What will communication and collaboration look like in 2021?

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Whether you’re a business leader, a contact centre agent or a field worker, you’ve probably noticed that the workplace is changing. We’re not reliant on boardrooms for our group conversations anymore, and today’s employees don’t necessarily have to be in the office to be productive. The way we work and how we operate each day has evolved.

Now that 2019 is coming to an end, it’s a good time to look ahead into 2020 and consider how our environment is going to evolve going forward. Here are just some thoughts on what communication and collaboration will look like in 2020.

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1.    Video Meetings will Grow in Popularity

The market for video conferencing is growing at a rapid pace, with a CAGR of around 21.5% between 2018 and 2023. It’s easy to see why video is leading the way for the collaborative environments of tomorrow, particularly when you consider the fact that human beings retain more visual information than written or spoken data.

Not only do we engage with visual content more effectively, but video meetings also ensure that we can connect with our coworkers at a distance in a more immersive way. With video, users can access the benefits of things like face-to-face connections, body language and facial expressions, without being in the same room as their colleagues.

2.    Team Messaging Continues to Overwhelm Email

For years, one of the easiest ways to stay connected with in-office and remote employees was email. People could check their email correspondence on the move and send vital attachments over the internet. However, in today’s fast-paced environment, email is rarely the most reliable tool. Instead, companies are turning to real-time messaging solutions like RingCentral Glip.

Instant team messaging tools allow users to send content, files and even audio clips to their colleagues in real-time, making it easier to communicate seamlessly on-the-go. Team messaging is quickly emerging as the heart of most collaboration strategies, and this will continue in 2020 and beyond.

3.    The Office Space Evolves

The physical office environment has seen a lot of changes over the last couple of years, including a move towards more open-plan architecture. However, in 2020 we’re likely to see more companies changing their offices again as businesses continue to see how infrastructure and space can eat up costs. Real estate doesn’t come cheap, and businesses can seriously cut costs by switching permanent office spaces out for shared environments where multiple companies can use the same real-estate.

Shared office spaces are particularly valuable for companies that have remote workers who may not show up to the office some days. What’s more, shared office and remote working trends also appeal to the growing demand for wellbeing in the workplace. Business owners are quickly learning that if they want to attract the best talent, and retain their employees, they need to deliver a good working environment, complete with the option for flexible remote working.

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4.    Machines and People Work Closely Together

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been one of the biggest buzz terms in the communication and collaboration industries over the last couple of years. Since surveys found that consumers are often frustrated by their inability to get immediate answers to common questions, companies have been investing in more chatbots, AI-enhanced IVR systems, and digital assistants.

However, as companies will discover in 2020 and beyond, there’s more to artificial intelligence than tools for better customer experience. The right AI solutions can also improve user experience among team members too. Digital assistants that can automatically provide relevant information to team members when they’re working on customer issues can keep frustration to a minimum. Digital assistants could also automatically take notes in company conferences, translate the language of a person communicating from overseas, or provide automated transcriptions. Going forward, we’ll continue to discover new ways for machines and people to work seamlessly together.

5.    The Arrival of 5G Drives Better Connectivity

In recent years, the arrival of BYOD movements and other solutions for mobile work have helped individuals to embrace the value of completing tasks from their smartphones. This kind of functionality has been particularly useful for field workers, front-line employees and remote professionals too. As the number of people working away from the standard desk environment increases, the demand for stronger mobile connectivity will increase.

By 2020, Gartner forecasts that the number of networked devices will increase to 25 billion, supported by the rise of 5G connectivity. 5G connections will give businesses everywhere access to reduced latency, better connections and improved communication opportunities. 5G could alleviate many of the problems we see with things like network congestion and mobile costs today.

6.    Smartphones and Wearables Get Smarter

Finally, along with the introduction of 5G, there are other ways that the mobile landscape is likely to change in 2020. For instance, smartphones and wearable tech like glasses and watches could help tomorrow’s workers to traverse various kinds of reality for stronger interactions with their colleagues.

For instance, a field worker would be able to use tools like augmented reality and virtual reality to interact with information and colleagues as though he or she was standing in the office. Customer service agents could use virtual and augmented reality tools to guide a customer through the process of setting up a product or service with ease. The options are endless.

What’s Next for Communication and Collaboration?

Over the years, communication and collaboration tools have grown increasingly more impressive, with the introduction of everything from as-a-service platforms, to AI and cloud connectivity. Going forward, we’re likely to see an increase in things like UCaaS, CCaaS and other essential services, as well as the arrival of new trends like 5G, smartphones and team messaging.

Make sure that you’re ready for the next era of communication and collaboration trends – get in touch with RingCentral today.Learn more

Originally published Nov 21, 2019, updated Jan 16, 2023

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