2021: The year of the user?

2021: The year of the user?

Author: Harry Chapman, Content Director, UCX 

When implementing unified communications and collaboration, businesses are quick to talk about the user but few actually focus on their needs. Far too often, technology is rolled out before end user surveys, sometimes to disastrous consequences.

Of course, understanding what users need is no easy task. IT teams have to strike a balance between preferences, security, budget and ensure it all remains compatible with existing systems. But after the past year of upheaval, there are encouraging signs that the user is gaining precedence.

In our recent market insight survey, when asked ‘what is the main objective of your UC&C strategy in 2021?’, 27% said enhanced user experience. This has been reiterated by 50 calls with our UCX community before Christmas, with many IT teams sharing a 2021 focus on getting the most out of systems and improving usability for users.

But does this mean we will see a long term change in how IT teams buy products, with a bigger focus on the end user? We certainly think so. User needs have become much more prevalent throughout the pandemic, for instance, the laser sharp focus on health and wellbeing (66.67% of our respondents said this was ‘Extremely Important,’ considerably higher than any other concern).

The next piece in the puzzle is the products themselves. Some companies have been experimenting with VR for meetings, to mimic office environments, such as trade floors (Citi and UBS), or even to recreate watercooler moments, like Gatherly which allows you to virtually walk up to people for a chat. When I asked Zoom what they thought the future was for this type of tech, they pointed to apps integrated within your video calling software - less ambitious than VR of course, but probably more realistic in the short term.

It's safe to say that as the pandemic continues, and we divide our time between home and the office, in the future there will be a greater demand for new user experiences. Expect tech providers that make VR work or software where we interact as an avatar, to gain an edge. Yes, Microsoft Teams will dominate, but that could only happen in the short term. This market is ripe for disruption. After all, we saw what happened to phone based communications once video took hold.

To read the full market insight report, download here!