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Top Four Predictions in 2020 for Unified Collaboration

Predictions in 2020

The year 2020 promises to usher in significant new developments in collaboration and communication. It’s part of an unending climb, moving higher on a logarithmic curve of progress. New technologies continue to demonstrate better ways of getting things done, with innovations both large and small. But the changes are not just technological. People, in a multigenerational wave, will substantially impact the future of work.

Prediction 1: AI enabled voice assistants will get more pervasive and more intelligent

Consumers are already used to telling their home automation device to do simple things like change the lighting or choose music to listen to, using a wakeword to activate the intelligence. Now, the same techniques are being readily accepted within the workplace.

Asking the room to cue up a PowerPoint presentation or to invite a person to a meeting allows the act of meeting and collaborating to stay focused on the topics and ideas. Increasingly the new year will see simple actions like logging in or calling a number, and more sophisticated ones like transcribing meeting minutes, automatically transcribe in Portuguese or French and automatically parsing the important points, becoming standard techniques of effective collaboration. Chatbots will increasingly take the place of people for resolution of queries and for guidance.

Expect to see many more examples of intelligent assistance triggered by human voice, to smooth the path of collaboration.

Prediction 2: AR and VR technology will further evolve in enabling video conferencing for training, telemedicine, etc.

We have seen telepresence in its early forms over the past two decades, but it is now coming into its own thanks to new technologies like 5G bandwidth for data, higher quality video, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence. Existing and emerging technologies now enable people to process and shape the visual imagery needed to work inside a scenario from a distance, or to train for a new skill. Telemedicine – from examining a patient to performing surgery – is now a reality. Technicians responsible for maintaining and repairing complex machinery are already using AR to replace manuals and books.

Conferencing and collaboration have also taken significant steps forward, away from audio-only teleconference speakers and dry-erase boards into an immersive world of telepresence, in which participants appear on screens with much more dimensional context including dynamic camera tracking and relevant informational labels like name, job and professional background.

Prediction 3: Location analytics will integrate with collaboration tools

The new year will also see an increase in location analytics. Sensors in the floor or ceiling can now make sense of data, physical space, and people. This means, for example, locating a currently empty meeting room and guiding you to it for a fast, ad hoc meeting without the need to book it and wait for it to become available. Below ground, it means finding parking spaces in crowded lots with ease.

This same technology can analyze traffic patterns and room usage. Short term benefits of this include adjusting lights and climate controls and alternative room assignments to match the number of people in the meeting. But longer-term benefits point to better analytics of room usage, enabling businesses to adjust the amount of space actually needed to operate without waste.

Prediction 4: The quad-generational workforce will blend its different work styles and workflows

As Forbes contributor Bernard Marr writes, “Thanks to mobile technology and readily available internet access, remote workers are already common. Employees won’t need to be in the same location. This will make it easier for the next generation of workers to choose to live anywhere, rather than find a job and then move to a city with that job.”

As they do so, they will be demanding more engaging and collaborative media with which to work.

Team and chat technology will replace email as a more seamless and immediate method of sharing thoughts and ideas in less formal, yet more organized multi-channel spaces.

Video communication for conference and chat will replace teleconferences and single-meeting room scenarios to better accommodate professionals who have grown up with FaceTime, YouTube, and Instagram, and whose world view is already visual and interactive.

Career mobility will influence hiring and employee engagement as awareness of the gig economy expands. Some experts, including McKinsey, predict that up to 50% of the workforce will be freelance by 2027, and momentum is already building. These same employees expect their employers to offer increased and personalized work-life balance opportunities, and for them to be transparent with their ethics and practices concerning the environment, social equality, and fiscal responsibility. They are part of the “audience of one” culture in which customer experience applies just as much to an employee as it does to a consumer. Millennials, whether freelance or not, will form 75% of the workforce by 2025.

The technology needed to please all the generations who together are riding this upward curve of progress will continue to evolve to become more intelligent, more interactive, more connected and more proactive throughout the next twelve months and beyond.

Wishing everyone of you a happy, healthy 2020!

By Aruna Ravichandran

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