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Our 2018 UC predictions: part two

Last week we shared our predictions for 2018 in the mobile and networking spaces. In this week’s instalment, we quiz our unified communications and managed services experts to find out the trends and developments they’re expecting to see emerge in 2018. 

Colin England, Product Manager, Unified Communications

The explosion of WebRTC

This is probably the best thing to come out of telecoms in the last few years. Down with plug-ins that take ages to install or clunky proprietary apps that no-one fully adopts – WebRTC, a project that provides browsers and mobile apps with real-time communications capabilities via simple APIs is open source, provides a familiar look and feel and is available on any device that supports Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge. What’s more, Apple is rumoured to be in the process of adding WebRTC to Safari. In other words, WebRTC is going to explode in 2018.

Businesses will switch on to contextual communications 

My next prediction is in line with the points around social media appropriation made last week. Put simply, people don’t want to have to flip between apps – especially within a single transaction. It’s best is to keep it simple – it certainly seems to work for Apple, after all.

But will we ever convince our customers to fully embrace and adopt the latest new Avaya app, Mitel client or even the freebie that comes with Windows? The reason Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have seeped into public consciousness is because everyone uses them, and knows how to use them – they are ubiquitous across society. But when was the last time you IM’d someone from Mitel? The answer is likely never, because its IM is not compatible with our IM. We’re creating walled gardens when what we actually need is open meadows – real time, open, web-based applications that embed these tools – what I like to call contextual communications.  

Tom Gutteridge, Product Manager, Professional and Managed Services

AI-based security threats will grow in prominence

Artificial intelligence will continue its progression towards mainstream usage, with technologies being delivered that enable those without a mind the size of a planet to develop services backed by AI or AI-lite applications. These may be using significant computer processing to determine the right answers but processing power and speed will make the user fairly unaware. This may not be true AI and will probably be more of a mix between machine learning and AI, but with a relatively straightforward user interface. In the way that IM and Presence technologies have practically killed voicemail, I would expect to see AI complementing interactive voice response to further drive down live caller to human agent traffic in contact centres.

As we know, for every good that enters our world there seems all too quickly to be a bad that exploits it. Like a version of Newton's Third Law of Motion that states "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”, in cyber security AI-based systems will be used to organise and control complex attacks. In the first instance this will be state sponsored, though those states may not be friendly and eventually pure criminal forces will harness AI. 

They’ll be networks, but not as we know them!

Local peer-to-peer communication will increasingly be the method by which devices and apps connect, within a room or building where those apps sense each other and, through pre-approved security, want to exchange information that is location, context or security relevant. The IOT will, in effect, also usher in the ‘Internet of local connections’. The effect will be a reduction in network demand relative to the number of connected devices out there, so network cores will only have to carry the genuine long(er)distance traffic.