Times of crisis are often a trigger for change and innovation.
That’s certainly true for the global coronavirus pandemic which has been the catalyst for a mass transition to cloud technology and remote working.
Here at Toku, we’ve been thinking a lot about the trends that have arisen from the pandemic. Let’s face it - the new normal isn’t going to go away any time soon - even when Covid is under control.
For one thing, most of us will still be working from home in the foreseeable future. A Gartner survey revealed that 74% of CFOs plan to keep a significant amount of their employees working from home permanently.
As a result, businesses are rethinking things like:
- workplace environments
- employee collaboration
- performance management
For another, people have moved towards online shopping during the pandemic, as physical stores have closed their doors. Businesses are adjusting, with new strategies for customer engagement and seamless online and traditional communication channels.
If nothing has changed since last year, why would there be new trends this year? Well, in general, 2021 will see businesses optimising the digital systems that were hastily implemented in 2020 (Remember the mad scramble and confusion? We don’t. We’ve blocked it out.).
Let’s get a more detailed look at what the trends are for 2021, and how you can keep up with them.
1. Increased Video Conferencing & Remote Collaboration
Gartner predicts that the proportion of meetings held face-to-face will drop from 60% at the start of 2020, to just 25% by 2024.
Companies are looking for more secure, efficient, and convenient ways to communicate across any device and any location. For these reasons, 2021 will almost certainly see the continued rise of cloud-based video conferencing on desktop and mobile. We’ve definitely seen this trend at Toku.
In fact, video conferencing has become so pervasive that providers of collaboration and communications apps or plugins are continuously releasing new features to try and recreate the feeling and benefits of in-person meetings as closely as possible.
For example, many communication apps are looking for ways to enable more spontaneous conversations, as would happen during in-person meetings, by adding shoulder-tap or quick video and audio calls. The instantaneous nature of these cloud-based apps also allows teams to seamlessly engage in impromptu activities such as brainstorming sessions and virtual tea breaks, as well as more planned events such as team progress meetings and training sessions.
Encouraging instantaneous communication is good for collaboration and productivity. To achieve it, businesses need to ensure that they partner with a cloud comms provider that integrates business solutions with telephony systems. Which leads us nicely into the next trend.
2. Integration of Systems and Tools For Improved Customer Engagement
With more consumers using a variety of channels and different devices to access customer service these days, companies have to go digital or go home… you know what we mean.
Businesses are now three times more likely to carry out 80% or more of their customer interactions online.
This has opened the door to omnichannel support systems, in which different communication channels are seamlessly merged. In an omnichannel system, customer service staff can resolve queries and offer support through any channel the customer chooses, i.e.
- voice calls
- social media
- chat boxes
- instant messaging.
Omnichannel support is all about consistency. Consistency for both the customer and the business. To achieve consistency and continuity, many companies are setting up communication systems that integrate cloud telephony, CRM systems, contact centre services, and collaboration tools.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to keep up with this trend, as communication APIs make it much easier to integrate telephone systems with existing collaboration software and tools, without the need for extra hardware.
To find out more about how you can benefit by integrating your CRM and telephone services, check out our recent article here.
3. Optimising Cloud Applications
One trend that will continue to grow in 2021 is streamlining cloud applications and operations.
As companies adjust to the new digital workplace thrust upon them in 2020, they will be looking for ways to improve collaboration, reduce costs, strengthen security, and simplify operations, all the while trying to avoid redundancies.
Unified communications and UCaaS (unified communications as a service) will be a big growth area. UCaaS systems will help remote workers to connect and communicate from anywhere, using any device.
Without the need for any additional hardware or maintenance, they will also help to reduce costs. Moreover, the recurring subscription or individual licensing models of UCaaS allow managers to easily scale up or down as needed.
Businesses can avoid clunky implementations that are prone to failure by working directly with communications providers that have hybrid expertise - i.e. able to provide digital cloud services, but also integrate them with traditional communication channels.
For example, working with a provider such as Toku gives you the best of both worlds. We create and offer technical UCaaS solutions and also integrate them with existing communications systems. This means you get efficient cloud comms up and running quickly, with minimal disruption to your business and no extra hardware requirements.
4. Tighten Up Cybersecurity
The pandemic has seen an explosion in phishing attacks, where fraudsters lure people into clicking malicious links or sharing financial data. There has also been a rise in hackers exploiting software vulnerabilities, such as the high profile hacking of Zoom and Skype. Ransomware attacks are also becoming more prevalent.
Cybercriminals are exploiting the rise in remote working and preying on people’s fears and insecurities during a time of crisis. With employees accessing business systems from home WiFi connections, remote working poses some serious challenges when it comes to cybersecurity.
Companies can no longer rely on secure internal networks to safeguard sensitive information and data. To counteract these threats, businesses need to focus on patching software vulnerabilities, using secure communication channels, and increasing cybersecurity awareness among staff.
85% of survey respondents agree that cybersecurity is extremely important and is growing in importance since the pandemic. Therefore, businesses are investing heavily in security, management and analytic software to maximise remote worker productivity, as well as minimising cybersecurity threats.
The great thing about unifying your communications systems by integrating business tools with telephony is that you have more control over security, as remote employees filter their communications through your business systems and built-in security and antivirus capabilities.
5. Accelerate 5G Deployment
You must have heard the buzz about 5G in the media at the moment. Phone providers are promoting their latest 5G gadgets through targeted ads and marketing materials. There’s little doubt that 5G is going to be the “next big thing” in mobile communications.
But what is 5G exactly and how can it benefit you and your business?
5G enables more reliable and consistent connectivity than previous mobile technologies due to increased bandwidth. 5G can easily handle video conferencing and high performance digital collaboration tools, which really takes the work-from-anywhere movement to a whole new level.
Businesses are pinning their hopes on 5G to provide a mobile network that enables reliable communication and collaboration. 5G’s high speed connection, low latency, and Internet of Things compatibility (IoT) mean that companies are investing heavily in early adoption and deployment.
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Toku’s software helps companies like Decathlon, JCDecaux, Gojek, etc. to boost their customer engagement and collaboration in APAC.
To discover more about Toku’s trailblazing smart communication solutions, get in touch today.