**Editor’s Note: Read our list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.**
By Rhonda Trainor, Director of Merchandising, ScanSource, and Editorial Adviser
Many longtime partners have visual images of the typical customer workplace: cubicles, hardwired phones, computers or laptops, email platforms and conference rooms with projectors or, potentially, video capabilities.
However, the ways in which people collaborate have changed, and so too should your prototypical office. Professionals are more mobile, and consumerization has simplified the way in which people communicate. Millennials are changing the face of business. As a partner, your job is to streamline the experience for customer end users, both in and out of the office. From what I’m seeing among our partners, these nine trends showcase what we should expect from today’s and tomorrow’s business workplace.
- Communications shift away from email. Although colleagues still prefer email for sending attachments and longer forms of communication to multiple people, instant messaging is an easier platform for simple approvals, quick questions and even group chats. Additionally, screen and file sharing are more popular and becoming the norm.
- The rise of BYOD and mobile workplaces mean businesses must be prepared to have their employees working from anywhere and on any device. Whether it’s a tablet or smartphone, inside a hotel room or their bedroom, the remote workforce is here to stay. While BYOD can be a headache for IT teams working to keep networks and security performing at their absolute best, employees are looking for a workplace that allows freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere.
- Wired hardware is almost nonexistent. Laptops and tablets will replace cumbersome desktops, while wireless systems replace traditional hardwired phones. Desk phones may not be dead yet, but users want freedom to move, even within the confines of the brick-and-mortar office environment.
- Web-based communications systems. As mentioned earlier, BYOD and mobile workplaces translate to users expecting to conduct business from any location. This means cloud-based applications and programs will be even more important, not just to consumers, but customers’ employees as well. VoIP-hosted systems and cloud-based email servers provide the flexibility users need — the web browser is the only requirement.
- Collaboration goes beyond the conference room. Today, all-in-one platforms offer document sharing, wikis, file and video sharing, social opportunities and more. This enables stakeholders to create, edit and share documents all without leaving their desk.
- Say hello to WebRTC. WebRTC allows web browsers to function as voice and video endpoints without needing a separate browser plug-in or app. This allows users to click-to-call from a web page or mobile app, and provides UC apps like videoconferencing and telephony to anyone. This peer-to-peer unified communication enables businesses to embed rich communications as a cost-effective method to deploy UC.
- Video: Not just for conferencing anymore. We’ve seen video transform from fun YouTube videos to conferencing mainstay, and now it is an even bigger medium for sharing content. As customers rely on playback for unique content, video has become a reliable and practical tool for distributing information both internally and externally. From training videos to how-to tips and manuals, the video platform is universal and useful for multiple audiences.
- IoT adds more devices and increases collaboration. Sometimes less isn’t more. By now it’s clear that people are not going to be using fewer devices. Partners need a plan to have the Internet of Things connect all those devices and help them work more efficiently together — that’s vital to business communications. Syncing up devices to transmit real-time data to employees throughout the workday enables interactive communications and increased output — just one of IoT’s business benefits.
- Beefing up security. At one time, sensitive communication took place on paper and was marked “classified.” Today, security transcends past the desktop and into the void of the internet. So look for an increase in securing communications as a trend in order for businesses to continue to communicate their proprietary information across and outside of their networks.
What big UC trends do you see developing? Tell us in the comments!
Rhonda Trainor is director of merchandising for ScanSource and a member of the Channel Partners editorial advisory board.