The Future of Unified Communications

By: Chris Darr
January 18, 2024

The past few years have seen the rise of robust cybersecurity tools as a necessity to combat rampant cybercrime. But these past few years have also proven the points many business software developers have been trying to make for years: 1) that poor communication is costing businesses a fortune every year, and 2) the fix to this complex problem is actually pretty simple — unified communications (UC).

As more businesses have adopted these solutions, and the top developers could therefore invest in making their software more competitive, a few trends have emerged. Here’s what to look for in 2024 and beyond…

5 Trends for Unified Communications in 2024

Team celebrating hard work

Once you go to UC, it’s pretty tough to go back. The thought of returning to an environment where a huge percentage of your day was spent unburying your email inbox and taking an hour or two to respond carefully (so your tone was clear), is a no-go. Not only are UC platforms capable of saving businesses the equivalent of additional full-time staff, but they are also capable of so much more, like reducing hierarchies, increasing morale, and boosting employee retention rates.

Here are ways that top UC platforms will continue to increase their value for organizations that jump on board…

1. More Accessibility and Inclusion

No matter what the articles say, remote and hybrid work isn’t going anywhere. And companies that dig in their heels about this are more likely to lose their top talent. UC tools make it easier than ever for companies to finally offer the accessibility and inclusivity that they’ve always talked about.

And there’s just no getting around this: In-person work is often more difficult for parents of young children and people with certain mental or physical disabilities. And women and people of color have clearly indicated that they feel working from home is far more comfortable and may be more advantageous to their careers. Unified communications platforms have a way of reducing traditional hierarchies in meetings and other unpleasant workplace experiences — like being talked over or having others take credit for your ideas.

Here are many ways these tools are doubling down on accessibility and inclusion now and moving forward:

  • Additional options for those with hearing, vision, mobility, or cognitive disabilities, including live captions, high contrast modes, and more
  • Real-time translation features to help meeting participants with different linguistic backgrounds
  • Nonverbal feedback options, like raised hands or thumbs up/down reactions
  • More options to accommodate different communication preferences

2. Video-First Communications

Teleconferencing is starting to replace the internal phone call, but there’s more. Expect more video voicemail and video meeting recordings to support asynchronous collaboration. People are getting used to video meetings, and while being on video can cause some anxiety and fatigue, in-person interactions aren’t always carefree either, and they never were. 

focus time

Presence indicators can be invaluable in allowing people to indicate if they’re available for a chat or if they need focus time. And some platforms have built-in features like virtual commutes, with relaxation techniques to help staff transition between different work modes. And meeting participants can always mute themselves, turn off their cameras, or turn off self-view so they don’t have to feel “always on.”

And let’s not forget about this one: With automated transcriptions, no one needs to take detailed notes for the group, so no one has to take on an additional mentally taxing and stressful task. 

3. Total Integration & Automation

UC platforms are getting tighter alignment with business workflows and existing tech stacks, and that’s going to save organizations tons of time. For example, many platforms already have prebuilt connectors to bots or integrate into popular business apps, like Salesforce and Microsoft 365. Some platforms also offer low/no-code workflow automation tools to automate more processes.

But perhaps the most futuristic thing we’re going to see more of over the next year is how artificial intelligence will allow natural voice commands to trigger complex workflows across multiple integrated business tools. 

4. AI-Driven Support & Analytics

The Office TV Show Meme depicting emotions that arise when time is not used adequately

AI capabilities are already handling noise reduction, background blurring, and connectivity testing, but in the future, you’ll also see more predictive and reactive support capabilities, and UC tools will help organizations gather more insights about what’s working well and what needs improvement.

Hear me out — some meetings just aren’t productive. They can go on too long, they can be boring, and they can be the thing employees dislike most about their day. And wouldn’t that be nice if your organization got helpful data that made it crystal clear which meetings should just be an email? 

5. Additional Capabilities and Security Considerations

Cybersecurity evolves in tandem with cybercrime, and as more hackers attempt to target businesses’ communication tools, UC developers are working on new and better ways of defeating them. Expect that providers will expand compliance with regional and industry-specific data protection laws and offer better access controls and data protection capabilities.


What Lies Ahead for Unified Communications? 

The future of Unified Communications

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex by Cisco are frequently listed in the “magic quadrant” by Gartner for unified communications as a service (UCaaS), but there are rumors of a merger between RingCentral and 8X8 (also listed in the quadrant). The strong demand for UC tools is expected to keep growing well into 2030, which I hope will fuel more solutions that reduce drudge work and make workplace communication feel a lot more intuitive and human. 


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Topics: Phone & Collaboration