Six business communication trends for 2016 you need to know about
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Much has been written recently about how startups in Silicon Valley are redefining the face of businesses and how we do business. While agile business practices, added transparency, and contractor-based staffing are still catching on, one change that unquestionably has taken hold already is the evolution of business communications.
Business communications is no longer exclusively the domain of office phones, faxes, emails, and letters. As a result of mobile technology, cloud services, and 4G LTE cellular networks that easily support streaming video, business communications now hardly resembles what it did even five years ago.
We are currently in the revolution, and there is still so much more to come. Here are the top six trends in business communications heading into 2016.
Mobile devices are supplanting desk phones
A big driver in the change of business communications is bring your own device (BYOD). Whether businesses like it or not, their employees come to work already armed with powerful communications devices in their pockets: their smartphones. The temptation to use these portable, familiar devices instead of the clunky office phone is irresistible, so business communications is shifting toward mobile in a hurry.
There’s still a place for business phone systems, but increasingly, these systems must integrate with BYOD and company-provided mobile devices because workers both in the field and at their desks are pivoting to their streamlined mobile devices instead of often clunky office systems.
Communications tools are increasingly web-based
Since business communications has shifted to mobile devices, a second evolution is the move toward web-based communication services as opposed to traditional on-premise solutions such as PBX systems and hardware-based video conferencing setups.
BYOD and mobile use is creating a heterogeneous computing environment where businesses can no longer rely on all employees having the same communications hardware or working from the same location, so naturally web-based communications platforms are finding higher levels of adoption. Systems such as those hosted by business VoIP and cloud-based email servers better adapt to this heterogeneous environment because all they require for access is a web browser.
Unified communications is becoming the norm
In general, phone and email aren’t the quickest way to communicate anymore, nor are they the choice method of communication. Now, what started as a consumer trend has spread to the business environment. Although initially a bit slow on the uptake, businesses are now embracing text, chat, video, file sharing, and screen sharing in addition to email and phone communications.
There are so many communication mediums to follow, however, that unified communications has arisen both as a response to the expanded range of communications options and as a solution to the overload that so many channels can create.
WebRTC use is on the rise
Combining the mobile, web-based, and unified communications trends, a further trend to look out for is the rise of WebRTC as a business communications platform.
WebRTC is an open standard for peer-to-peer unified communications that enables businesses to easily embed rich communications in apps and websites without plug-ins, hardware or proprietary technology.
Companies are adopting WebRTC as an easy, cost-effective method to deploying unified communications. Solutions such as Agora.io’s virtual network for WebRTC quality-of-experience assurance make the standard business-friendly.
The Internet of Things adds devices to the conversation
Machines have long been a staple of business, but 2016 is the year that they really start joining the conversation.
One of the big business communication trends for 2016 is the addition of connected devices to the communications landscape via the Internet-of-Things. These connected devices are starting to transmit real-time business data that employees use throughout the course of the work day and as systems develop, there will not only be one-way communications with machines, but more interactive business communications that involve these devices.
Secure communications takes centre stage
Protecting business communications was a lot easier when calls and document transmission were analog. Digital communications is less costly and has a lot to recommend itself, but security is not one of its virtues. Now that business communications is entirely digital, concerns about hacking and communications espionage are legitimate concerns.
At first businesses didn’t fully appreciate the challenge, and sensitive business information was routinely routed through insecure email systems and consumer video conferencing solutions that were not actually very secure. Now, unified communications and BYOD are business realities and security awareness is finally catching up with the technology.
The shift toward better security can be seen in communications standards such as WebRTC, which offers secure VoIP and unified communications connectivity right out of the box. This is a shift from earlier communication technologies that did not place security at the foundation of the solution.
While these are the trends for 2016, it might also be apt to call them the trends for the rest of the decade. These trends are driving the evolution in business communications today, and they will continue to play a significant role in the years to come. None of these trends are going away any time soon.
What trends do you think will be important in 2016? Let us know in the comments.
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