Q4 is upon us

And we’re entering the home stretch for the year—and the decade. Businesses of all sizes are looking back on 2019 to audit crucial infrastructure and evaluate performance and cost-effectiveness to inform both their short-term organizational investments as well as long-term planning.

The adoption of cloud computing will sustain its acceleration through the new year as organizations continue to explore and fine-tune the mixture of on-premise and managed cloud services and applications that work best. In the past year, an increasing number of businesses have opted for multi-cloud and hybrid IT environments as a way to leverage the strength of various cloud solutions and deployment models based on data and application requirements as well as cost, compliance, performance, and future sustainability.

Flexera reports that 45% of enterprises deployed some sort of hybrid solution in 2019, and 31% utilized public cloud. (31% public; 9% on-premise private cloud; 6% hosted private cloud.) Last year, 30% of all IT budgets are being allocated to cloud computing and by 2020, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud (Forbes).

Nearly 90% of businesses predict their IT budgets will grow or stay steady over the next year. Over $20 billion was reportedly spent in one quarter in 2018; companies are spending on cloud solutions to improve customer experiences, drive operational efficiencies and improve employee productivity. Cloud communications solutions such as CCaaS and UCaaS, for example, are not just tools for communications; in fact, streamlining communications—even with true omnichannel capabilities—is only a small portion of the collection of benefits organizations see. Other benefits include reduced IT workloads and scalability and enhanced analytics. Forrester reports nearly 7 out of 10 IT managers feel that improving the experience of their customers is a top business priority, and PricewaterhouseCooper reports

“nearly 80% of consumers say that speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer experience.”

Innovation on the horizon for cloud communication solutions includes the increasing maturity of artificial intelligence and its ability to interpret large quantities of unstructured data. For example, a contact center might field thousands of calls in a given day; AI can analyze every interaction and, based on trends, potentially identify opportunities in real-time. Be it quick fixes or new product features, AI can reduce the lead time it takes a business to adapt and deliver value back to the customer.

Similarly, IVR (interactive voice response) will continue to make headway in 2020—powered by AI, of course. With the ability to interpret accents and tones with better accuracy than traditional speech recognition software, intelligent IVR is one of the major contact center trends for 2020. AI-powered IVR systems can also benefit customers who are hesitant to wait in a call queue by assigning the caller to specific agents or departments on a case-by-case basis.

Again, in deference to customer experience, surveys have shown that customers have a strong preference for self-service solutions over agent support. As such, self-assist tools, including FAQs and tutorials that help customers to self-troubleshoot generic issues, have gained favor from consumers because they can quickly resolve the majority of simple concerns before a live agent needs to be involved. A rise in the adoption of self-assist tools is predicted in 2020, as most organizations are working to free up their agents to focus on more time and resource-intensive tasks.

Lastly, more organizations will be looking to leverage high-end message filtering technology that reduces the number of error messages and misinformation without impacting customer experience or experiencing loss of time or money. The utilization of message recall technology is a major milestone for call center business. While message transmissions can be delayed by a couple of seconds, the result could be worth millions of dollars in savings annually, depending on the size of the organization.

MarketsandMarkets reports that UCaaS will grow to over $28 billion by 2021. The market is only 16% penetrated and cloud-based contact center is growing at 25.2 CAGR resulting in a 20.9 billion market by 2022.