Advanced, modern communication tools for collaboration prove how far we’ve come, but there are still challenges on the road ahead.
I had the pleasure of spending the past week at CommsVNext, enjoying a front row seat into the latest advancements in communication technology, hearing insightful and fascinating presentations and speeches from our community’s leading voices, and learning more about the state of our industry as a whole and where we’re headed.
The experience gave me a remarkable perspective into how profoundly communications technology has evolved since I began this journey back in 2006. Back then, we imagined the possibilities of what merging various popular communications into one solution would look like. At the time, consolidating instant messaging, PBX, meetings, recordings, and Teleconferencing, into an all-in-one platform still seemed like a distant dream.
Now, it’s reality.
Advanced, modern communication tools for collaboration prove how far we’ve come, but there are still challenges on the road ahead. Here are the biggest trends currently shaping the communications and collaboration space, and what we can expect to see in the future.
Communication apps need to be “team players”
Goodbye, information silos.
Today’s collaboration solutions are all about breaking down barriers and uniting company data and communications into one single source of truth. A “single pane of glass” model, which means that companies can control their communications and collaboration tools in a centralized location, is critical for streamlining day-to-day operations. It’s also essential for obtaining a big-picture overview into what’s going on inside an organization.
Sessions over the week from Tom Arbuthnot, Traci Herr and others demonstrated this through Microsoft Teams’ numerous collaboration tools, which are now integrated into the platform itself. Calling plans, point and click number activation, admin assignments made simple, and Pay as You Go offers for carriers are all accessible in one interface.
Teams is just one example of an overall industry shift towards interoperability and platforms that offer users big-picture solutions and features that intuitively anticipate customer needs. As companies grow to scale and technology continues to progress, companies are looking for solutions that can help ease the burden on IT teams and are flexible and open enough to integrate with the newer solutions in the future.
Cloud is king
I can’t overstate the impact of cloud-based productivity suites in our space. They have opened the doors to create the dream state for collaboration, pushing communications technology to a place where it’s possible to do things that were unimaginable a little over a decade ago.
During the conference, we watched Jaymie Stark of Microsoft showcased the ability to administrate user profiles in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center. She demonstrated how simple provisioning can be, with administrators adding new users in minutes. There was no arduous server provisioning, no SQL set-up, no command line, no complications – literally, just point, click, and boom! Real-time changes were made from a single interface.
This demonstration reminded me of how dramatically things have progressed since the old days. 15 years ago, administrating users in this way meant a long, manual process. It would have required administrating Telco, a number database, an SBC, phone provisioning, individually adding user profiles and templates, and possibly some command line or server work.
To see the Teams platform come alive with just a few clicks and minimal effort, with all the tedious, manual processes essentially eliminated, was a testament to the great simplification we’ve achieved in the industry. While we can credit this accomplishment to the great individual and collective efforts of engineers, researchers, developers, and firms, it’s fair to say that none of it would be possible without the cloud.
Looking ahead to the future: What’s next
How will the AI of the future shape our messaging platforms?
Will meeting assistant bots reduce workloads for PMs, or optimize meetings by taking notes for us and highlighting the most important aspects of a discussion?
Will room automation improve the way we schedule and streamline the way we use the workspace (assuming we find compelling reasons to physically visit the office in the new world of work?)
LeapXpert aims to solve some of these issues by improving how we connect these technologies. By breaking down the barriers across platforms and simplifying workflows that require us to work outside the enterprise, we’re exploring how to help our end users maximize value out of the ever-expanding suite of communication and collaboration tools in their tech stacks.
We emphasize a more compliant and universally acceptable device policy that bridges the mobile world of personal devices and applications with the business world of IT, Security, and Firewalls for a secure, supported experience.
As technology progresses, the line between personal mobile devices and business grows more and more blurry, and we’re already in a situation where one’s cell phone often becomes a de facto work tool (think keyless access to the office via a smartphone reader.)
With so many compliance and legal issues at play, especially in regulated industries such as banking, responsible messaging solutions like LeapXpert will become more and more crucial for protecting business’ reputations and bottom lines.
My biggest take-aways from the conference
CommsVNext gave me plenty to think about. After mulling it over, here are the points made during the conference which stand out the most in my mind.
- Unification is key. Long gone are the days when businesses utilize suites of tools that operate independently of each other. For collaboration solutions, it’s all about seamless integration and complementary platforms that are made to work together.
- The foundation has been laid. Thanks to the cloud, along with the tireless efforts of brilliant R&D and engineering teams, we now have a solid basis to continue consolidating, simplifying, and streamlining collaboration tools.
- Flexibility and adaptability are mission critical. For both businesses and solutions providers, stagnancy is a killer. Organizations need to embrace the tools that enhance productivity and help them make the most of the tools they already have. Technology and app providers need to look to the future and design products that will still be functional in a few years’ time, as technology and business needs change.
It’s clear that communication and collaboration technology has come a long, long way in the last decade. My colleagues at LeapXpert and I are thrilled to see what’s coming next.
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