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Are We at a Tipping Point for Cloud Communications?

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Expectations for cloud communications have been high for several years, and for good reason: Benefits include increased productivity, greater collaboration and lower costs, just to name a few.

Cloud adoption rates support the hype. Businesses have been moving steadily and consistently toward cloud-based unified communications, driven by their interest in SaaS. For example, in a recent survey of 800 CIOs, McKinsey found that 48% of large enterprises already have at least one project running with a large-capacity cloud provider, and they expect this percentage to rise to 80% by 2018.

Others see rapid cloud adoption as well. For example, Forrester predicts the global public cloud market will accelerate to $236 billion in 2020, up from $146 billion this year, as large enterprises embrace online computing solutions.

What other changes might cause cloud communications to tip in 2017? Let’s look at three trends that are showing strong momentum.

The Ubiquity of Mobile Workers

More than three-quarters of U.S. adults own a smartphone today, according to Pew Research Center, a development that has led to the untethering of workers from their office environment. With more employees easily accessible anytime and anywhere, the entire workplace is rapidly being reshaped.

This kind of mobility is putting significant pressure on business leaders, IT teams and managers to create virtual environments that simplify work regardless of where an employee happens to be at any given moment. We can expect more enterprises to embrace cloud communications this year to meet the needs of their mobile workforce.

AI and Chatbot Impact on Customer Experience

Artificial intelligence dominated the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, with products such as Amazon’s Echo built into a range of products. In the enterprise, the AI market is exploding, Marc Carrel-Billiard, managing director at Accenture Labs, told CRN. Soon, he says, “AI will become a first-class citizen of the enterprise.”

AI will play a large role in enhancing cloud communications in the form of chatbots. By leveraging customer data and analytic tools, AI-based technologies are likely to be deployed in contact centers and among sales teams to streamline and improve customer interactions. With businesses intensely focused on creating better customer experiences, we can expect substantial investments across all industries in this area.

Increasing Comfort with Cloud Security

Early adopters of UCaaS pointed to the need to reduce costs, increase productivity and implement new capabilities as key reasons to roll out cloud communications solutions. But concerns about security held others back.

Today, that worry appears to be fading. Nemertes Research sees the shift to the cloud accelerating in 2017, with about 40% of organizations using or planning to use cloud telephony services. One factor behind the trend: better security. In the study, 45% of participants said they viewed the cloud as being more secure than on-premises solutions. As it turns out, it’s harder and more expensive to manage threats against internal systems.

These three developments, along with maturing technologies, could mean cloud communications is ready for primetime. So – are we finally at our long-predicted tipping point? In our view, all signs to point to 2017 as the year all the hype becomes reality.

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