September 18, 2014
If you business owners in 1995 — an arbitrary year — what the future held for business communications, their answer likely would have included a telephone, a fax machine and the postal service. Now that nearly 20 years have passed, it’s usually pretty difficult to find a company that still uses a fax machine, and many of them instead have Smartphones as their main means of voice communications, and rarely — if ever — use the postal service.
What will business communications look like in 20 years from now? At the risk of sounding like that business owner in 1995, business communications in two decades will likely resemble what business technology looks like right now. The real answer is also a simple one: the Internet. Businesses — as well as society, in general — has progressed leaps and bounds since the time when a phone call to family and friends, alerting them to impending Internet usage and the subsequent unavailability that was paired with its use, was necessary. Even the thought of such a convenience harkens to a dark time where boy bands and Furbies ruled the world, but that’s beside the point.
The Internet is the driving force behind modern globalization as we know it. By eliminating the physical borders nuisance that distance inherently provides, the Internet has created a global marketplace and, with it, the additional necessity of a cheap, efficient way to communicate.
Social Media: A Look into the Future
Social media has been the technology of the future for at least a half-decade now, and is probably better described as a technology of the present. Where social media excels is its propensity for, you know, being social; companies now have access to people when they are in a vulnerable (not bad vulnerable) position. If someone is on Facebook messaging their dad about dinner plans for Sunday, they’re receiving not-so-subliminal messages about dating services, sunglasses and bands, too.
Using social media is another way for businesses to create relationships, and often times, established relationships will lead to business. It knocks down the facade that a business often creates, and personifies the people that run said business.
Cloud Technology: Stay Connected
While the Internet removes the bonds of geographical restrictions, cloud services relieve of us our reliance on things like thumb drives, external hard drives, and regular ole’ hard drives (of course, the Cloud is the Internet, so maybe this comparison was a bridge too far…). Google+ integrates Google Drive, permitting employees to collaborate in real time, no matter their location.
Utilizing a cloud system is a good way for a business to increase employee creativity, while still permitting the ability to handle day-to-day tasks that would have demanded their physical presence in the office, beforehand.
VoIP: The Voice of International Possibilities
Voice over Internet Protocol sends voice data (i.e. your voice) in special “packets” using the Internet, rather than by traditional circuit transmissions like PSTN. Because you are using the Internet, there is no surcharge — if you don’t include the costs accrued by having a steady Internet connection. Think of it as e-mail compared to sending an actual letter in the mail.
Programs like Skype have made communicating with family members across any country easier for a few years now, but as demand grows, different VoIP companies are developing more business-oriented alternatives to what was once considered a strictly-social means of communication. No longer are small-businesses that use VoIP restricted by simple video conversations; companies are offering a comprehensive telecommunication service. Services like multiple extensions and failover routing, combine their respective benefits, meaning the business will never lose a call.
Harness the Power of Communications
All of the marveling at the wondrous powers that the Internet so generously gifts the masses aside, it’s about time that businesses everywhere realized the potential they can achieve by just using a few of the multitude of tools it has. The future of business communication promises only to boost overall efficiency, while keeping the present production at a high-level.
Hilary Smith is an online business journalist and tech enthusiast with a background in business communications. In addition to writing about how business communications today are changing, her writing also covers social media marketing, globalization and technology.