Trends in enterprise communication and collaboration (part 1): Five hot topics in user and meeting experience
Having entered a new decade 2020, it`s the perfect time to think about what the future may provide. Working for Unify, Atos` division and brand for enterprise communication & collaboration, the theme of my first blog in 2020 is about 5 hot topics in User & Meeting Experience.
Immersive meeting & conference experience
The importance of team collaboration & conferencing will increase as a key contribution to the global climate change challenge, saving carbon footprint and costs by reducing business travel and supporting Anywhere Working paradigms. Significant advances have been made, such as WebRTC collaboration applications having brought video to everybody`s enterprise desktop (which was available before only in dedicated physical conference rooms). Features like transcribing (speech to text and vice versa), translation (among different spoken languages) and capturing in real-time conferences and recordings exist as innovations and will become commodity soon. We will see 3D audio experience being added to virtual conferences in combination with corresponding visual conference room screen layouts. The physical world, captured and transmitted in a video conference or vertical video application as a stream, will be continuously digitally annotated, allowing for Augmented Reality (AR) experiences. Towards the end of the decade, fully Virtual Reality (VR) conference meetings, i.e. digital conference twins of a whole physical meeting room scenario, may be what we will see.
Digital assistants, controlled via your text or voice commands (aka. text or speech bots) will lead to a higher degree of automation also in enterprise communication & collaboration. While virtual assistants are almost commodity in call centers and in customer care (and likely also in your private living room at home – thanks to Alexa and Co.), digital assistants will enter further enterprise spaces. Previously only managers used to have human assistants. You are lucky, in the future, everybody will have his or her digital assistant! Think about a conference digital assistant, that will act for you as a human one would do. The range of digital conference assistant use cases is wide, from automatically capturing action items and meeting notes to checking for best follow up meeting date while you are still in the current meeting. Base technologies are there such as transcribing and natural language processing.
Analytics of your communication data
Data analytics portals, through which you have access to all your data in an analyzed manner will increasingly be demanded. Data Analytics will provide you with predictions and suggestions on how you can optimize your communication behavior. Machine learning (ML) techniques will help in data classification and prediction. The types of your communication data, subject to analytics, is covering all sorts of data you continuously generate using your communication platform. This includes your text, images/video, and audio data, as well as any kind of call, conversation, conference log data - in short, your communication data. Furthermore, self-adjustment of your collaboration client GUI, based on your personal preferences and past usages, will become a commodity - aka. extreme personalization.
Wearables - mobility beyond your smartphone
The smartphone has developed a lot, but we are still looking at a 5-inch screen for mobile application consumption, probably impairing your neck or your eyes by spending too much time on your little smartphone screen. Your smartphone in the new decade will not anymore be your single mobile device. Wearables will become the norm. Wearable form factors will range from smartwatches for sports, to industrial clients probably helmet integrated and AR or VR smart glasses equipped for remote service support, to clothing with smart materials containing IoT sensors measuring your body movements and providing you warnings if you are under risk hurting your back, to skin implants for user authentication. Besides offerings and developments in the area of smart glasses (AR, VR) known already from dedicated vertical innovation usages, research is ongoing in the area of new options for visual consumption of mobile services through AR or VR eye contact lenses. There is a wide, 360-degree area around you that waits for being used for projecting your visual data around you for visual mobile data consumption, rather than having to continue depending on tiny 5-inch smartphone screens.
Communication & collaboration is actually a horizontal discipline, all vertical businesses require. I estimate that 80% of the communication & collaboration platforms' capabilities are in common and are being used in any verticals. However, for making the difference for a distinct Vertical, a vendor will need to add the 20% Vertical specific requirements to his platform capabilities. For example, web accessibility according to W3C`s WCAG is being required first by the public sector, while industrial/experts clients (eventually with AR support) are being asked for first by manufacturing/remote service businesses. Wearables support may initially be driving innovation in healthcare, while for example Multi-factor Authentication security feature was driven from the financial/banking sector. This development of distinct verticals driving distinct features, applications, technologies, standards or certifications will continue, while other Verticals will take over those capabilities later.
The above 5 trends in enterprise communication & collaboration around user & conferencing experience will not be implemented as one-shot but will be a journey. A communication & collaboration platform vendor or operator will need to watch out carefully for (new) developments and will need to continuously prioritize and adopt. It will be about which trends can provide the most business value for the customers. Thus, vendors and operators will need to have their ears close to the market and customer demands in terms of selecting the most valuable use cases.
This blog provides the first part of a 2-blog series. Watch out for the second part, which talks about trends in the IT infrastructure area and how they relate to (or impact) enterprise communication & collaboration.