In 2020, the Customer will Drive the Evolution of Telecom

Guest post by By Dan Hastings, director of enterprise solutions at Flowroute, now part of Intrado

The year of 2019 proved just how influential customers could be in driving which technological advancements and trends succeeded in the enterprise communications space.

For example, changing customer preferences and advancements in communication technologies have propelled the progress and evolution of where telecom services are today. The cloud, for instance – due to its numerous benefits such as reduced costs and increased flexibility – thrived and shaped how decision-makers innovated enterprise telecom offerings in 2019.

Dan Hastings, director of enterprise solutions at Flowroute, now part of Intrado

In 2020, we anticipate the customer’s influence will only escalate, which will result in more businesses moving to cloud-based telecom solutions. As transformative technologies have emerged within the telecom space and empowered startups and new brands to break through and disrupt the market, the industry is no longer dominated by legacy telecom providers. This resulting diversity in providers and communications service offerings has been beneficial to both businesses and end-users. However, now key players are under more pressure to compete and stand out from one another. In 2020, we will see enterprises and providers alike seek out the latest technology to evolve their business models and cater to customer needs.   

Outlined below are three key telecom trends we anticipate will arise in 2020 as a result of emerging customer preferences in the industry.

  • An omnichannel-based approach to customer service will be essential.

It has been shown that customers are now increasingly using multiple touchpoints (i.e. apps, web, social media platforms, etc.) to interact with a brand before making a purchase decision. Previously, a brand could provide various contact methods to a customer and that would be enough to be considered a quality customer experience. Now, customers expect more options and for those touchpoints to be unified and interlinked to create a holistic user experience. In response, brands must now evaluate every point of service to ensure they provide a high-quality and cohesive user experience.

As a result of these expectations, we predict contact centers will refresh their strategies to adopt a more omnichannel “at the edge” approach in 2020. Specifically, an increasing number of contact centers will integrate cloud-based communication tools to ensure that customers can contact the business at every touchpoint and that these touchpoints build upon each other to provide a streamlined experience, instead of being disjointed.

A contact center that is built on an omnichannel at the edge communications model can provide an enhanced experience to the customer as it will have instantaneous access to the customer’s entire communication and purchase history with the company (i.e. direct messages with a representative on Twitter, emails with a third-party site, phone calls, etc.). This level of visibility for the customer and business will become critical in the coming year. Visibility will ensure that the contact center acts as another consistent channel in providing customers with a smooth experience. In addition, enhanced visibility will empower decision makers with data to make strategic investments to improve collaboration and service.

As competition for garnering a larger, more loyal customer base heats up in 2020, we envision an increasing number of businesses will invest in cloud-based telecom APIs to enhance their omnichannel communications to unify consumer touchpoints and improve customer experience.

  • As the distributed workforce grows, so will demand for global collaboration tools.

Working remotely is not just a popular phenomenon in the U.S. The shift toward more employees working remotely, instead of working from traditional brick and mortar company offices, is a worldwide movement.The size of the global remote workforce is continuing to increase with more than two-thirds of people around the world working away from an office at least once a week, according to researchers.

The impact of this changing workforce can be seen in businesses’ rising adoption of cloud-based collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack, which help employees stay connected no matter their location through real-time communications support and improved access to files. These tools provide numerous benefits to the businesses that deploy them, such as being cost-effective, user-friendly and requiring little to no maintenance.

In 2020, we anticipate this trend toward a larger distributed workforce and employees collaborating from various locations will strengthen the need for real-time voice and video communications capabilities. WebRTC, or Web Real-time Communication, will also increase in adoption among enterprises because this technology enables real-time voice and video communication over peer-to-peer connections. Additionally, WebRTC provides enhanced audio quality to personalize the virtual working experience between employees, which is critical when creating and maintaining positive corporate cultures. 

We predict businesses that adopt such global collaboration tools will be able to better compete in the global economy and remain relevant by catering to the expanding remote workforce. Further, we predict cloud-based communication service providers (CSPs) will build their international presence to offer these services for global businesses. 

  • The cloud will remain central to customer growth strategy.

Though businesses have been buzzing with cloud adoption, the cloud still offers ample untapped opportunity for CSPs in the new year. For example, the U.S. is one of the leading countries in the adoption of cloud-based communications, but only has a market penetration of 18 percent. As businesses continue to pursue increased market share this year, more will partner with cloud-based CSPs that will help them reach new target markets and optimize engagement through global IP-based services. Additionally, the momentum for the cloud will steadily build as enterprises grow their global presence to better meet customer needs.

To remain viable in the years to come, we predict CSPs will continue to pursue strategic partnerships with cloud providers that offer international capabilities – so they can enable customers and employees to collaborate in the global business network.

As the industry becomes more saturated with innovative communication service offerings, weakening the domination by legacy telecom providers, it will be global customers who will decide which telecom brands will succeed. We project businesses that adopt a customer-centric approach to their 2020 business initiatives and embrace the cloud, global collaboration tools and omnichannel communication strategies will be in an optimal position of power in the coming year.

About the Author

Daniel (Dan) Hastings is the director of enterprise solutions for Flowroute, now part of Intrado. He has more than two decades of management experience in the global IT and communications industries. Dan has a track record of transforming business relationships, building global teams and translating customer needs into technical solutions. In his current role, he manages diverse global and technical enterprise customer and vendor relationships.

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