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UC Roundup: Windstream, Wildix 2021 UCC Trends Amid COVID-19

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For 2021, Windstream and Wildix cite numerous UCC trends guided by the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond technological breakthroughs, 2021 UCC trends will be defined by evolving buying and distribution habits, Wildix said. And continuing work-from-home models will drive specialized needs for such solutions.

Wildix's Robert Cooper

Wildix’s Robert Cooper

“The coronavirus pandemic has required many companies to rethink their business plans,” said Robert Cooper, managing director of Wildix Americas.

Among 2021 UCC trends, applications designed with a mobile-first approach will be the key differentiator for providers moving forward. That’s according to Austin Herrington, Windstream’s vice president of product management.

Businesses will move up plans to migrate from premises-based to cloud-based systems, he said. This will offer a wider range of mobile capabilities.

Windstream Enterprise's Austin Herrington

Windstream Enterprise’s Austin Herrington

“Even with cloud solutions, phone hardware sales will continue to decline in favor of soft client apps, WebRTC and other IP-based delivery,” Herrington said. “There will be more emphasis on reporting and analytics around employee productivity. Remote working will place even greater importance on security as organizations begin to rely on sometimes unpredictable home networks and employee behavior away from the office. Each of these trends will have significant impacts on verticals like health care with the rise of telehealth, education with remote teaching and more.”

There’s increasing confusion and a general lack of confidence among organizations approaching the UCC technology market, Wildix said. That’s because new versions of hardware and software quickly render previous models obsolete.

To remedy this, technology providers are increasingly offering subscription-based, as-a-service sales models. Hardware and software is rolled out and installed as soon as updated versions become available. Wildix anticipates as-a-service UCC deployments will continue to grow. At the same time, demand for and profitable use of the traditional one-off sales will shrink.

Also among UCC trends is better mobile and meeting technologies.

“Mobile and meeting technologies will continue to evolve to enable better interactions,” Herrington said. “For example, AI support for digital assistants to provide meeting notes, actions and scheduling will become more intuitive and accepted.”

This trend will also drive adjacent adoption of remote workspace tools, he said. That includes more immersive audio and visual IoT devices, security and performance appliances for home office users.

Many organizations responded to the pandemic with increased investments in business continuity, or digital architecture, Wildix said. That enables businesses to continue regular processes amid compromising external factors.

For the foreseeable future, business will continue to be conducted remotely, Herrington said. The lack of in-person interaction can present challenges. But there’s no better opportunity to showcase the remote capabilities of solutions than selling them in that very same manner.

“The mix of channels utilized for technology providers like Windstream will also shift to include more online presence, and remote demo and purchasing capabilities,” he said. “This could also impact the mix of channel partners who operate in this space with the enablement of more remote channels coming into play.”

In addition, there’s little question that business travel will remain down in the foreseeable future, Wildix said. Even when travel restrictions are lifted, video conferencing and webinar solutions have normalized remote meetings and presentations. That minimized costs associated with business travel. With that in mind, greater scrutiny of business travel costs is among anticipated UCC trends next year.

Also amid UCC trends, Wildix expects more opportunities for companies that sell directly to customers instead of resellers or MSPs. It’s important for MSPs to compete by making use of the as-a-service sales model. They should also stress recognizable branding whenever possible.

“There will be a partial return to the workplace with pre-cautions to prevent future outbreaks,” Herrington said. “But we may never see a full return to pre-COVID-19. Organizations who have seen the value in remote work during the pandemic and have invested in it will most likely retain a remote workforce culture going forward.”

Also among UCC trends, retailers, restaurants and hospitality will most likely resurge. But they’ll do so with more online and delivery options enabled by technology, Herrington said.

The new remote workforce may be reticent to returning to normal commutes and office work hours, he said.

“Based on that, we expect the continued growth of UC and online meeting solutions for the foreseeable future,” Herrington said.

AI to the Rescue in Contact Center

The pandemic and race to remote work created new hardships for contact centers. But AI can help contact centers not just survive, but thrive during this difficult time.

That’s according to Anand Janefalkar, founder and CEO of Ujet. A recent study from Ujet and Canam Research shows 74% of respondents either researching or in the process of implementing AI within their contact center.

Also among UCC trends, Gartner predicts that by 2022 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as…

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