Team collaboration, tech integrations, mobility, video, and WebRTC.
These are just some of the buzzwords modern small business owners should pay careful attention to this year.
Customers have become more demanding than ever. Employees are increasingly becoming mobile. Business partners want to stay in touch round-the-clock.
This also means the scale of business communications now goes beyond its usual scope. While it brings in opportunities never before imagined by new entrepreneurs, the challenge now is for business owners to cope and keep up.
Here are five (5) of the emerging communications trends SMBs should look into this 2018.
Video Conferencing Solutions
Although video has been used for communications since the 80s, it’s surprising to learn that it didn’t hit the mainstream until recently.
Video conferencing used to be an afterthought mainly because:
- it demanded higher network bandwidths and
- was prone to technical glitches
However, it’s becoming the medium of choice for many businesses. This is thanks to faster internet speeds, improved video compression, and higher display resolutions.
With next-generation video conferencing, it’s easier to conduct live meetings no matter where you are.
You can also improve your collaboration efforts with this. It’s a service that’s often bundled with screen sharing, file sharing, and chat features.
Some startups are continuously working on improving internal communications.
Not too long ago, the standard was to send out newsletters or email blasts every now and then. Employees can also opt for regular face-to-face meetings or phone calls if needed.
But today, it’s no longer enough to inform staff of office events through these means alone. There are new pain points to consider. For instance, some team members can’t hold face-to-face conversations, due to geographical constraints.
Nevertheless, they still want to get company updates and product change information ASAP. They still want to be productive even when they’re not on the phone or participating in a conference call.
Team messaging tools have definitely revolutionized modern office communications.
Because of this, through such tools, they are able to voice their insights or share new ideas when applicable.
These services revolutionized office communications. Aside from basic real-time chat, they have file sharing, task management, and even the simple emoticons. All these contribute to a more intuitive and streamlined workflow.
Small businesses are now recognizing the need to interconnect productivity tools and platforms.
For many, the easiest and most ideal way to approach this is through the integration of communications with other vital office apps.
Such integrations allow various cloud-based applications to exchange information. Software that benefit from this include the types used in sales, marketing, and customer support.
For instance, —
You can email any of your business contacts with just a single click from your mail program’s window. This is because your communications system and your corporate Outlook account are consolidated.
Emailing your business contacts can be done with just one click. You don’t even have to switch windows.
Integrating your phone system into your CRM service also makes things convenient. With it, customer information is instantly displayed on your CRM’s browser window whenever there’s an incoming call.
It’s still difficult for some small business owners to deal with customers whenever they’re on-the-go. This is true even with the mainstream adoption of VoIP.
Thankfully, leading providers made it possible to combine internet communications with mobile devices.
These days, users can redirect incoming calls, voicemail, and faxes to their smartphones with the right settings. Phonebooks and contacts can be shared regardless of device, time, or location.
They can also configure personal devices to accommodate traditional office desk phone functions. This gives employees the option to work from home or work remotely more often than before.
The advent of the WebRTC or Web Real-Time Communications protocol changed the way we communicate online. With it, organizations can enjoy video conferencing and collaboration capabilities using their internet browsers. They no longer need to install additional programs or browser plugins.
This emerging technology, poised to disrupt the industry, currently puts video at its forefront. That said, it also supports other remote two-way communications functions or tools like:
- screen sharing
- real-time chat
- document sharing
- and the like
Efficient communications is critical, especially for startups. The innovations listed above make that easier to achieve now more than ever.
Can you think of other trends modern small businesses are likely to follow this year? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published Jan 24, 2018, updated Aug 31, 2020