Unlocking anywhere working

Richard Evans, chief technology officer at Cinos, explains how channel partners can help reshape communications for the hybrid workplace.

This year we expect to see more anytime working. There has been much made of agile and remote working and this is set to continue but with a greater emphasis on the different elements that make up a remote worker persona.

Where the initial focus was on delivering communications to users working from home, this is broadening to include aspects such as security and the personal welfare of the user. For the channel, this means that organisations will look to buy tools and technologies based on user personas, and the ‘package’ of applications and services those users need to carry out their day-to-day job.

Supporting hybrid workers

We’re likely to see unified communications services teamed with secure remote access and omnichannel engagement – which can provide a seamless customer experience across multiple communication channels – alongside visibility from reporting and analytics coupled with wellbeing and personal insights’ information. This should all be presented in a simple, secure way to allow users to manage this transition to anytime working.

As users start being defined by their persona, so will the hardware package their employer puts together to support them. Telephone handsets and headsets, video endpoints, and home connectivity devices will become more and more commonplace as part of the hiring and onboarding of new staff.

Offices will become flexible shared workspaces, which users consume as and when they need to rather than simply attending 9-5. The amount of office space in England fell two per cent in the 12 months to 31st March last year, according to data from the Valuation Office Agency.

As more people make home their primary place of work, employees will most likely to go to the office for a specific reason such as a meeting. Pre-booking the resources required will be a necessity and so too will using the spaces and technology they need to perform that task. Beyond simply creating more huddle spaces, workplaces now become collaboration hubs, with services allowing staff to easily see what workspaces are available and book them. The employee can then walk into a workspace and enjoy a seamless meeting experience whatever service is used to bring in remote participants.

Analytics will also come to the fore by allowing proactive management of the collaboration spaces, showing adherence to maximum capacity for social distancing, measuring the ambience of the environment and supporting organisations in their environmental and sustainability initiatives.

The rise of omnichannel

Organisations have talked about this for a while, but we now find ourselves at the point where talk is turning into action. As staff are sent to work from home, so are customers and with that comes a new consumer approach to selecting and choosing the people you do business with.

Businesses must reach their customers through the channels they want to use, which is increasingly social and chat. More than simply offering multiple methods of communication, it is important for different interactions to be tied together as part of that customer’s single ‘journey’. The main growth this will cause will be within the automation space, with chatbot and virtual agents identifying those customers waiting in service queues who can self-serve or have trivial queries.

Channel partners need to have the agility to keep pace with change as it happens. Agile and hybrid working is driving continued growth in unified communications as a service (UCaaS) with the need for anywhere, anytime access to telephony, messaging, conferencing and omnichannel collaboration. Partners need to be able to help their customers simultaneously support their staff, customers and systems.

Compliance processes

There are other factors that we expect to become prominent this year, including the bridging of the compliance gaps. As more organisations transition to remote working, we’ll see the emergence of coverage gaps which can leave them open to compliance breaches and financial penalties. Mobile phone usage increases hugely in a remote working model, which often fall outside corporate reporting and recording jurisdiction. Voice and video recording, retention of and securing this data in line with corporate and industry regulations are areas organisations are now having to consider.

It’s likely that communications platform as a service (or CPaaS) will increase in demand and as will the ability of providers to span multiple application stacks and technologies whilst providing a consistent seamless experience. This means an increased need for partners to develop their managed service offerings, with a focus on customer and user experience.

Following a tumultuous 18 months, the market has seen a lot of change both in the way organisations work and the tools they have deployed to support customers and staff. Services with customer satisfaction and customer success at their core will be of most importance to ensure customers remain happy with the service they procure and are constantly getting the best return on investment from it.

This feature appeared in our March 2022 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.

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