There’s no question that the pandemic resulted in long-lasting changes in the way we work. As we moved from the cubicle to the couch, we saw an evolution that would have taken decades happen in a matter of months. And it appears these changes are here to stay.
Yet there have been many significant trends that have gone unnoticed in the wake of the virus. These are the non-pandemic trends driving the mass adoption of unified communications. We’ll get into them, but first, let’s cover the basics.
What Is UC?
Before we talk about what’s driving demand, let’s make sure we cover the basics. Unified communications, or “UC” for short, is the aptly named class of technologies that unify your communication channels. Rather than having a stationary desk phone with separate apps for chatting and video conferencing, you can combine these functionalities onto a single platform, like Webex or Microsoft Teams with Direct Routing.
As you can imagine, UC solutions are becoming pretty popular as their features make them ideal for modern communication needs. Not only do they limit the number of tools you need to connect with your teams, they also increase productivity, mobility and flexibility.
The Trends Driving UC Adoption
The growing popularity of remote and hybrid work is certainly one of the trends driving the mass adoption of UC in corporate America. But we’re going to chalk that one up to the pandemic. According to a study from Intermedia Cloud Communications, 57 percent of small and mid-sized business (SMB) decision makers who increased remote working as a result of social distancing needs plan to maintain this arrangement long-term.
There are, however, other commonly overlooked trends — of no relation to the pandemic — that are resulting in the adoption of UC tools. So let’s talk about those.
1. Generation of Digital Natives
This one should come as no surprise. As one generation ages out of the workforce, another takes a seat at the conference table. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 75 percent of workers will be millennials by 2030. And if there’s one stereotype more associated with this generation than avocado toast, it’s their attachment to technology.
Millennials grew up in the internet era, becoming the first generation of digital natives. They’re more comfortable with technology than their corporate predecessors and have high expectations for user experience and functionality. They expect their work applications to meet the same user friendly standards as the apps they use in their personal lives.
2. Growing Contingent Workforce
It’s not your grandpa’s job market anymore. Gone are the days of one-track careers and single organization loyalties. More and more people are finding freedom through freelance work. According to a 2020 study from Upwork, 73 percent of hiring managers plan to either continue or increase their use of independent contractors or freelancers moving forward.
While this change won’t impact every company, it does appear that there’s a growing trend toward a more transient workforce. But no matter how dispersed your team is, you still need to ensure everyone is communicating. UC tools give your teams the power to collaborate from anywhere, on any device, whether they’re full-time with a pension plan or contracted for the next six months.
3. Changing Customer Expectations
We’re not sure what you ate for dinner last night, but let’s say it was the best pizza you’ve ever had. From now on, every piece of pizza you consume will be compared to that pizza. The same concept applies to customer experience. Once you’ve had an amazing customer experience, you’ll compare all future experiences to that new benchmark.
In fact, according to an Epsilon Research study, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that delivers personalized experiences. Delivering that kind of experience requires effective collaboration across business units. Your marketing team needs to be able to talk with your product, customer support and service delivery teams. A UC tool with a company-wide directory makes this type of collaboration easy to initiate and maintain.
4. Digital Transformation Efforts
It’s not just the cool kids anymore; everyone is moving to the cloud. You don’t have to be a multimillion dollar corporation or an international enterprise. According to a 2021 Techaisle survey, 96 percent of SMBs rated collaboration as a high priority for IT, second only to cloud initiatives. If you want to compete in the marketplace, cloud-based software and collaboration tools need to be strategic priorities.
Hesitating or postponing your move to the cloud won’t just hurt internal communication; you’ll also be putting your business at risk by not adopting the security, flexibility and productivity that comes with UC technology. Digital transformation is happening all over the world, and if you don’t want to get left in the land of legacy solutions, it’s time to get on the train to the cloud.
Collaboration Without Boundaries
Whether we’re talking about customers or employees, one thing is clear: demographics and expectations are changing — and rapidly! Between the new generation of digital natives in the workplace and an increasingly demanding customer base in the support queue, you won’t survive without the proper collaboration technology.
Ensure your teams have the tools they need to get the job done from anywhere, on any device, with a solution that’s adaptable to a wide range of work styles, roles and environments. Whatever your number one priority is — improving communication between dispersed teams, meeting customer needs, or executing your digital transformation strategy — we’ve got the UC tools you need to ensure success.