Unified Communications 2.0: The Technology Disruption That’s Already Overdue

video conference call

COVID has profoundly affected the way we communicate. By necessitating hybrid workplaces, it’s accelerated the adoption of UC platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Webex.  The past two years have seen telcos and SIs around the world become involved in a slew of UC and voice transformations to help facilitate the new working model.

One of the technology initiatives COVID kickstarted was the move to cloud-based PABX. Out went the traditional PABX handsets, and in came the integration of fixed-voice UC platforms.

There are plenty of articles and case studies from integration partners and vendors detailing how they helped industries ranging from healthcare to education transform the way they communicate. However, these initiatives have been primarily around how organisations optimise the way they communicate internally.

Of course, having the ability to also rationalise their PABX and take voice calls from customers on multiple devices in different locations has helped WFH initiatives (and organisations that have coupled this with a modern contact centre for an omni-channel customer experience have generally done well over the last 24 months). However, there hasn’t been nearly enough talk about what comes next and how we elevate the experience beyond just voice and video workloads in B2C communications.

At PingCo, we believe that we’re on the cusp of an even larger and much more profound change. As companies like Microsoft accelerate their investment in Teams and continue developing APIs for their Azure Communication Services platform, more businesses will start to seek out newer, more immersive ways to communicate with their customers.

It’s important to note, though, that enabling the addition of voice, video, chat, and telephony to create custom app experiences is not necessarily a new concept – Twilio has been a leader in this field for quite some time. We’re also starting to see acceleration in this space; a good example is KuveytTurk, a European bank.

1: KuveytTurk now allows customers to open up bank accounts using video calling within their iOS/Android app.

A popular Turkish bank, KuveytTurk, responded to the COVID lockdowns by enabling prospective customers to set up a fully functional bank account.  By leveraging WebRTC to enable audio and video communications, they made the process as simple as downloading and applying through their iOS/Android app.

This type of immersive digital experience is surprisingly rare. As a technology community, we’re only beginning to scratch the surface on digitising traditional bricks and mortar stores.  We need to move beyond e-commerce presences to, essentially, provide online services that are as good, if not better, than what consumers can get in person.

Let’s extend the bank example to something a little more local. I recently spoke to an Australian tier 1 bank about their impending telephony transformation and how they should look beyond the commercial construct of the two vendors they were deciding between. FSIs need to think proactively about extending their current iOS/Android apps to integrate with their UC platform of choice and select the vendor with the most mature roadmap and capability to implement it.

Below are some wireframes that we came up with to illustrate the possibilities created by leveraging Microsoft Teams and Azure Communication Services.

By enabling home loan consultants to connect directly with high net worth prospects, both parties are able to co-author inputs inside the banking app. This style of collaborative engagement can significantly accelerate sales motions and loan applications.

Now, compare that process to how banks currently do business: a web form is filled out and then, should everything go to plan, the consumer may have an appointment time set far into the future to organise … a simple phone call. The difference between the two models is chalk and cheese.

Banking isn’t the only industry ripe for cloud transformation, either. Let’s look at an industry that has been disrupted more than any other over the past two years – healthcare, and, in particular, general practice.

GPs are already providing telehealth consults with more regularity, especially since COVID forced some practices to close for weeks on end. However, the typical telehealth call is a rather primitive service – it’s a phone call only available for customers who have previously visited the practice.

As such, there’s an opportunity to create an Australia-wide platform that leverages the online ‘My Health Record’ database (which already stores important health information) to potentially provide a 24/7 GP service – essentially, an Uber for GP services – where GPs who currently work in physical practices can choose to work from home.

Think about the enablement this could bring.  A doctor in Kalgoorlie could connect to a GP platform and conduct a virtual consult with a patient living in Broken Hill at 11 p.m. by quickly pulling up the patient’s My Health Record data. At the end of the call, all call notes could be uploaded into the platform’s own practice management software with an API. Over time, as adoption levels increase, this style of telehealth service could significantly reduce the pressure on local GPs and hospitals by evenly distributing the requirement for medical assistance and efficiently leveraging the GPs we have in our country.

The above examples are just some of the ways businesses can align their technology to an environment no longer bound by borders in a globalised economy. If you’re looking to extend your current UC platform beyond what comes out of the box to a next-gen market leading service, we’d love to chat with you!

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