staff adhere to policies when they're not within the company premises or network.

Unified communications as a service (UCaaS)

What are unified communications for the enterprise? Consider how communication channels have been increasingly integrated into a single enterprise service. This single service uses VoIP as the underlying technology, but it offers much more than voice calls.

Under the umbrella of UCaaS, enterprise communications include web, audio, and video conferencing, unified messaging (fax, voicemail, email), instant messaging and presence, team collaboration and more. This single, integrated enterprise communications service stack helps businesses save time and money—there's no need for separate systems, which means no separate equipment outlays. And because it's based in the cloud, users can access enterprise communications systems from anywhere at any time. Plus, putting the full communications stack in the cloud means less physical on-premises space is needed for servers and equipment, which delivers additional cost savings and makes communications technology easier to update more frequently.

UCaaS is well on its way to becoming the standard delivery model for business communications, further helping to underpin other trends such as increased mobility, more flexible access and better connectivity.

Getting ready to seize the communications day

Smart enterprises continually ask what the latest communications technology looks like, so they can stay one step ahead of the curve. But they also recognize that working with a partner can help smooth the implementation process, accelerate user adoption, and ensure communications technology is embedded properly into the organization.

See how you could adapt and transform your business with help from Verizon.