Talk to the Future – Emerging Trends in Corporate and Business Communication
Communication, whether we think so or not, is the fundamental base of business. That’s right! Much as we may wonder why an MBA student, a manager of tomorrow, or one working today, might need a strong base in communication, it is nevertheless an essential part of doing business as well as managing people. This is a vital fundamental element that connects and applies to every aspect of the business from customers, vendors, and partners, to employees – both on site and remote – to any number of other players and stakeholders that a business needs to stay in touch with (and communicate with) - 24/7.
More and more, in this age of information and digital access, communication has expanded from just talking at or to clients or customers base. A successful business of today, apart from the traditional function of keeping clients and customers informed and updated, must also be able to support remote teams working offsite or telecommuting from home, foster efficient collaboration amongst them and on site teams and workers, and do so much more… All within the realm of communication. That is, of course, if the business is interested in competing successfully, increasing its scale of operations, expand or set up branches, find and monetise new client segments, and reach out to a global market. None of these things will be feasible, in the slightest, without an organisation and managers well versed in efficient and effective business and corporate communication.
When IP telephony was first developed, less than a decade ago, it seemed like a quantum leap in business communication strategies and possibilities. In just a few years since then, we have moved light-years forward to technologies that enable people located at remote corners of the globe to “tele-meet” as if they were all in the same room! software as a service (SaaS), Unified Communications, and more, are the future. Whereas communication in the past was simply picking up a phone or making physical presentations, today even that has changed dramatically with ever newer technologies and ideas. As more organisations become heavily reliant on the internet to reach out, these trends are set for another sea change as well.
To stay relevant, then, an organisation, and the managers responsible for its efficient functioning and future success, must keep abreast of current industry trends, with an eye on what the future is likely to bring. As technology evolves, at blink-of-the-eye speeds, businesses and management professionals must be prepared to keep up and constantly update themselves to be able to maintain their competitive edge.
So, we might ask, what are the communication trends – specifically related to businesses or the corporate world – that are likely to become relevant and essential not just for brands but also for those seeking employment to remain relevant in this evolving global workspace.
- Increasing Mobility:workforces are far more mobile now than ever before in the history of the world. Workplaces need to catch up with this trend as well. As more employees demand flexible working conditions and telecommuting options, businesses and organisations need to realise that offering better workforce mobility options is going to be the major productivity enabler of the future. Not only does it open out the entire global workforce, where companies can retain talent with no need to worry about geographical locations or limitations, it offers employees a pick of organisations and gives them a better chance at an enhanced work-life balance. Happy employees are productive employees. Studies predict that remote employees are likely to comprise something like 75% of the US workforce by 2020, and the trend is only going to spread worldwide.
- Seamless Communication and Collaboration: The rise of workplace mobility and leaps in cloud technology are set to create more and more tools to enable workers to collaborate across platforms, across locations, for the same projects. Businesses will have to invest in platforms streamlining workplace communication and support better collaboration remotely.
- Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR): we are already familiar with some of the applications, as gamers and consumers, but in an increasingly information driven digitally hosted workplace, companies will begin to use these AR and VR technologies and methods for a host of other applications, from giving prospective employees a walkthrough of what it is really like to work for them, to taking customers and stakeholders on a virtual tour of new products or operations. Either way se look at it, AR/VR technologies are set for more significance than just games or novelty.
- Live Video Streaming: This is the age of streaming media. YouTube is passé, it is already all about the Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and what have you. Consumers, customers, stakeholders, partners, vendors, people of all age groups and across social and cultural demographics are turning to the personal feel of connection that streaming gives. To really feel brand authenticity, today and tomorrow, they will want to see, feel, renew their faith. Live video streaming technology will be one of the most important tools to build and maintain customer brand loyalty in an increasingly non-TV world. Data already shows that Facebook Live videos are currently viewed far more often, and for longer, than any other type of content. Customer connectivity in the future is definitely going to include a healthy dose of live video streaming and 360 degree videos.
- WebRTC: Web-based communication in real time allows a person or an organisation to run a live, effective, two-way video conference from within the internet browser. What this means is that there is no need to install other programs, plugins, or modules to be able to communicate effectively. Not only does this save data space, it is also a nice, user friendly, no-mess-no-fuss way to support all kinds of remote communication whether it is chat, or screen or content sharing, or audio visual communication, without having to fiddle with 10 different apps and passwords.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI based assistants Siri, Alexa, and their ilk have already made their presence felt. Working on voice requests, they search browsers and complete tasks within the overall functionality of the related mobile device. AI based software solutions are getting better and more efficient, practically on a daily basis, and taking on more and more complex tasks. There is an enormous upswing in successful AI based mobile applications functioning on machine learning as well as virtual neural networks. The future will see far more and complex types of such apps and technologies for effective business and remote communication, and may even stretch to actual virtual assistants capable of undertaking some parts of the daily duties of employees.
- Social Intranets: Innovation in this preexisting field of communication, and additional functionalities are set to provide comprehensive support for business video communication, merging chat rooms, and providing better and more advanced content exchange with no compromise on the quality of communication.
- Hosted VoIP: With close to one billion VoIP users globally, this technology has moved firmly from the geeky fringes into the center stage for future corporate communication. The landline is a fossil and will soon see a quiet demise, and VoIP – offering far greater flexibility, much better control, and exponential scalability is set to take over. Another advantage to the digitisation of telecommunications is that companies can now host and maintain a vast infrastructure and enormous amounts of information in the cloud. This is the reason why VoIP and related tools are increasingly available for integration with key business processes. Office 365 for Business, for example, provides complete integration with Skype. Businesses that choose to leverage Hosted VoIP as an effective way to minimise cost, maximise flexibility, and gain more efficient control of their communication systems will have the advantage of saving on costs and reduced maintenance needs and are likely to have a far sharper advantage in the future business world.
- BYOD Strategy: The only drawback of enhanced implementation of IP telephony processes has been that it originally did not allow employees or communication recipients to take use their own communication devices or to move around with them. In an increasingly restless world, vendors of network equipment realised the importance of offering the integration of IP tools with already owned user mobile devices. Making it simpler to transfer phonebook, redirect calls and email, and more, integration becomes a necessity for businesses operating in different time zones and with a lot of remote workers, and this Bring Your Own Device approach to technology means fewer offices and far lower overheads, and enables employees to telecommute. What, then, do these corporate and business communication trends for now and the future mean for the future employee, job seeker or manager? It is important to stay aware of, and keep up your competence levels with the technologies. Make sure you learn to work efficiently with any of these tools and from any device. As a decision maker think about how these available tools can optimise your company’s workforce and keep up not just with technology but also the etiquette of using these new business communication tools.