Important Comms Trends for 2024 – Insider Lite

by Dave Michels

Instead of the annual prediction post, I’d like to share some trends in enterprise communications that I find exciting. 

2024 is occurring amid two major technical shifts. The pandemic changed expectations, preferences, and attitudes, and a new normal is emerging. Concurrently, generative AI will change human/computer interactions in significant ways. That backdrop makes the following trends, already visible, particularly interesting.

Insider Lite is the free email newsletter from TalkingPointz. The paid report is called the Insider Report and is published monthly. It contains an opined recap of the month’s industry news. The January Insider report, published in just over a week, has an exceptionally long section about leadership changes.

UCaaS Events: In-person events are returning but with ever larger digital components. Cisco, RingCentral, and Zoom have expanded virtual events to include physical events. Most UCaaS providers expanded into meetings and then webinars. Webinars more recently expanded into virtual events (hat tip to GoTo and MIcrosof), but physical events is a whole new set of challenges. What interests me is that physical events will likely get a lot better with an interactive app currently associated with virtual events. Vendor landscape changes occur when sectors converge. I figure the providers that get real-time streaming, break-out rooms, and polling will conquer badge printing faster than the other way around. A new report on events is about to be published for paid subscribers. 

The Hybrid Office: The modern office is smaller and has more shared, multi-purpose spaces than before. This requires new tools to manage the space – for IT, facilities, and employees. It’s a logical extension for UCaaS providers that already manage shared meeting rooms. This also touches on IoT, calendaring, and content. It’s essentially a new take on the old concept of hotdesking. I wrote more about this here

UCaaS Mobility 3.0: Enterprise voice and UC never quite knew what to do with the cellular phone. For lack of anything better, the mobile client and OTT made it a terrible endpoint. Not exactly intuitive to add a calling app to a phone. Meanwhile, smartphones and cellular networks got better and faster. A better option is available now – a smartphone with a native UCaaS number. OTT apps are becoming the new legacy device. Expect every major wireless provider and UCaaS provider to embrace this shift. 

Climate: What’s hot in comms? The Earth! Enterprise comms can be part of the climate and carbon solution. Obviously, telework can reduce emissions, but there’s more: providers are reducing emissions in their data centers, designing products with more sustainable materials, and providing better tools to track emissions and power consumption. The work is happening, but with little fanfare and attention as it remains a controversial topic in the US. Yet, the kitchen is getting hotter and ESG is going to become more central. 

CCaaS is dead; long live CX: As tech matures, we often rename it as an outcome (think video conferencing to collaboration). The contact center (equipment and service) has become dated. What really drives CX today are digital and AI. The drive to adopt digital, as obvious as it is, has really just begun, and there is even more confusion around AI. 

Many of us were first exposed to generative AI via a chatbot framework. Making matters worse, the CEO of OpenAI predicted that customer service agents would be the first group to be replaced by generative AI. So, it’s understandable why so many believe the contact center is ground zero for generative AI. It is not. While the contact center has seen incremental improvements, Microsoft has built a multi-billion dollar business in Copilots. 

Generative AI changes our approach to software. For the first time, we can tell computers what we want (outcomes) instead of what to do. These new intent-based interactions make computing more accessible. Software developers will be impacted more than call center agents. Generative AI will impact everyone who uses computers (which happens to include agents). Generative AI is a disruptive threat to the contact center industry, and some vendors will struggle and new entrants will move-in. So, yes disruptive, but not like most are thinking. 

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