Communication Trends from 2016: The Year of Unified Communications

Ever used the teensy white lie that you didn't get someone's voicemail, email, or chat message? With so many devices and communication trends popping up over the past few years, it's a very believable excuse. Yet with the rise of unified communications, one of the biggest communications trends of 2016, the days of people believing you magically missed messages could soon be over. Don't worry — the trade-off is worth it.

One Profile, Access from Multiple Devices

With unified communications, all of your devices are connected in the cloud, so you can make and receive calls, exchanges text messages, and collaborate via video regardless of which device you're using — without being interrupted or having to switch devices. No matter which device you're on, the person you're calling or messaging has no idea whether you're at the office, at your lake house, or standing in the lobby of a ski lodge. If you're on a personal phone or your daughter's tablet when you answer a video call, your customer will be none the wiser. This means you can get your work done wherever you are and however you choose to work.

For instance, real estate agents often work outside their offices as they show buyers homes, meet with clients, and answer questions from home in the evening. Their clients don't really care which devices they're on — they just want to get a hold of them. With a business phone system that supports cloud-based unified communications, buyers can simply call one number and real estate agents can answer using the nearest device. And, when buyers leave one of those precious "Hi, it's me again!" messages, agents don't have to get their daily exercise running around to check their home phone, mobile phone, and office voicemail. Instead of having to jot down a buyer's dream home wish list while listening to a voicemail in a restaurant lobby, the message can be automatically transcribed and emailed directly to you. You can even answer a call from your tablet while binge watching your latest show in the evening without having to get up from your comfy chair.

Lawyers and legal professionals can have the same benefits because they also work on-the-go in courthouses or client conference rooms. Any professionals who use multiple devices to connect with clients and colleagues can benefit from a UCaaS solution.

Making It Easy for Businesses, Organizations, and Schools to Text

Though businesses have embraced texting with customers for years, 2016 was a turning point for this service. Businesses that provide a text number for customers to get assistance are likely to see higher customer satisfaction rates. According to mHelpDesk, 80 percent of people are currently using texting for business, and 64 percent of consumers are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers texting as a service channel.

Many hotels are beginning to use text messaging, implementing unified communications to allow different staff members to respond to guest requests for everything from more towels to a late checkout.

The insurance industry is one where customers often have questions and urgent needs. For example, a customer standing sheepishly on the side of the road after giving the car in front of him a bumper-to-bumper love tap could definitely benefit from allowing customers to text their insurance providers so insurance agent on the other end can enter it into a cloud-integrated CRM to get in touch with the right representative.

Many teachers are also using apps to send group text messages to keep parents and students up-to-date with homework, projects, and quizzes. By combining this trend with unified communications, teachers can let everyone know the latest news from any device, whether they are sitting at their classroom desktop computer or watching their child play "everyone follow the ball around in a giant human blob" (aka soccer).

Getting Data from All the 'Things'

This year, the Internet of Things (IoT) went from an odd term only techies knew to the next big thing. Through the IoT, devices using sensors collect information that businesses and homeowners use to make decisions and control machines such as programmable thermostats. The uses for the IoT will continue to expand this year, especially in industries such as manufacturing. Plants will use IoT devices to monitor production lines, track shipments, and secure the premises. However, all of this new information means employees will have much more data to keep up with. By combining the IoT with a cloud-based unified communications solution, employees will be able to access the data they need anytime and from whatever device they're on.

It's been a big year for business communication trends, with the fundamental ways people send and receive communications beginning to change. By integrating all of today's trends and whatever is big in 2017 into a unified communications solution, everyone will have the information they need to do their job.

For more information on how unified communications can help your team, contact a Vonage Business representative.

Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Jennifer Goforth Gregory Contributor

Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

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