The Future of Business Communications
The future can be something to look forward to or something to fear. Fortunately, with technology, the future usually results in cooler and more advanced tech coming into the scene. But, what comes next and how big of a dent would it put on business communications as we know it?
We’ve come a long way from the first ever phone call made, in 1876. Advancements in voice technology have resulted in cheaper, faster, and higher quality voice communications, and I don’t expect this trend to end anytime soon. ISDN technology replaced slower and costly analogue, and IP has replaced ISDN for the exact same reasons. More businesses, especially in the UK, are currently making the switch to IP technologies, such as VoIP or SIP, due to BT planning to switch off their ISDN networks by 2025, so in the future, it will be no surprise that IP will become the most dominant network technology.
What’s next for voice is Cloud Telephony, completely cordless communications which is already on the rise, but with security as a concern and On-Premise Solutions being cheaper in the long-term, it makes the development of cheaper, faster and more secure Internet & Broadband even more important in the development of voice telephony.
I suspect a similar future in video telephony as with voice communications. Improvements in Internet & Broadband will lead to cheaper, faster and higher quality video calls. News about a smartphone with a holographic display (Source) and a strong recent push in virtual reality has led to widespread talk and excitement. Sure, these technologies are extremely cool and things we should all look forward to. However, I don’t believe they will provide a better service than what is available now, so their development won’t have as big of an impact as was expected on the way businesses communicate. I don’t think most businesses will spend more money for the luxury of more immersive face-to-face video calls, than to just take cheaper, regular video calls that already work well. However, improvement is inevitable and what business will see first will be higher quality voice calls with increased frames and reduced latency.
5G and Mobile Telephony
With fresh news about 5G, and rumoured to be released in 3 to 5 years, I expect mobile working to be widely introduced in businesses. 5G is expected to be no joke, being miles faster than 4G (download speeds of 1-20 Gbps compared to 4g’s 100 Mbps), we are talking about downloading a full HD film in seconds (Source). There is huge potential for 5G. By increasing data transfer and upload speeds, it will revolutionise mobile working and will ensure that remote voice and video telephony will deliver as good of a service as it does in the office. Even lower energy use will result in sensible pricing for 5G, making it even more convincing for use in businesses.
More powerful phone hardware will result in smartphones that are capable of creating a one-device society where even remote workers can confidently go on long trips with just their mobile device. Combining the development of powerful smartphones with 5G will result in very effective mobile working which is why I believe it will become more popularised with businesses.
With recent advancements in artificial intelligence technology, there is more demand for its development. Current A.I. technology, impressive as it is, is only just the beginning. Smarter, more intelligent A.I. is just around the corner and we are all familiar with the rumour that at some point, A.I. will take over certain jobs and tasks. In the next 10 years, I believe we will start to see A.I. interact with customers, such as in Live Chat Boxes.
CleverBot is a great example and fun experiment you can try right now. It is a website where you ‘talk’ to an A.I. by typing, as you would in a Live Chat Box. At times, it’s obvious that basic A.I. is talking to you, but sometimes what you get back is convincing, as if a human is on the other end. This is just early A.I. that learns from past human interaction, so what you get back is something that another person has probably said to it. Deepmind, an artificial intelligence company owned by Google had recently released a blog article saying they are in the process of developing A.I. that can think like a human, by taking into account a situation, the actions it can take, the consequences of each action and make a decision out of all these factors (Source). There is huge potential for A.I. and it is clear to see how it can be used in both business and everyday life.
However, I believe that if we were to see A.I. anywhere in the next 5-10 years, it would be with giant companies who are already in the process of developing A.I., such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. There is still a long way to go for the majority of businesses to see A.I. in its current state as an alternative to a person, of course, this will definitely change in the future.
It’s clear that advancements in internet and broadband are important for advancements in Voice and video communications, and mobile telephony will be taken more seriously once 5G is released. As for Artificial Intelligence, it still has a long way to go for it to become advanced enough to be comfortably used commercially as a contact point between a customer and a business. Whatever the future holds, businesses should be excited and should keep one ear out for news about technology and how it can shape their business.
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