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Four predictions for 2021

2020 saw many changes to the way we live and work, and it will be interesting to see which of those become permanent. To get some insights into what we can expect to see in the coming months and years, we spoke to Matthew Worboys, Business Development Director at our partners Gamma. They’re the UK’s leading provider of unified communications (you can find out more at gamma.co.uk).

 

Working from home

Matthew thinks that the move towards home working will become permanent. That means that employers will need to put the right technology in place: “In 2020 most people used ‘quick fix’ solutions. This year businesses will need to have properly unified communications.

 “The same goes for homes. Last year a lot of us experienced working from home while competing for connectivity with family members – kids streaming movies or video gaming. This year we’ll have to put long-term arrangements in place, so having several internet connections at home might become common.”

 

Voice calls in MS Teams 

One of 2020’s big winners was MS Teams, and Matthew says that Microsoft will build on that. “In 2020 MS Teams passed 115 million global users,” he says, “and that’s just people who have downloaded the software. The number of meeting participants will be a lot higher. Less than 10% of those 115 million people use voice features on Teams. So there will be a big push on that.

“The platform is now there – the next step is to enable people do to more things with it. Getting people to integrate Teams with their existing telephony package, for example. At Gamma, we’ll be integrating our Horizon platform with Teams, so that people can start calls within Teams and use lots of extra features too.” 

 

5G and video calling 

Matthew expects big things from 5G. “Apple have now launched their first 5G handsets (the iPhone 12 range), and the network operators are rolling it out. Each of them has bought different spectrum ranges, and it looks like Three (which is a partner of Gamma) is best placed to deliver a complete service. 

“5G will encourage people to use video calling over the mobile network – opening up new ways to work remotely. And I think we’ll see more demand for video. As people spend less time together in workplaces, they will look to find other ways to make a face-to-face connection. So telephony packages will need to offer video features, as Gamma’s Horizon platform does.

“And its biggest impact may not even be in telephony. Where it could really move things forward is in areas like AI and driverless cars which use a huge amount of data, so the increased speed will be really important.”

 

Embracing the digital economy 

At Silver Cloud we think that this year businesses will no longer be able to avoid embracing the digital economy, and Matthew agrees: “I think we’ll see consumers increasingly wanting to ‘self-serve’, and businesses will have to work out a digital strategy that gives them a presence online. This doesn’t have to be complicated: for example, a bakery could let you order online and then send a message to your phone when everything is ready to collect. But, one way or another, businesses will have to bring themselves into the 21st century.”

At Silver Cloud we’re under no illusions that there are challenges ahead, but there are also many opportunities, and we’re excited about those. One thing that won’t change is that, as always, the laws of ‘commercial evolution’ will apply: those that adapt most quickly will survive and thrive.