Technology today is ubiquitous, prompting businesses across industries and scale to transform their business model, making digital transformation a reality. Enterprise collaboration industry is at the epicentre of digital transformation, enabling true scenarios of productivity, scalability, agility and bringing forth enhanced customer experience. In 2018, we saw increased investment by companies in ensuring a seamless customer experience. Customers are no longer loyal to brands which offer products at competitive prices, or significantly innovating, customers are rather loyal to brands which regularly engage with them and provide a true omni-channel customer experience.
In 2018, as emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain continued to build real-world use cases, enterprise collaboration players adopted these technologies to provide a seamless and unified platform to its customers.
Five key technology trends for enterprise collaboration industry in 2019:
Outlook for the enterprise collaboration industry
Businesses in 2019 and beyond will focus on adopting solutions that are agile, adaptable, open and scalable, prompting enterprise collaboration players to develop solutions which provide a seamless yet unique experience. As the workforce of today has evolved, businesses will need to adopt technology that is suited for the workforce of tomorrow, enhancing productivity and helping to share information in a secure and seamless manner. As we move forward, we will witness enterprise collaboration players adopting technologies such as AI, ML and blockchain to make their products more secure, bring in real-time customer sentiment analysis and provide better overall experiences to their customers.
Emerging technologies move from pilot to mainstream adoption
AI, ML, blockchain and data science are no longer buzz phrases. These technologies have evolved from pilot projects to becoming mainstream. Today, for example, AI is being used in remote surgeries, and Google Pixel smartphones have changed the way you photograph on mobile thanks to machine learning. As a result, going forward, these technologies will be at the core of every organization’s business strategy. According to IDC’s Worldwide Semi-Annual Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide, cognitive and AI spending will grow to $52.2 billion in 2021.
Increased investment in emergency services
Governments across the world are increasingly investing in strengthening and digitizing their emergency services. Government agencies today receive overwhelming numbers of emergency queries and calls, and responding to all of them in real-time is a growing challenge.
The rise of voice technologies
In the words of the late Mark Weiser – arguably the father of ubiquitous computing – “Natural user-interfaces like voice and gesture, represent the evolution of technology”.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen voice-based technologies go mainstream again. Companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple are continuously investing in voice and speech recognition technologies and the increased capabilities that have resulted from this have created significant demand in the market. In the business world, as voice evolves, there’s an increased interest in voice technologies in industries such as BFSI and hospitality – among others – and this will only increase as more use cases become apparent.
In a global survey conducted by us, of 8,000 consumers interviewed, over 70% prefer contacting customer services by phone and believe it is the most effective means of getting the best answer. Our research also shows that new, AI-based voice technologies are gaining major traction with consumers, with two in three people wanting chatbots to become more intuitive. Half of those interviewed would like to speak to customer service agents through their smart speakers, and 71% want to bypass identification and verification questions by using voice biometrics. Voice represents a great opportunity to deliver fabulous customer experiences.
Open architectures pave the way for the future
As agility and scalability continue to be a priority for businesses across the globe, technology vendors have to start opening up. Traditionally, technology vendors sustained and differentiated themselves by continually bringing new proprietary solutions to market—a recipe for success in an age of a closed, hardware-dependent architecture. But this is no longer possible in today’s era of digital transformation. Intelligent, connected technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and machine learning have ushered enterprises into a new era of integrated, any-to-any communication. And it’s a future filled with seemingly limitless collaboration and CX possibilities.
Gartner predicts that start-ups will overtake industry leaders in markets like AI by 2019. This illustrates that level of disruption that’s already being seen in the market. The more open a business ecosystem is, the more seamlessly data can be leveraged within it to drive desired customer and citizen outcomes. The ability to track, collect and share data across dispersed systems is what allows companies to create customised solutions that target exact customer requirements. This open, extensible nature is vital within a next-generation platform.
Differentiating oneself is no longer as simple as rolling out a new proprietary solution. To deliver true value, organizations must be open, agile, integrated and future-proof. As the world continues transitioning to an API-based ecosystem, we become that much closer to eliminating a longstanding dependency on legacy hardware and hierarchal architecture.
The author is Managing Director, Avaya India & SAARC