The past several years have seen an incredible evolution in the way businesses operate, including the way employees communicate, share ideas, and tackle new projects. Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) technologies have evolved from merely converging voice and data networks, into a business communication technology that allows workers to interact effectively from any location and on any device, in real-time. The enterprise communications infrastructure includes everything from audio, web, and video conferencing platforms, to telephony systems, email, messaging team collaboration solutions, and other productivity tools. To support employee demands for a more flexible work environment, UC platforms are also evolving to be more user-friendly and mobile-native. Today’s modern workforce also demands support for BYOD, as well as corporate devices.
Beyond next-gen, one-touch video conference capabilities or offering tools across all device environments, what’s next for collaboration in the modern enterprise? Breakthroughs in embedded communication tools, speech recognition software, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are shaping the next wave of collaborative application and UC&C services.
New announcements from the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google, Workplace by Facebook, and other tech leaders give us some insight into where enterprise collaboration is heading. Imagine getting to your desk and asking, ‘Hey, Alexa, what meetings do I have today?’ or ‘Who can help me with this marketing presentation?’ Or ‘What are my latest inventory numbers at the Phoenix warehouse?’ These are exactly the sort of natural language processing and voice-activated interactions Amazon is working on with its Alexa for Business offering. Amazon’s vision, as well as many others, is to extend enterprise collaboration further using speech recognition, natural language processing, and understanding technology, as well as AI. The idea is to let people ask questions in a very natural way to voice bots, at home or in the office, to stay organized and focused on the things that matter. Additionally, voice-activated UC systems could allow businesses to build APIs to extend the usefulness of the voice systems. By empowering employees to voice-manage calendars, start meetings, and notify IT of an issue, these AI-powered enterprise applications are blurring the lines between our consumer-centric world and the modern workplace.
As these new more sophisticated voice-activated collaboration tools are adopted, they will depend on new models, beyond the cloud, to support uninterrupted connectivity. Some experts call this next advancement of speech-recognition technology the embedded glue layer. It captures and processes the user’s voice or visual data locally, without dependence on the cloud. The on-device processing power allows for mission-critical voice tasks—where the user or enterprise security, privacy, and protection are required. (Information Week).
Some of today’s collaboration applications have limited functionality which can hold teams back from experiencing truly seamless communication. For instance, instead of having to open the CRM app, open your messaging app, and share your screen or send a link to update a record, what if you could IM a colleague directly from your CRM app? New embedded collaboration apps are making this workflow a reality, and in doing so, these capabilities have the potential to make teams much more productive. It’s the closest thing to working side-by-side in a remote working environment, which explains why so many companies are interested in the implications of embedded collaboration tools.
As the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” That adage certainly holds true in today’s digital workplace. Advancements around unified communication and collaboration technology are helping to enable information sharing and enhanced collaboration in ways we could not have imagined. As enterprises look to enhance communication across the office, and across countries and time zones, the future looks very exciting with collaboration applications that support in-place app integration for a more seamless and consumer-like user experience.
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