As 2019 draws to a close, we begin to consider what the new year might have in store for business leaders. We hear from a number of experts who offer their suggestions about the trends they expect to develop in 2020.
Josh Flinn, Director of Product Strategy and Innovation at Cybera
“2020 will be the year that we see Digital Transformation move from being a widely used marketing term, to becoming something that makes a tangible impact on business. The IoT is the chief driver of this. Businesses will increasingly take advantage of the wide array of connected devices, super-fast connectivity speeds and seamless security to deliver personalised and optimised experiences for their customers.”
Richard Buxton, Head of Collaboration at Node4
“The video-centricity of UC has been growing steadily for the past few years and this practice has now become widely deployed in enterprises, not just as a means of social communication. However, it is unlikely that, even in 2020, the days of people hiding from in-room cameras or putting post-it notes over their laptop webcams are over just yet.
“A focus on work mobility is something that is driving change with real momentum, with attitudes towards mobile working becoming more positive and many organisations now encouraging people to work from anywhere. This has been and will continue to be enabled by collaboration solutions such as softphone, rich media meetings, video conferencing and platforms that provide seamless transfer of communications between different devices and varying channels.
“The surge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also continue to make an impact on the industry and AI will increasingly become ingrained in businesses UC technology processes across all industries. This is especially prevalent when it comes to customer contact as businesses now understand that AI can help to improve customer experience by quickly and reliably providing appropriate information to their customers utilising things like sentiment tracking. This can also provide rich analytics to help determine how well the contact centre is performing and how engaged their customers are across the entire omnichannel environment. We will also start to see more tools emerging that use facial recognition to identify who is in a meeting and provide relevant information about the participants using cognitive collaboration.”
Jeff Keyes, Director of Product Marketing at Plutora
“2020 is when the reality of autonomous teams is going to hit. The majority of enterprises are changing their software development organisations to have durable, multi-year-funded, 2-pizza sized teams that have transformed from project oriented to real product teams. These teams are self-directed with high level goals that they will implement iteration after iteration. That transformation is going to be even more pronounced in 2020.
“Managing risk, compliance and governance will create friction to their success. If you want an analogy, this isn’t all that different than giving car keys to a teenager. The goal is that we have to get teams to a place so that they can act autonomously but they don’t do damage to anyone else they are sharing the roadways with. We want everyone to drive on their own – and now is the time when we actually figure out how to make it happen. While Agile practices help solve problems in planning, new problems arise around GRC and activity coordination between teams. Agile practices alone can’t solve these problems but rather a system’s approach dealing with Agile and DevOps practices enable the product teams of the future. Product management will expand in caring not only about the features they deliver, but the efficiency of the software factory that produces them.”
Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO and Co-Founder at Content Guru
“We’ve heard a great deal in recent years about the predicted downfall of voice communication channels, but what we’re seeing now is in fact the complete opposite. The resurgence of voice-led interactions driven by home assistants and the fact that customers still overwhelmingly prefer to speak to another human for important queries, is ushering in a new Golden Age of Voice. I believe that 2020 will be the year Natural Language Processing (NLP) steps out of the Proof of Concept (PoC) stage and goes mainstream in the UC industry.
“Over the past year or so, NLP has cemented itself as a tool that opens up unprecedented insight into voice data, especially in the contact centre scenario. The results are far richer than those gleaned from the metadata analysis we have been restricted to until recently and a much larger quantity of data can be analysed.
“Advancements in sentiment tracking will be the next big step for NLP in the UC space and will continue to pave the way for monumental gains in the UC industry in 2020. This is where a sophisticated mix of keywords, tone of voice and volume to create a much deeper picture of the caller and their needs, helping to ensure the most vulnerable customers are prioritised and all enquiries are dealt with far more efficiently.”
Ziv Kedem, CEO at Zerto
“Today, we are living in an environment where we’re experiencing increased intensity and frequency of hurricanes, forest fires and other natural disasters, we’re also seeing an increased focus on infrastructure stability. This increased focus usually involves looking into the solidity of roads, bridges, dams, hospitals, water systems and more, but in today’s digital world, network and technology infrastructure resilience needs to be a major part of the conversation as well. Internet access and data centre operations are critical to community recovery efforts, and ensuring resilience on the IT side of infrastructure also has the added benefit of protecting against damaging effects of other digital disasters, like ransomware.”
Jeff Ready, CEO at Scale Computing
“For a long time, the conversation around Edge Computing has been focused on hitting the right buzz words without actually addressing the customer’s needs. Everyone has forgotten that the customer’s objectives don’t revolve around the latest technology; what they care about is that their applications are online and working correctly. When catering to these businesses in 2020, technology partners have to remember to think about their needs and wants versus what’s currently trending among IT professionals.
“Edge Computing is about running mission critical applications outside the data centre. Full stop. There are varying use cases, workloads and needs within that envelope, but at the root of the issue is the need to run applications somewhere other than the cloud or data centre. Customers want a simple solution equipped with the right technology to manage their IT and decrease the two biggest costs affecting IT departments: downtime and people.
“While IT professionals are concerned with the conveniences of data centres, customers care more about how physical size, noise and power consumption will affect the quality of their business and productivity. In 2020, businesses offering Edge solutions should worry less about marketing and focus on what Edge Computing actually is – delivering the solutions your customers really want.”
Eltjo Hofstee, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK
“The colocation industry will continue to grow, particularly in the enterprise space as more organisations migrate IT infrastructures to the cloud. IT start-ups and scale-ups nowadays start in the cloud from day one, but are also pushing the colocation market. This expansion is being driven to a large extent by cloud service providers who still require a space to host their systems – after all, even virtual servers need a home. Businesses that subscribe to cloud and hosting services involving a colocation environment are inadvertently using colocation more, even if they might not be aware of it. We see this as a key contributing factor to the overall development of the global colocation market, particularly in the short and medium term.”
Surya Varanasi, CTO of StorCentric, parent company of Nexsan
“Businesses have been moving to the cloud for primary and archive/DR storage for a long time. In 2020, on-premises storage, whether for active or standby, will see a comeback – especially as customers are hit with cloud-use bills that are dramatically higher than originally anticipated.
“In 2020, to be successful and provide value to the business, enterprise IT will need to be able to straddle the worlds of the cloud and on-premises storage. Software solutions that enable swift mobility between these two domains will become increasingly critical. Only via this bi-model model will IT be able to achieve the highest performance, scalability and capabilities, as well as the safest retention, at the most cost-effective price.”
Lindsay Notwell, SVP, 5G Strategy and Global Carrier Operations at Cradlepoint
“2020 will see 5G rollouts accelerate globally, but super-fast (>1Gbps) speeds will, for the most part, be limited to Millimeter Wave (mmWave) deployments, which will have limited reach and will primarily be restricted to urban cores and specific venues, such as sporting stadiums. The good news for enterprises is that Gigabit-Class LTE is fairly ubiquitous and provides broad reach and very respectable speeds, often reaching into the hundreds of megabits per second, which satisfies most use case requirements. This allows companies to trial next-generation, disruptive applications, yet still gain the benefits that wireless (cellular) WAN delivers, providing freedom of time and place.”