Life used to be pretty easy for those managing business communications. You had phone systems and email—and that was pretty much it. But we all know things started changing with mobile, the consumerization of IT, and the rise of videoconferencing.
However, unified communications solutions have promised to mitigate some of the IT challenges we’ve come to expect. Bringing all of your communications channels under one roof with a UC solution like Skype for Business can be a win-win solution for IT and end users.
How much time do we have before things start changing again, though? After Microsoft’s 2017 Build Conference, the future of the company—and specifically its focus in communications—became a bit clearer.
Voice Enablement Is the Future of Skype for Business
Business communications systems are all about employee productivity. When user preferences shifted from phone calls to instant messaging, we ended up with a battle of chat apps and the recent reign of Slack.
Now that you can get voice, videoconferencing, and instant messenger all in Skype for Business, what’s next? According to Microsoft, a lot of artificial intelligence.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, explained that they’re working hard to catch up to Amazon—both with Azure (against AWS) and Cortana (against Alexa). To achieve this goal, Microsoft is taking advantage of its massive base of business users. The same users who are taking advantage of Skype for Business.
Moving forward, Microsoft is opening up the Cortana Skills Kit so third-party developers can create voice-enabled “skills” that will be enabled in the near future of Skype for Business iterations (among other products). With the growing popularity of voice assistants, it’s only a matter of time before employees start expecting these capabilities in the workplace.
But you’re probably wondering—what does any of this have to do with my actual Skype for Business deployment? As voice skills become mainstream in the business, they’ll have a bigger impact than you might expect.
Voice Skills—Just Another Bandwidth-Hungry Channel
When Microsoft rolled Cortana into Windows 10, complaints piled up because the always-on features were consuming so much bandwidth in the background.
Imagine what this would look like within your Skype for Business deployment. You already have bandwidth-hungry videoconferencing solutions to deal with, but at least these are only a concern when the video apps are in use.
If you have always-on voice capabilities for all of your Skype for Business users, you could face an uphill IT battle against efficient resource allocation. Additionaly, AI capabilities are more of an inevitability than something you can avoid. Even if you decide to go with another UC solution instead, voice skills will surely keep cropping up in the coming years.
This is why you have to safeguard the future of Skype for Business for your company’s deployment with the right management solutions. If you aren’t prepared to monitor (and maintain) the performance of Skype for Business, your employees won’t be able to take advantage of all the solution has to offer.
If you want to learn more about how to optimize your unified communications solution, check out how Edgewater Networks is Skype for Business verified.