What’s Ahead in 2019 for Unified Communications and Workstream Collaboration
The end of the year is both a time for reflection and an occasion to eagerly anticipate what the next 12 months will bring.
As we make our Unify Square predictions each year, we draw insights from our customer and partner interactions to identify the key trends that we see quickly gaining momentum throughout the industry. This year, we saw workstream collaboration (WSC) work its way into top enterprise conversations with Microsoft Teams and Slack standing tall.
While 2018 was a whirlwind, we’re already looking forward to 2019. Here’s our take on what to expect.
Five Industry Shifts We’re Monitoring for 2019
Workplace Communication Will Fundamentally Change
There’s been quite a few discussions on the relevance and importance of desktop phones. 2019 is poised to see desktop phones fade away, with video conferencing moving into the spotlight. As collaboration technologies like Microsoft Teams and Slack work their way into the enterprise, the growth of remote work will continue to climb, further expediting the desk phone demise.
Not only will remote work make the desktop phone a thing of the past, but it will also influence the need for managed service providers. Managed services are increasingly more important with distributed workforces to help maintain connectivity and collaboration.
Hybrid Will Remain as a Longer-Term “Norm”
Despite the pace of UC and WSC-centric SaaS focus and innovation, the process of weening enterprises, particularly with regards to telephony, off on-premises UC environments as well as cap-ex investments in room systems will become a three to six year trudge. While many SaaS vendors will continue to push migration to the cloud, IT teams should be prepared with a roadmap – and corresponding strategy and budget – for their overall realistic transformation.
End User Training Will Be Essential for Agile Digital Workplaces
The most productive and agile digital workplaces will empower employees by not just providing the technology, but the ongoing training and broader ecosystem of tools and resources necessary to help employees navigate the shift to a digital workplace. While workstream collaboration may seem to be end-user friendly, companies should still be prepared to offer training on everything from the differences in communicating via WSC as opposed to email, to document management in a WSC environment, to security and compliance. With data breaches popping up for many major companies, it will be crucial to teach employees not only how to use software, but how to use it securely.
Bundled Vendors Will Rival Standalone Best-in-Breed Vendors
Traditionally, vendors focus on enhancing and enticing new users with their core product offering, winning contracts simply by being “the best” – like Slack. With large UC players taking advantage of cloud services, these vendors are now bundling their services with new offerings. Bundled vendors like Microsoft are using key products to build interest for their free service, which they package (in this case) with the Office 365 stack.
With competition in the UC and workstream collaboration space picking up, bundled vendors will force standalone vendors to up their game and their offerings. As we saw earlier this year with Slack’s acquisition of Atlassian technology, Microsoft’s intent to purchase XOXCO, or even Facebook’s acquisition of Redkix, vendors are eating up smaller players to provide more robust services and features.
Shadow IT Comes into the Light Thanks to Workstream Collaboration
Shadow IT, or those outside of formal IT teams who deploy enterprise apps without explicit organizational approval, emerged as a larger theme in 2018 and will continue to grow in scope in 2019. IDC predicted that technology spending by shadow IT will overtake technology spending by the IT department in 2019. This rise in shadow IT for WSC will finally catalyze an IT philosophy shift for organizations to embrace, rather than shut down, shadow IT. The importance of building a culture where these new apps (or platforms) become sanctioned, secured and customized to meet the needs of a broader set of end users will become a major IT priority.