2016 is starting to wind down, and we’re looking to the New Year. I recently caught up with our cofounders Steve Kokinos and Derek Yoo to share predictions for where business communications is headed in 2017 and beyond. Three main themes surfaced.
While big data isn’t something new, more companies will discover even more questions they can answer with big data techniques. What has historically been practiced by companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook is now spreading to enterprise departments and startup vendors, often in domains other than the more traditional finance silo. Enterprises are storing increasing amounts of data which can be analyzed in real time for non-obvious insights in areas as diverse as sales execution, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and more.
This democratization of big data is due in large part to the very sophisticated big data infrastructure that is now commonly available, often as open source software, which in turn is being packaged into easily consumable services by cloud vendors such as Amazon. These cloud data services make it very easy to create applications that process, store, and query very large amounts of data with minimal upfront investment.
As an example, at Fuze we are using this type of approach to look at large volumes of communications data structured as a graph, similar to what you can do with a social network. By looking at the enterprise communications graph, we can start to answer questions such as which new sales reps are most likely to become productive, which customer interactions need to be reviewed by a manager for quality, and which key employees are flight risks.
In our consumer lives, we all expect a certain experience, and our business applications are finally catching up. In 2017, we’ll see a big move toward modern user experiences that redefine how people interact at work, leading them to work in new ways. Over time, the tools will move from the spotlight, eliminating the need for people to choose how they want to communicate and collaborate. Instead, it will be about how teams throughout the organization leverage data and incorporate insights from across the app ecosystem to make smarter decisions for the company.
2017 will bring even more consolidation within the industry. It will become more challenging for vendors to focus in on any of the core elements individually within the UCaaS market as stakeholders redefine expectations for what is considered a complete offering. A common view has surfaced: think voice, video, messaging, and beyond all in one application. Think voice, video, messaging, and beyond all in one application.
Today, everyone pretty much agrees on the standard definition of UCaaS, which is that it is the combination of voice, video, and messaging in a single cloud platform. Using this definition of UCaaS, we can make sense of a lot of the consolidations in 2016, and consolidations that we can expect to continue in 2017. UCaaS vendors are either organically developing or acquiring new technologies to build out their product portfolios to match this definition of UCaaS.