Business comms in 2018: what do you need to plan for?

Most people will publish their ‘what-to-look-out-for-in-2018’ articles at the end of the year. But, to truly take advantage of next year’s advancements in IT and telephony, you need to act today. Because who realistically starts planning for the following year in mid-December? It’s as mad as planning for a holiday an hour before heading to the airport.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together the communications trends that we think will be a big deal next year. And if you start prioritising them now, you’ll be flying out the starting gate in 2018 while your competitors are still nursing their festive hangovers.

The forecast is cloudy

By now, most businesses are tired of analysts singing the praises of moving to the cloud. But make no mistake, it’s an all-encompassing trend that’s only going to grow. According to IDC, worldwide spending on public cloud computing will reach $162bn (£125bn) by 2020, more than doubling since 2015.

We know you’ve not been hiding under a rock. You’re most likely using cloud services in some capacity already. But you should anticipate that it’s going to become even more integral to how you do business. Cloud services can offer many advantages to businesses, from replacing legacy on-premise hardware (e.g. servers, PBXs, backup tapes), to moving to cost effective OpEx investment models. If you haven’t already seriously considered how cloud could support your business, it really should be top of your list. Because if your business is to grow, you’ll want the best foundations to build upon.

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Planning the perfect implementation

The race to 5G

Though 5G won’t properly reach consumers until the end of the decade, the new mobile network standard will start making wave(length)s in 2018. 5G NR, which adds 5G radio on top of 4G infrastructure, is scheduled to be operational by the end of the year, meaning the first services could appear in 2018.

This could provide at least double the speeds of 4G, which would have a massive impact on mobile working practices. This investment in mobile infrastructure by the industry is evidence of the shift towards driving mobility in businesses to support more agile ways of working.

Whilst 5G may not be available for most in the short term, your choice in mobile service is becoming more integral to your overall communications strategy than a previous decision on the best handset deal or number of inclusive minutes. When was the last time you reviewed your business mobile service? Investing in a mobile service designed to support more effective mobile working now, will bring about more immediate benefits.

Truly unified communications

The unified communications and collaboration technology industry is expected to see huge growth in the coming years. Research from Global Market Insights predict it’ll be a $96bn (£74bn) industry by 2023. The market is maturing rapidly, which means more providers will be able to offer everything under one roof.

You may want to consider the benefits of consolidating your unified communications supplier today. Integrated, interoperable solutions are the new norm.  From a practical perspective, this means easier deployments and a better experience for end users. Plus, the best solutions are better optimised for the multitude of devices and operating systems (both new and old) that employees use, as well as ensuring secure access.

If you have a significant amount of mobile working in your business, it may well be worth your while putting money towards this in 2018.

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11 September 2017 | Cem Ahmet

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.