2010 Hot Topics — Communications

A new year. What’s hot, top of mind, high on the ever-evolving priority list? When it comes to business communication topics, here’s my non-scientifically created, feel-it-in-my-gut, ear-to-the-ground, asked-several-other-smart-people-in-order-to-create-it list.

  1. The Cloud & CaaS — Communications-as-a-Services turns red hot in 2010 thanks to maturing offerings, a lot of well-publicized case studies, the realization that this isn’t just for SMBs, and the continued need by organizations to reduce cap ex costs and IT resource requirements.
  2. Business Process Automation — This was my sleeper prediction and number eleven on my list last year. This one starts to see real projects with real results in 2010.
  3. Collaboration — This isn’t the result of Cisco’s new collaboration-everything branding initiative. Web collaboration and collaborative interactions with customers just have great benefits. Customers will realize it and buy a lot of it this year.
  4. Video Conferencing — Like 2009, the stars are aligned. This one continues to be hot.
  5. Proactive Customer Contact — Using technology to proactively contact customers about everything from insurance policy renewals, to newly announced sale items, to the fact that it’s time to replace your water filter.
  6. Improving the Customer Experience — Leveraging technology to ensure that your best customers are taken care of the best, integrating communication channels, and measuring performance through the eyes of the customers.
  7. The Boring Stuff — They have been around forever, but things like predictive dialing, audio conferencing, and self-service will see traction in 2010 based on loosened budgets and the easy ROI that these not-so-sexy applications deliver.
  8. System and Vendor Consolidation — I’m not talking about mergers and acquisitions, but system and vendor consolidation at the customer level. Customers will continue to move to all-in-one platforms, and away from multi-point offerings. At the same time they will look to do business with fewer vendors in the mix. 
  9. Mobile and Premise Conversion — Smart phones deserve their name. With so much intelligence built into today’s mobile devices, organizations will work at determining how to best leverage these devices and all their cool applications inside the business.

Now for two things that didn’t make my list — although I readily admit that they will continue to get media attention and hype in 2010. The first is unified communications. I think this continues to be a misunderstood term with an ROI that is difficult to get past a sharp CFO. Based on that, it will show little traction beyond repackaged IP PBX communication applications. The second is a business-based implementation plan for social networking. Sure, it will be used to promote and communicate (which I think it is great for), but come December 31, 2010 companies will still be scratching their collective heads to determine how to monetize it inside their companies.

Agree? Disagree? Please comment!

Joe — The resident prognosticator