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Wednesday, 19 January 2022 11:33

Seven trends on your radar in 2022

By Peter Eldon, sales and marketing director, Access4
Access4 sales and marketing director Peter Eldon Access4 sales and marketing director Peter Eldon

GUEST OPINION: After a year marred by disruption and uncertainty, Australian businesses in 2022 are now turning their attention to what the next 12 months has in store.

When it comes to technology, 2022 promises to be a period of significant change. Some trends that emerged during the past year will continue to evolve while new ones will be added to the mix.

The top trends to watch include:

Ongoing uncertainty

Just as business conditions during 2021 were uncharted territory, unfortunately 2022 is going to bring more of the same. Continuing disruptions and the emergence of new viral strains will make long-term planning very challenging.

That said, it's important businesses ensure they have the components in place that will allow them to operate under such conditions. Flexibility and a willingness to change things at short notice will be critical.

Many businesses are likely to already have in place the tools required in these circumstances while others will have work to do. For example, telephony systems will be needed that allow people to communicate as effectively from home as they do in the office.

Hybrid workplaces are here to stay

While working from home remains the norm, it will be a hybrid approach that is seen more often during the new year. Staff will find themselves working from home for a portion of the week and travelling to a central office for the remainder.

For this reason, businesses will have to ensure they are equipped to manage these hybrid working patterns. Pods of desks are likely to be replaced with additional meeting and collaboration spaces. They will also need to be equipped with video conferencing equipment that allows remote workers to join sessions with office-base colleagues.

Telephony systems will also have to evolve so that people can make and receive calls to their office number regardless of their physical location. To achieve this, cloud-based platforms and softphones are likely to become much more widely used.

Davide Iacovitti, director of operations at Access4 partner Wevo, says "we believe that hybrid working conditions will continue to remain in place and flourish in 2022. Businesses will not only need to provide basic working tools, but enhance their staff productivity through simple to use and secure unified communications and collaboration toolsets coupled with in home secure networking and hardware options that seamlessly integrate. To measure and monitor staff engagement in this hybrid working environment, businesses will be looking to add powerful reporting, analytics and engagement tools to provide realtime feedback on employees and performance."

The rise of artificial intelligence

AI attracted significant attention during 2021 and this will increase further during 2022. This rapidly evolving technology will be seen in everything from process automation tools to sentiment analysis software that can judge the mood of callers to a contact centre.

Rather than replacing human beings, AI will thus become an enabler which helps them to be more effective at their roles. Expect its usage to rise throughout the year.

To cloud or not to cloud

The benefits of cloud platforms are well understood, but now attention is shifting to the different types of clouds on offer and how they should be best added to an organisation's infrastructure.

Clearly, public cloud platforms have their role to play, but they're unable to deliver everything that businesses require. Also, not all applications have been designed to operate effectively in the cloud.

During 2022, take time to evaluate which cloud platforms are right for your business and whether any adjustments need to be made to what is currently in place. Such analysis could result in significant performance improvements and cost reductions.

Increasing integration of telephony and CRM

More businesses will begin to understand the significant benefits that can be derived from integrating their telephony and CRM platforms. This, in turn, will result in improved customer experiences as the details of previous interactions will be available each time they make contact with the business.

William Gibb, director of technology at Access4 partner Viatek, says "Our clients are telling us that a fully integrated communications tool for phone calls, collaboration and video conferencing is, and has been, the most critical tool that have helped them manage and communicate with their customers and their team members."

Continuing development of omni-channel communications

Different customers like to interact with businesses in different ways. Those businesses that enjoy the strongest growth during the next year will be the ones that offer a range of different channels and allow customers to switch between them as required.

New-style business events

Business meetings and events have become a shadow of their former selves since the pandemic arrived. In 2022, expect them to come back, but in a different form.

Seminars and sessions where information is disseminated are likely to remain predominantly online events for the foreseeable future. In-person events will be reserved for networking and socialising which are difficult to do effectively over a video link.

As 2022 unfolds, the conditions that will shape it will become increasingly clear. By understanding what is likely to happen and building this in to plans, businesses can be as best placed as possible to grow in the weeks and months ahead.

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