2013 was certainly a challenging year for businesses, as they tried to manage the pressures to adapt to rising and surfacing technology trends, whilst juggling the changing demands of both customers and their own employees. However, for us, there were three key trends and developments that really stood out as creating opportunities for us and our partners:
The rise of the hyper-connected workforce
2013 saw significant changes in employee expectations of communications. According to OfCom’s Communications Market Report 2013, smartphone ownership has doubled in the last two years, and that of tablets has more than doubled in the past year alone. We have rapidly become a hyper connected generation with a desire to communicate anytime and anywhere, and this has had significant effects on the workplace also, evident through rising trends such as the consumerisation of IT, BYOD and BYOA.
Our work for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games is a great example of this trend manifesting itself. Approximately 75,000 spectators are expected to visit the park each day, each carrying two or three devices. This will place unprecedented demands on the network, requiring a secure and robust infrastructure that is capable of carrying vast amounts of data and is able to cope with huge spikes in traffic. However, regardless of the scale and size of the project these are challenges that organisations of all sizes face.
In order to accommodate this, everyday businesses must be ready to put in place a clear and effective strategy that will enable them to meet the needs of this demanding and rapidly changing workforce. Indeed, in terms of the network and the opportunity for our partners, businesses will come to realise in 2014 that relying on existing and often mature networks will limit their ability to serve this workforce.
Businesses began to realise the benefits of Video as a real cost-saving tool
Perhaps one of the most talked about communications technologies; video has been rising up the agenda for some time now, and in 2013 we really started to see businesses realising the cost and productivity benefits of video solutions.
Consequently, video is now very much moving into the mainstream thanks to more advanced hardware; employee hunger for collaboration; more sophisticated networks; and more interoperability. The move from audio-only conferencing to video is a natural one for most business to make, especially as point-to-point video has become a commodity item for most of us. Video conferencing solutions are now accessible and affordable, and we’ve been hearing from our partners that the advantages of lower travel costs and higher productivity are grabbing the attention of more and more customers.
Our work with SPAR UK, the successful convenience store chain, this year very much exemplifies this. The company needed a reliable, scalable, collaborative video solution to ensure that employees across all seven business units were able to communicate effectively without losing time and money travelling to meetings, and chose Avaya’s Scopia solution to deliver this.
Working with our partner, Videonations, SPAR UK saw an immediate return on that investment, having reduced both time and money spent on meetings. 2014 will continue to see through this democratisation of video and will open up new revenue streams for us and our channel community.
The contact centre adapted to the next generation
The rise of this hyper-connected generation has also impacted the contact centre in a major way. Consumers now use social media and other new channels to contact companies and expect outstanding customer service regardless of the platform they choose. The customer service industry is changing, and has already changed dramatically as a result. Businesses need to have the capability to allow customers to move seamlessly from one channel to another, without losing the thread of the interaction and provide a consistent service across all channels.
Accordingly, in 2013 we saw companies really looking to the contact centre to find ways to generate additional revenue without adding cost to the operation, as well as looking at how to automate more of the customer services model and drive more customers to self-service options. Thus, integration and application development has been a key area of growth, particularly as companies look to develop a customer service experience on new devices such as mobile applications, video or social networks.