2016 has been a big year for collaboration and communication, here’s what’s in store for 2017

UK technology has been the main driving force behind the breakneck development and evolution in many industries in recent years. The way in which people work has fundamentally shifted because of technology and it is largely driven by efficiency. Employees largely dictate this change, rather than IT departments who now have less say on what tools or systems are the best for business. Workers are seeking a simplistic, holistic experience of their working life - which is shaping up to be an extension of their personal style of interaction and communication.

A large part of this change is being delivered by the rapid adoption and deployment of cloud services, it's no surprise then that Google, Amazon and Microsoft are investing so heavily into cloud service delivery platforms like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

As a result of recent technology trends being driven by the millennial workforce, clubbed with other factors like economic pressures, globalisation, disruptive entrants into existing markets, IT departments are being forced to offer tools of a seamless working experience for employees.

With this in mind, here are five predictions for collaboration and communication software in 2017. 

CIOs will be buying into the customer experience and not the technology

In the past few years we’ve heard a lot of talk about the millennial workforce and the technology which has been developed to provide the functionality they’re used to with consumer apps. While consumer mobile apps are not perfect, they compete for attention in an environment where only the best survive so the user experience of the successful ones tends to be pretty good. The challenge for businesses next year is to bring that same range of experiences into the work lives of their employees, both on the go and at their desks.

In 2017, CIOs will be buying communication solutions with a focus on experiences rather than technology; removing distinctions between communication, collaboration and productivity. Workplace communication and collaboration tools in the cloud will be made to create a unified and consistent experience across multiple devices, moving businesses away from a siloed approach to communications.

Video calling will become the de facto for one-to-one and one-to-many communications

Video has been a primary method of communication for meeting rooms or conferencing for some time now; however, for one-to-one communication, instant messaging or voice is still the first option for many. With the continued improvements in connectivity, introduction of unedited video in social media through products like Facebook Live and the adoption of collaboration tools with a video first approach, we have started to see a change in the way video communication is used. 

In 2017, it is likely that video will become an ever more important way for businesses to interact with each other, particularly with peer-to-peer tools, overtaking voice and instant messaging as the de facto for communication.

Collaboration takes the lead in Unified Communications as a Service category

The mass adoption of collaboration software has been one of the biggest business communications trends in 2016. In 2017, we will see customers prioritising the features and capabilities of collaboration tools above more traditional components such as voice, when considering unified communications systems. 

Businesses will look for new tools, like Slack and Glip, and expect a cloud PBX and voice to be part of it, rather than the other way around as it has been so far. Being able to provide a collaboration first approach to selling communication software will be a primary requirement for any channel reseller or technology vendor. 

As cloud matures, data management policies will become the most important security factor for businesses

With the maturation of commercial services and a reduction in high profile hacks, businesses are beginning to have more faith in data security in the cloud. With the question marks around the security of the cloud being answered, we have now started to see a lot of cloud action in the enterprise upmarket space. 

In 2017, this activity will no doubt lead to a focus on data management policies, with businesses needing to establish how different people internally and externally can access a set or subset of data, how access can be revoked, the visibility of the data and development into management tools for the IT department.

Platform-as-a-Service to emerge as the go-to solution for enterprise level communications

Enterprises will provide a more integrated experience to end users across multiple services, including communications, leading to an emerging trend which will be known as Platform as a Service. 

As more businesses explore platform-as-a-service, standalone unified communications as a service solutions will become less prevalent. Instead customers will need their unified communications systems to be empowered with open APIs to enable businesses to modify the service and integrate the communication capabilities with other systems like Netsuite, homegrown CRMs and HR management solutions. 

Sahil Rekhi, Managing Director of RingCentral EMEA
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