2020 has seen huge changes in the way we communicate with each other. Social distancing and remote working have complicated one of the fundamentals of our world, the ability to communicate. However, the explosion in the use of technology to overcome these challenges has been stark.
Video calling friends and relatives during periods of lockdown have been crucial in keeping families in touch with each other and proved a lifeline for many.
“It’s good to talk” (to customers and colleagues)
It is not just in our personal lives though that communication has become an issue. Professionally things have changed dramatically. With many teams no longer working in the office, meetings have had to take place remotely with companies having to rapidly invest in solutions that plug the gaps and allow companies to continue to work effectively.
Communicating has become more important than ever both in terms of business continuity, but also to keep teams together, morale high and to ensure that everyone is connected. Unified communications has played a huge role in this, with many firms accelerating their adoption of such solutions in order to overcome the challenges facing them.
UC as a Service spiking in pandemic
As a result of companies looking to firm up their ability to communicate effectively, UC has very quickly become a priority for many. Indeed, recent research from Avant Research and Analytics’ found that the growth of UC and UCaaS has been remarkable. It showed that UCaaS spiked at 86 percent in the midst of the pandemic, highlighting just how many firms were having to quickly look to rapidly deploy new communication solutions in order to continue with business.
The Avant research also highlighted the key verticals that have seemingly taken full advantage of the benefits UC provides. The medical/healthcare sectors posted the highest growth rates, which is perhaps unsurprising as it is the sector under the most obvious strain during the pandemic.
Synergy Research Group also found that the UCaaS market in 2020 had an annualized growth rate of about 29 percent, a real indication of the shift towards UC during this period.
What are the benefits of UC?
Even for those organizations that have yet to embrace UC technology, the benefits of moving to such solutions are now becoming very clear.
The pandemic has seen huge numbers of desk handsets sitting idle as offices remain empty with increasing numbers of workforces working from home. As most of these handsets are hired, there must be millions of pounds being wasted, sitting on desktops simply not being used.
With many organizations considering not returning to the office environment companies are having to reconsider their communication strategies and preferences.
UC gives companies multiple opportunities for driving efficiencies and increasing customer service levels. Some of the key benefits include:
- The fact that employees can work from almost any device means that they can communicate with colleagues and customers at all times
- Obviously, the fact that UC allows people to work from any location has been crucial during the pandemic. It also encourages employees to work more flexible hours, driving higher levels of efficiency and greater customer service levels
- Having the ability to share screens and collaborate with team members when outside of the office also means that it is not just business as usual, but can actually drive efficiencies. Many companies are finding that time is being saved by remote meetings and email communication.
- The ‘forced’ pause in face-to-face meetings has meant that any communications are now online. This has meant that employees can join and leave meetings as required, rather than spending the entire meeting sitting around waiting for their moment to contribute.
- This means that employees are able to get on with other work, completing tasks, that had the meeting been in the office would have been otherwise been delayed
Stepping back and assessing solutions
Many companies will have rushed to implement solutions to plug the gap in their communications during the initial stages of the pandemic. However, whilst these might have done the job in the short term, companies now have to assess whether they will be effective in the long term taking into account the fact that many employees will not be returning to the office.
In this new working environment UC can play a pivotal role. It allows companies to operate as ‘normal’ no matter where their staff are located. It is not just enabling remote working where UC can provide real benefits.
Ensuring that any investment long-term results should be the priority and UC can deliver these. It can deliver efficiency and better business practice throughout the organization, equipping business for the ‘new reality’ of working all whilst ensuring the best possible customer service.
Communications allowing the workplace of the future to thrive
2020 was a year of huge change. Companies are now facing a very different future to the one they were expecting. A major part of this is communication. It is no longer just about paying rent on desktop handsets. Companies are now having to think about how hybrid teams can communicate with one another, how workforces can continue as ‘normal’ as possible and how to ensure customers continue to get the same level of service as they did before the pandemic. As result many companies were forced to quickly implement technology over the course of 2020 just to allow them to continue functioning as a business.
2021 provides the opportunity for all of us to take a step back, review what happened in 2020, what solutions were implemented and whether they are going to be effective for the long-term and the ‘new’ reality of the workplace. UC has already proved itself value to many, not just in allowing companies to function during these times, but in many cases actually make them more effective and agile with their communications across the board.
Tom Moore, Director, Acronyms