Convergence, Automation, and Improved Customer Experiences: Key Trends Shaping 2024

By Special Guest
Stijn Nijhuis, CEO, Enreach
March 11, 2024

As digital transformation accelerates, businesses all across Europe find themselves at a crossroads of new opportunities and challenges in business communications and collaboration. It’s important for vendors to carefully analyse the key trends occurring in the market to better understand how to better serve customers. The objective, of course, should be to ensure that communications solutions and resources meet  customer needs, and give them a solid foundation to achieve their own goals.




The three significant trends occurring right now are convergence, automation, and shifts in user behavior away from the "always on" mentality of the past. At first glance, these topics may seem a bit obvious, but when examined in closer detail, there are some pretty exciting and dramatic things that will impact European businesses. 

Convergence (News - Alert) Will Take Centre Stage

Every year, the line separating traditional unified communications and contact centre functionalities becomes blurrier, and there is a continuous effort on the part of communications platform providers to replicate these features on their different platforms.

All of this development work really underscores where things are heading: one truly converged solution that manages all communications capabilities, including the robust telephony and management tools associated with unified communications, customer management capabilities embedded in contact centre platforms, video collaboration functionalities, and business productivity applications. This single solution should deliver all these features and services through one interface, improving efficiency, reducing cost, and ultimately giving customers what they want—simplicity and more standardisation for managing their communications.

The ‘converged solution’ eliminates the need for businesses to learn and administer overlapping, and in many cases, redundant technology. This will be a hot topic over the course of the year, as some vendors begin to unveil their plans for rolling out these next-generation solutions.

More AI, More Automation     

This may not surprise anyone, but it would be remiss not to at least mention that  AI-driven tools and applications will become even more popular this year. In 2023, we in the industry saw a lot of “tire kicking,” where businesses carefully deployed automation into certain parts of their operations, such as customer service or tech support. As AI and natural language models become more sophisticated, it only stands to reason that automated applications will expand into other areas of the business, such as sales or human resources. Developers are working feverishly to create the next wave of automated services that will drive efficiency and reduce human error. AI deployments will escalate over the course of the year, and will reshape business productivity in ways we can only imagine.

Users Regain Control

Over the past decade, the popularity of smart phones and their powerful technological innovations allowed businesses to expand the reachability of employees. Organisations knew their staff were often a text or phone call away. As a result, contacting team members outside traditional business hours became the norm. That all changed during the pandemic, when workers rejected the “always available” label and pushed back to regain the work-life balance they had missed for so many years.

Enterprises and mid-size organisations will quickly need to figure out how to navigate a path through these changes. Recognising and respecting employees' need for a healthy work-life flow not only contributes to their well-being but also fosters a healthier work environment, ultimately leading to increased productivity and higher retention rates. This emphasis on employee well-being has a direct, positive impact on the customer experience, as the staff is better equipped to meet customer needs.

Features embedded directly into a converged, UCaaS, or contact centre platform can address this cultural shift, ensuring that users regain control over how, when and if they can be reached, and providing employees with much needed time away from work pressures. By doing so, businesses can enhance the overall employee experience, contributing to their own success by fostering a more engaged and satisfied workforce, and create an environment where both the business and its people benefit from a culture that values and respects personal time.

Conclusion

After significant developments in AI and new technologies during 2023, we anticipate seeing further advancements and increased adoption of these innovations in the market. Convergence, the continued and even more rapid evolution of AI, and a shift towards smart, controlled reachability based on clear customer needs will be some of the most prominent trends in the coming months. It promises to be an exciting time indeed.

About the author: Stijn Nijhuis serves as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Enreach, one of Europe’s largest cloud communications providers. In this capacity, he is responsible for the company’s strategic initiatives and execution. Stijn is a serial entrepreneur who founded several successful technology companies. He was recognized as EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2022.




Edited by Erik Linask
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