At a glance:
- Video conferencing security will switch to Zero Trust
- AI will become our personal assistants
- SMBs will use AI to provide enterprise-level customer service
- Virtual meetings will overtake in-person meetings
- Workers will revolt against too much monitoring
- Business leaders will train bots
Nothing sparks innovation like necessity. So when you consider the many upheavals we’ve faced over the last two years—pandemic pivots, the expansion of mobile and touchless solutions, a complete shift in the definition of work—it should come as no big surprise that we’re also in a golden era of innovation.
Cloud communications, in particular, evolved substantially in the last few years. Tools like video conferencing, team messaging, and cloud telephony were once only nice-to-haves. Now they’re necessities—must-haves for every company.
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We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible with cloud communications. Hybrid and remote work is accelerating fast. New technologies like AI and voice biometrics are entering the scene. This begs the question: What’s next for cloud communications?
- Zeus Kerravala, Principal at ZK Research
- Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst at COMMfusion
- Jim Lundy, Founder and CEO at Aragon Research
- Heather Hinton, CISO at RingCentral
At RingCentral Connect 2021, Heather Hinton, CISO at RingCentral, sat down with the industry’s top analysts to get their take.
Here are their six biggest predictions:
The early days of the internet were all about openness, with networks and apps all designed to connect to each other with minimal friction. And for a while that made sense.
But shifting more and more business operations to the cloud has created a new security imperative, and the best practice in the cloud flips the old approach to computing on its head.
Zero Trust approaches security from the opposite perspective. Rather than assuming that users and systems can be trusted, it assumes everyone and everything is a threat until proven otherwise. Extra layers of security and verification—such as requiring added steps for authentication—are added in.
As more sensitive conversations happen over video, the Zero Trust approach will become commonplace for video conferencing, with tools such as voice biometrics employed to authenticate meeting attendees.
We’ve all gotten used to telling Siri or Alexa to play a song or look up a phone number. But these are just superficial examples of how technology is stepping in to lend us a hand.
As AI becomes more sophisticated, and better integrated with cloud tools, it’ll become an essential assistant. But maybe not in the way you’re thinking.
Just like the best help, the beauty of AI is that it works in the background, learning to identify what you need before you even know you need it.
For cloud communications, this might include capabilities such as automated meeting summaries or sentiment analysis for phone agents that uses previous conversations with customers to identify phrases and responses that drive desired actions—and then recommends the right words to agents in real time.
While the capabilities of AI will be a boon for organizations of all sizes, they may be particularly impactful for small and medium businesses who lack the people and resources to operationalize customer service the way larger enterprises do.
AI is capable of connecting the dots much faster and more effectively than humans can—so for smaller organizations just struggling to keep up with queries, smarter capabilities can help optimize and scale service with minimal cost and effort.
At the start of the pandemic, video conferencing seemed like a poor replacement for the lively, dynamic sessions people were used to at work. We got used to them eventually—and with the rise of hybrid work, video conferencing is here to stay.
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But the video conferencing of today (and especially the ones of tomorrow) won’t bear much resemblance to those early versions. Here at RingCentral, for example, we’re constantly looking at new ways to make virtual meetings smarter and better, with new features to boost engagement, accessibility, and productivity in every session.
With enhancements such as live transcription, virtual whiteboards, intuitive meeting controls for hosts, and the ability to join meetings from anywhere and everywhere, the virtual meeting experience is eclipsing meeting in person.
The combination of remote work and the tracking capabilities of cloud solutions might cause privacy concerns among workers.
With cloud tools, companies will be able to gain all sorts of visibility into what happens when people work remotely, including insights into when they work or even how engaged they are in meetings.
But just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean you should measure it. Workplace researchers have long recognized that trust is critical to employee engagement and performance. Over-monitoring, meanwhile, sends the opposite message, and creates the risk of potential worker backlash.
If you’ve ever dealt with an annoying chatbot that couldn’t even figure out what you were asking, then you’ve experienced the problem of poorly implemented AI.
Bots have many benefits, but just like humans, they need training to refine and improve their performance. This will require some hands-on assistance from business leaders—for example, reviewing bot conversations with customers and teaching the bots which responses yield the best results.
Leading the cloud communications movement
At the end of the day, one thing is certain: cloud communications has a lot of room to grow. That’s true here at RingCentral as well.
We’re already building out the next generation of communications: voice biometrics in our phone and contact center solutions, and artificial intelligence in our video conferencing solution. And as those technologies evolve, our users will always have the latest and greatest in cloud communications.
Joining this analyst thought leader discussion, moderated by RingCentral’s Heather Hinton, was a unique opportunity to capture the spirit of innovation and look at the future of communications.
These experts have their finger on the pulse of what’s coming next, and it’s clear to me that cloud communications and collaboration will continue to focus on employee and customer needs, with an emphasis around intelligence through AI and bots, and greater security demands that will be addressed through Zero Trust approaches and biometric data capture.
I look forward to seeing how the future evolves and how the predictions pan out.
A special thank you to all of our analysts at RingCentral Connect 2021. Keep an eye out for our upcoming features, and check out our latest ones below.
Watch the analyst session on demand:
Originally published Dec 01, 2021, updated Nov 03, 2023