VARinsights: 5 Benefits Of IoT For The 2020 Business Landscape

We’re living in a world that’s drowning in data.

Smartwatches and wearables track our steps and monitor our health. The smartphones that we use every day are constantly sending information back and forth, keeping us linked to the internet. Even our homes and offices are more data driven, with the arrival of artificial intelligence and smart assistants.

Some of the data-driven insights that we glean from these new environments are beneficial to product makers, while others are helpful to the customer. Ultimately, however you look at it, we’re all moving into a more digital world, where everyone can enjoy a simpler, more connected day-to-day life.

The heart of this connected environment is the “Internet of Things”. The Internet of Things refers to a network of linked objects, tools, and pieces of software, that allow for better data management and innovation. With IoT devices, we can record and transfer data, monitor essential processes, access new insights, and more. Currently, the market for IoT is expected to reach a value of $520 by 2021. Here’s what IoT means to your business landscape.

A Better Understanding Of Your Customers

Probably one of the most significant benefits of IoT is that it offers companies new ways to understand their customer, client, or user. For instance, look at the smart home assistants that have become increasingly popular in our home spaces. Smart assistants answer your questions and help you to manage your day-to-day schedule. However, they also track important information about when people are most likely to shop online, and which products certain customers want, which is valuable information to manufacturers and business leaders.

IoT devices linked to beacons in the retail environment also can track how customers move around a store, and what sort of products they spend the most time with. This sends data back to the store manager about how products and deals need to be arranged to generate the best return on investment.

Ultimately, the more data a company can collect about their customer through each stage of the complex buyer journey, the easier it is for that organization to understand what convinces a client to buy something, what distracts them, and even what might encourage them to shop elsewhere. Put all that information together, and you get the secret recipe you need for better profits and sales.

Improved Customer Experience

At first glance, the access to extra information that we get from IoT innovations seems to be all about benefiting the business or enterprise. However, by tracking the customer journey and learning more about customers, we also can deliver a more immersive experience for every client. A smart refrigerator that tracks your usage can remind you when you need to buy milk and eggs as part of your next shopping trip. Your intelligent printer can inform you when you’re about to run out of ink, or let you know when a hardware or software error is impending so you can act fast.

The more businesses learn about their clients and the challenges they face each day through IoT, the more they can put solutions in place to help those customers. Even the healthcare industry is benefiting from the use of IoT in enhancing experience. For instance, the Toppan printing company in Japan designed an IoT-enhanced mattress that can sense the heart rate, temperature, and breathing patterns of the user. When the bed detects an issue, it can send an alert to a nurse through the Deltapath Acute app and ensure that the patient gets the care that they need as quickly as possible.

In the retail environment, the same technology could be used to automatically send alerts to customer service reps when a customer is detected wandering around the store, seemingly looking for assistance. You could even alert service representatives when your customers start searching for information on their phone when they’re in your store by connecting a brand app in on-premise beacons.

Significant Cost And Downtime Reductions

IoT technology doesn’t just give today’s modern businesses an insight into their customers. It also highlights how your company works from an internal perspective too. When you can see how people in your team are operating, and which tools you use the most often, you can begin to reduce things like operational expenditure, and even unplanned downtime.

For instance, in the manufacturing world, an IoT strategy could allow your tech team to keep track of all the machines on your manufacturing floor at once. When an issue is detected in the machine, like excess heat, or a reduction in production speed, your system would send automatic alerts to your pre-selected team members through a unified communication or messaging app.

The team members that need to check on the machines are instantly alerted, while your intelligent software lets you know which parts might need to be replaced in the future, so you can order equipment, and plan for downtime.

Productivity And Efficiency Gains

IoT solutions in the modern business space also allow companies to connect the key processes in their organization and therefore gain a more complete overview of their operations. When you have better visibility into your business, it’s easier to identify ways of improving productivity and efficiency. Experts even expect the use of Industrial IoT to improve company revenue by up to $154 million in the years ahead.

In Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly plant in Spain, the team members are currently using special suits equipped with body tracking sensor technology. This system helps to track worker movements and protect them from excessive stress and dangerous situations. The same tracking technology also can help to identify bottlenecks and problems in production lines.

IoT technology also can help business leaders to pinpoint areas in the business process cycle that might benefit from being automated. When repetitive tasks are taken over by machines, human team members can spend more of their time on creative and demanding challenges instead.

Opportunities For New Business Models

While many of the most obvious use cases for IoT revolve around the development of greater efficiency and productivity, we’re also seeing more companies experimenting with IoT as a way of searching for new methods of growth. For instance, internet-connected cars, trains, and even coffee machines can all feed information back to their operators and manufacturers. This information then offers insights into how the company can adapt its products for greater performance.

IoT brings new value to the business landscape by ensuring that companies can learn from every innovation that they invest in. Companies that effectively integrate IoT technology into the products can consistently find a way to benefit both their internal processes and their customers. IoT may even allow some companies to move away from conventional business models and into new revenue stream options, like subscription-based selling. Companies like Amazon have proven that customers are willing to pay a monthly subscription fee in exchange for faster delivery and better service.

Embracing The Benefits Of IoT And UC

IoT is emerging as an exciting new technology in the business landscape. However, this innovation can’t accomplish much on its own. Connected devices are great, but it’s only when these devices link to your communication strategies and keep your team members informed that you can start to notice a change in your operations.

If you want to embrace the future of technology in your organization, you need not just IoT but also unified communications.

For many forward-thinking enterprises, exploring the opportunities offered by IoT will begin with making sure that you have the right communication and technology standards in place to keep your team members engaged, empowered, and informed. The future of technology isn’t just about person-to-person connections or machine-to-machine conversations. People, processes, and things all need to work seamlessly together to facilitate a brighter tomorrow.

In the future, it will be the internet of everything, inspired by the internet of things, that will have the biggest impact on our businesses. The Internet of Everything (IoE) combines people, processes, data, and machines to make networked connections more valuable. IoE turns information into actionable insights, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities for business. All that starts with the right connected communication.

VARinsights: What Is Enterprise Instant Messaging And Why Does It Matter?

Instant messaging was once the sole domain of the consumer landscape.

We used tools like AIM and MSN messenger in the very earliest days of online communication to connect with people around the world. As the internet evolved, our tools for instantaneous messaging transformed too and we began to explore new opportunities like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram direct messaging.

Gradually, companies began to question why they couldn’t achieve the same convenient fast-paced communication in their careers that they got at home. After all, why should you be able to plan a family meal on WhatsApp in seconds, but have to spend forever waiting for emails so you can plan a business meeting?

Enterprise instant messaging is how companies can bring the convenience of consumer tools for quick communication into the business collaboration world.

What Is Enterprise Instant Messaging?

So, what is enterprise instant messaging?

Essentially, it’s an enhanced form of standard instant messaging, often with added security features and tools for policy management. Unlike a standard instant messaging tool, an enterprise service might feature things like audit and compliance capabilities, file sharing with a built-in virus scanner, and end-to-end encryption. With enterprise instant messaging, companies get the convenience of being able to talk to their colleagues in real-time, with the added privacy and security measures required to keep a corporation safe.

In a world where the email inbox has become a black hole for employee productivity, instant messaging is a useful alternative. Rather than having to worry about things like missing emails or complex threads between employees, businesses can create a real-time digital conversation in a secure, fast-paced environment. Leading tools like Deltapath enterprise instant messaging offer features such as:

  • auditing and compliance tools
  • group chat, one-on-one and broadcasting conversations
  • whitelists and blacklists for secure conversations
  • file sharing with built-in virus scanning
  • up to 256-bit encryption for messages
  • multi-device functionality
  • message recording and archiving

On top of that, with enterprise instant messaging, all conversations can happen instantly. There’s no need to wait around refreshing your email inbox or keep trying a number in the hope that someone will eventually pick up. Instant messaging allows for instant collaboration, anywhere.

Why Do Businesses Need Enterprise Instant Messaging Today?

While instant messaging has been around for quite some time now, it’s only recently that companies have begun to embrace the concept. Part of the reason for this is that consumer IM tools didn’t have the security and privacy settings required to ensure business compliance. The rise of new solutions for secure instant messaging has made the option more appealing to companies worldwide.

At the same time, another driver of the growing instant messaging market is the fact that the workforce is changing at a rapid pace. We’re living in a world where countless employees are constantly on the move. Some of your team members may be working remotely, whereas others may be front-line employees working in the field with customers. In a dynamic business environment, enterprise instant messaging helps to keep everyone connected and on the same page.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of instant messaging in the current landscape.

Instant Messaging Improves Productivity

Increasing employee productivity and business revenue are two of the biggest goals for any modern business. Unfortunately, when people are trying to find missing emails, or waiting around for phone calls, they can’t always be as productive as possible. To make matters worse, employees receive anywhere up to 304 emails to their inboxes each week – which gives them a lot of content to search through before they can find the information they need.

Studies suggest that replacing unproductive emails, lengthy email threads and other outdated modes of communication with enterprise instant messaging (EIM) could help companies to reclaim up to 12 hours of productivity per week for their employees. With the right instant messaging tools, team members can find out which of their colleagues are available to assist with an issue using presence features, then send a message in real-time. Instant messaging keeps the workplace flowing smoothly when speed is of the essence.

Instant Messaging Supports Company Culture

An instant messaging service also can allow today’s businesses to improve the connections between members of their teams. As we mentioned above, there are a lot of different generations and types of worker in the modern workplace. Not everyone on your staff roster will be available for weekly meetings and watercooler discussions with their peers. This can mean that company culture begins to suffer, as some employees feel as though they’re isolated from their team.

While team members can use emails and phone calls to reach out to their colleagues, an instant messaging thread can make people feel like they’re a part of an ongoing conversation – rather than just an afterthought. You can even combine your instant messaging services with video collaboration tools and audio conferencing to invite people throughout your team into regular digital sessions for team-building and bonding.

Instant Messaging Makes Knowledge Sharing Easy

For years, companies have relied almost exclusively on email, fax, and even direct mail to share files and important information with their colleagues. Unfortunately, this kind of knowledge sharing can often lead to informational silos in the workplace.

For instance, if you wanted to share a document with our team via email, you’d need to send that file to everyone through separate emails. There’s a good chance that one of those emails could end up getting lost, deleted, or even marked as spam before they hit your colleague’s inbox. What’s more, when your team member needs to find that information again, they need to go hunting through their inbox. On the other hand, with an instant messaging service, you can broadcast a message to your entire team, or send a file to multiple people at once.

Searching for files is easy using the in-built search function in your instant messaging tool, and you can even pin messages to conversations so that your employees don’t lose important details. In a world where time lost on searching for information equates to around $3,300 of lost productivity per employee, instant messaging can have a huge impact on your company’s efficiency.

Instant Messaging Could Improve Customer Experiences

Finally, investing in enterprise instant messaging as part of your unified communication strategy could also help you to improve the experiences that you give to your customers too. When your team members can work more efficiently and collaboratively together, solving problems becomes a much faster and simpler experience. Your users will be able to find out who’s online in their team and send messages asking for help when they need it instantly. This leads to quick results for your customers who might be waiting for assistance on the other end of a phone line.

Some instant messaging applications can even be expanded so that you can connect with your customers through instant messaging too. This means that instead of having to send you an email or make a phone call when they have a problem, your clients have another, quicker way to get in touch with your service team. Instant messaging isn’t just a tool for in-office collaboration and internal communication, it also can be a solution for:

  • Customer service: Today’s clients do everything they can to avoid picking up a phone. Offering instant messaging as a form of communication could differentiate you from your competition.
  • Sales: When your customers want to make a purchase, they may prefer to use an instant messaging service instead of giving their details over the phone.
  • Gaining customer feedback: Giving your customers access to information could provide them with an easy way to review your products and services.

Time To Transform Your Messaging Experience?

Enterprise instant messaging is just one part of a comprehensive strategy for high-quality unified communications. However, as businesses strive to find new ways of improving their productivity, efficiency, and revenues, EIM could have a lot to offer.

A secure and reliable instant messaging tool will give your customers a quick way to reach your team, while also providing your employees with the convenient solutions they need to collaborate. Discover the benefits of enterprise instant messaging for your business today.

VARinsights: Exploring The Advantages Of Video Conferencing In Your UC Strategy

Is it time for your business to discover the advantages of video conferencing?

For a long time, video communication (VC) was a difficult concept for many businesses to embrace. Expensive technology and comprehensive maintenance and provisioning requirements meant that only the most significant brands could afford video. Now, we’re living in a world where video is becoming more accessible and more affordable every day. You already carry a video device in your pocket most days.

The rise of video as a convenient mode of communication has helped vendors to explore new opportunities with this technology. In the years to come, experts predict that video conferencing will become just as popular as solutions like VoIP (Voice over IP), allowing people to just as easily choose between voice or video for their calls.

As unified communication strategies continue to take over the world, aligning various components of communication and collaboration into a single environment, video seems to be a natural part of the future business ecosystem. One recent study found that employees demand and crave an environment where they can access email, telephony, and video in the same location.

So, what are the benefits of video conferencing in the workplace, and how can you unlock them for your team?

Enabling The Digital Workplace

It’s no secret that the workforce is evolving.

Experts suggest that 50 percent of U.S. employees will be working remotely by this time next year (2020). The rise of cloud technology and mobile communication means that work is no longer a place we go to, but something that we do. Video supports this concept by allowing companies to create more immersive and collaborative cultural environments, even in a time when staff members may not be located in the same office.

Video conferencing software helps teams dispersed across the world to maintain human connections, regardless of their physical location. This speeds up decision making, improves productivity, and reduces the risk of misunderstandings common in email and voice. In many circumstances, facial nuances and body language can deliver a more complete message between workers, particularly in an environment where team members are often on-the-go.

Ultimately, video maximizes your human resources, allowing for greater engagement and productivity, regardless of where your staff might be.

Driving Greater Efficiency

Much of the importance of video conferencing comes from the fact that our conversations are frequently supported by visual cues. It’s not always possible to explain a complex idea to someone through text or audio alone. Because of this, the advantages of video conferencing can allow businesses to give staff members a greater degree of context to bolster their conversations. With demonstrations, display mockups, and even face-to-face interactions, communication becomes more accurate and efficient.

As the technology available for video conferencing continues to evolve, driven by technology like 5G for lag-free connections and 4K resolution, video could be the easiest way for teams to communicate. Far more immersive than a standard audio conversation, video allows teams to mimic face-to-face interactions at a distance, without the need for expensive travel.

With video conferencing, organizations can bring their remote workers face-to-face with in-office employees, boosting productivity on both sides. As your company continues to evolve, video could even open the door for better work/life balance, by making sure that people can communicate well, without having to compromise on their personal schedule requirements.

Increased Employee Satisfaction And Engagement

Countless studies confirm that happier; healthier employees are more productive than their counterparts. Video communication helps on both sides. On the one hand, frequent travel can take an emotional and physical toll on your employees – even if that travel is just associated with commuting to and from work. Recent studies have begun to find that commuting every day can significantly harm a staff member’s wellbeing, health, and productivity levels.

The longer the commute, the worse the side effects become. That’s one of the reasons why telecommuting is on the rise. Working remotely allows individuals to get their work done without visiting the office. Video conferencing can help to support remote workers by giving them a way to stay connected to the rest of the company and feel like part of the team.

Another way that VC improves employee engagement and satisfaction, is by making sure that on-the-field and in-office workers can get the assistance they need more quickly and effectively. Imagine an employee was having issues troubleshooting an electrical problem in the field, it would be much more suitable for this individual to get immediate assistance through a video call with a colleague who could see the issue firsthand and easily lead the field worker step by step in solving the problem instead of communicating by email, text, or voice.

Better Customer/Client Experience

It’s not just your staff members that benefit from video conferencing either – it’s your customers and clients too. With mobile video contact centers, companies can create flexible and immersive strategies for connecting with their clients on the channel that suits them. Mobile contact centers ensure that your employees have the freedom to work on-the-go, while the advent of video ensures that you’ll always be able to build a more personalized relationship with customers.

Imagine a customer for a healthcare company called a mobile doctor for instance, looking for advice. A mobile contact center would allow the business to transfer that call to the right doctor, at the right time, wherever the doctor might be. What’s more, because the doctor and patient can both access video through their mobile devices, they can connect face-to-face.

Video in this situation is an excellent way to put the patient’s mind at ease with a human touch. Moreover, patients can still feel like they are maintaining a patient/doctor relationship. Eye contact, a smile, and even a few facial expressions help to build relationships between human beings. Additionally, video would also mean that patients could show doctors their injuries or provide other visual information to help the professional make a more accurate decision about what to do next.

It’s not just the healthcare industry that can see the benefits of video conferencing in the workplace. Making insurance claims is easier and less stressful when an individual can actually show damage to a car during a video call. They can start the claim, assess your well being at the same time, and connect you to a video or audio call with your loved one to help in your emotional health. Any company that can deliver a better experience to customers from a face-to-face conversation will see the results of increased client satisfaction.

It’s Good For The Environment

Your green initiative might not be the first thing you consider when you’re looking at the importance of video conferencing. However, many companies today are beginning to realize that if they want to connect with their audience, they need to invest in the things that those people care about. With video conferencing, you can significantly reduce the amount you travel for a face-to-face conversations, less travel means smaller carbon footprint, and that leads to less pollution.

Additionally, video conferencing also can reduce the reliance that your business has on in-person meetings, which gets rid of paper, ink, and plastic waste. Some companies even find that by providing their employees with video tools, they can move to a smaller office where only some of their team members attend work in-person. This reduces the impact on the environment by taking up less real estate and using less energy each day.

You’re not just saving the environment with the advantages of video conferencing; you could be saving money too. Studies have found that businesses with more than $1 billion in annual revenue can achieve a return on their investment within 15 months of implementing video.

Adding Video To The UC Environment

While the benefits of video conferencing in the workplace are significant, it’s important to remember that the rise of video doesn’t mean the end of audio calls. Indeed, video conferencing still requires exceptional audio quality to ensure that you can make the most out of your communication strategy.

A lot of people in the modern workplace get so caught up looking at things like picture quality and streaming speeds, that they forget to place the right investment into their audio tools as well. However, even with the best picture quality, your teams will have a hard time communicating if you can’t rely on your audio quality. At Deltapath, we’ve made sure that our clients don’t have to compromise on audio to access excellent video. Our collaboration with Dolby voice, experts in sound quality, means that you can take both your audio and video conferences to the next level and enjoy crystal clear audio with video. Dolby Voice, a technology that delivers lifelike clarity and nuance while suppressing background noise, is integrated into our end-to-end solution.

What’s more, because Dolby Voice collaboration extends to our mobile applications, we can ensure that businesses can continue to access the same fantastic quality of sound and video whether they’re in the office or on the move.

When you’re exploring the benefits of video for your business, make sure that you consider the importance of combining your video strategy with the rest of your communication initiatives. That’s what it means to truly add video into the UC environment. By itself, video conferencing isn’t enough to transform your workplace. However, when it comes as a complete package for communication and collaboration that your team members can access with ease, you’ll start to see and enjoy the benefits.

VARinsights: What’s Driving The UC Market?

The unified communications market has evolved drastically in recent years.

Collaboration has arrived as a crucial consideration for back-end connections, while businesses of all sizes struggle to serve their customers with exceptional front-end experiences. Vendors are beginning to explore the advantages of the cloud for delivering more customizable packages while companies explore the opportunities offered by AI, automation, and machine learning.

In 2018, the marketplace hit a turning point, driven by consolidation, rapid innovation, and a shift toward more connected teams in an increasingly diverse working environment. In 2019, the demand intuitive UC is greater than ever. The UC market is set to be worth $167.1 billion by 2025.

So, what exactly is pushing this industry forward?

What Are Unified Communications?

Unified Communications (UC) is a technology strategy that combines multiple systems, such as video, voice, instant messaging, and content sharing into a central platform.

With Unified Communications, businesses can reduce costs in a variety of ways. They can enjoy hard savings by consolidating phone lines and experience free calls within the organization while expensive cross-country trips can be replaced by video calls. Organizations can also benefit from soft savings such as improved productivity by integrating critical business applications with a single communication platform so the right data is relayed to the right person at the right time, which also allows employees to work from anywhere.

Other benefits of UC include:

  • Better security thanks to reduced shadow IT: With UC, employees can operate over a secure and approved environment, regardless of whether they prefer to use voice, messaging, or video. This means that they’re less likely to use unapproved tools.
  • Improved productivity: When your employees can access all of the tools they need in the same environment, this reduces time waste and confusion.
  • Streamlined collaboration: UC keeps the people in your team connected through screen and file sharing, video, voice, and instant messaging.
  • Enhanced customer experience: Unified communication allows businesses to connect with customers on the channel of their choosing, leading to a better overall interaction.

Many of the trends in UC have been driven by specific concerns from today’s customers, including the rising demand for strong customer experiences, the need for increased security, and the opportunities of automation. Here are the biggest changes we’ve noticed.

1. Unified Communications Moves Into The Cloud

This isn’t the first year that companies have begun to consider the advantages of unified communications on the cloud. However, 2018 marked a turning point in UC history when Nemertes discovered that 67 percent of organizations are now managing at least part of their UCC stack in the cloud. A third of respondents said that their strategy is completely cloud-based.

The options available for cloud-based UC are varied. Some larger companies rely on custom-build hosted services delivered via hybrid vendors. Smaller companies, on the other hand, may prefer the UCaaS environment, where many UC demands are managed on your behalf by your vendor. This reduces the amount of IT support you need in-house.

2. Artificial Intelligence Changes The Ecosystem

Another major change that we’ve seen in the last couple of years is the rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace. Once the concept of sci-fi movies and novels, artificial intelligence is now a common part of the way that we communicate. Countless contact centers even rely on machine learning tools to make sure that they’re routing calls to the agents who are best-suited to serve their needs.

The right AI offering can provide a range of benefits in today’s business landscape. Your AI system could conduct predictive analytics to find out how people are responding to your business in the wider context of the industry. Some companies are also using AI to automate repetitive tasks that might overwhelm staff members and stop them from focusing on more relevant jobs.

3. Collaboration Improves Employee Engagement

Trends in the Unified Communication space aren’t just changing the way that businesses interact with their customers. They’re also making a difference to the way that staff members communicate each day. According to the study by Nemertes mentioned above, around half of all companies are currently using team collaboration applications.

These collaboration tools allow people in your workforce to communicate and work together in real-time, using file sharing, screen sharing, videos, push-to-talk, and more. Importantly, because these apps are hosted on the cloud, team members can access them whenever and wherever they need to – even when they’re on the go.

4. Security Remains A Significant Concern

Security always has been a common concern for companies in the evolving business landscape. You need to ensure that your customers feel safe when they’re buying your products or services. Moving through 2019, we’ve seen more companies than ever before embracing UCC strategies that include things like auditing, monitoring, encryption, firewalls, and application gateways.

Concerns around security will become even more significant as businesses continue to look at things like Big Data and analytics to help them make informed decisions. Additionally, the rise of BYOD (Bring your device) which allows employees to use their own phones and tablets in the workplace represents some great opportunities, but it may also lead to some additional security concerns too.

5. The Omnichannel Experience Evolves

On the backend of the workplace, employees have been using various tools to connect with each other for years. We’ve relied on video conferencing for face-to-face interactions at a distance, instant messaging, voice, and even screen sharing. However, it’s only recently that businesses have begun to understand how important it is to give customers that wide range of choices too.

Today’s consumers want to be able to connect with businesses through the medium that they feel most comfortable in. This might mean starting conversations over social media, or launching a video call, depending on the situation. Crucially, the different communication channels that businesses offer also need to be aligned. This means that the agent needs to be able to access context about a customer’s previous conversations on any channel, regardless of where they reach out. An aligned omni-channel experience leads to a more seamless journey for the customer.

6. UC Becomes More DIY

Finally, in a world where customer needs are more diverse and complicated than ever, businesses can’t afford to settle for one-size-fits-all packages of communication and collaboration tools. Instead, organizations are looking for opportunities to extend and upgrade their communication experiences according to their individual needs.

APIs and SDKs that allow businesses to build communication capabilities into their existing processes are becoming increasingly common with the rise of CPaaS. Additionally, many UC providers are also strengthening their relationships with other businesses so that they can expand functionality through integrations too.

What’s Next For Unified Communications?

We’re more than halfway through the year, and 2019 has been an incredibly exciting year for unified communications. With even more innovation on the horizon in the form of things like natural language processing, AR and VR, and even Edge computing, it’s safe to say that 2020 is sure to have a lot of incredible opportunities to offer too.

One thing is certain — Unified Communications should be a crucial part of anyone’s comms strategy today.