What the Unified Communications Industry might look like in 2021

Recently over a ‘few drinks’ a colleague and I discussed what the UC industry might look like going forward and what technologies might be entering the business communications space. Business communications is changing fast and the vendor landscape is ripe for disruption, if you’ve got an opinion drop me a comment below.

  1. Virtual reality meeting rooms with augmented contextual display. Expect to see your colleagues working at their desk with VR goggles on.
  2. In-car UC – Powered by an AI virtual assistant – give your bot a name! We’re in an era of hyper-productivity and collaboration. (Which vendor will fully integrate with Tesla first I wonder?)
  3. AI Call Analytics – real-time analytics and task execution based on conversation and sentiment. A machine will be your company’s best board member.
  4. Invisible UC – wear your collaboration apps in your ear, your spectacles, wrist watch or implanted under your skin.
  5. Silent agents – as older generations fade contact centres will see voice calls replaced with bots and virtual assistants. Machines will replace humans have no fear.
  6. Phone numbers will be phased out. All you’ll need to know is someone’s email address or universal ID to communicate with them on any of their registered devices or apps. UC&C apps will have to inter-operate at some stage in the future, who will be first to make the move?
  7. There will be a slow decline in physical Endpoints: desktop IP Phones, hardware PBXs, curly cords and highly skilled PBX engineers will be replaced by software and simplicity. It’s likely that headset vendors like Plantronics will transition their portfolio into more types of wearables and implants powered by primarily software and AI (not sure the implants will be ready by 2021!).
  8. Microsoft will be the largest business communications and collaboration provider in the world by 2025 with their Teams app. Enough said?
  9. More leading video conferencing and contact centre vendors will be acquired by ambitious UC vendors and visa versa. Cloud CRM and other well-known SaaS vendors will also acquire communications and collaboration capabilities. Expect a very different Gartner Magic Quadrant in 2021, new faces and a consolidated vendor landscape.
  10. Evolving go-to-market (GTM) strategies will continue to disrupt legacy comms businesses. UC&C, video conferencing and contact center vendors will rely less on the classic reseller. They want value added service (VAS) providers, MSPs and system integrators. As the market gets more competitive and the search for differentiation and margin becomes harder, vendors will inevitably cut out the middle man.

Not sure whether all this will happen by 2021, but it does provide some insight in terms of where we might be heading.. I’ll probably pull this together into a blog post for UC Today, drop me some comments and i’ll do my best to include your predictions!

Unified Communications Market Guide