Top communications and contact centre predictions for 2024

Cian Maher, Head of Voice Technology and Infrastructure for global communications business DigitalWell, discusses his top technology trend predictions for the new year and what he believes are driving them

What do hybrid work, security concerns and the boom of all things relating to artificial intelligence (AI) have in common? They’ve all dominated the contact centre and communication technology conversations of 2023.

As organisations adapted to a hybrid work environment, the significance of secure and efficient communication tools became paramount. Simultaneously, the integration of AI into various facets of business operations reshaped how companies approach customer service, data management, and predictive analytics.

The interplay of these three factors – hybrid work, security and AI – has set the stage for a technological landscape that continues to evolve rapidly.

So, as we kick off the new year, will 2024 be another groundbreaking chapter in the realm of technology – and exactly what can we expect?

Top technology predictions for the new year and beyond

Anticipated trends in the field of communications specifically – although there are many similarities across industries – stem from businesses pursuing cost efficiency, talent optimisation and increased service reliability. With these drivers in mind, thoughts immediately turn to AI and machine learning, with the 2023 generative AI boom likely to bring significant developments in the AI and automation space, such as:

Automating routine tasks: A trend we’ve already seen unfold in 2023, but expect to see an increase in popularity in the coming year, businesses utilising contact centres, for example, have been leveraging AI to automate simple tasks and even provide 24/7 support for routine inquiries that don’t require complex understanding. This, of course, not only reduces the need for extensive human resources, but frees up employees’ time to handle more complex issues that demand a human touch. As well as addressing the challenge of talent acquisition and retention in contact centres, the use of AI in this way really paves the way to a more streamlined and efficient customer service model, allowing customers to interact with businesses, seek information, and make minor requests independently.  Companies operating in regulated industries, such as telecoms, may also explore the use of AI automating tasks related to licensing, paperwork, and communication with regulatory bodies in different countries.
Expansion of self-service capabilities: Alongside automating routine tasks, I also predict an expansion of self-service capabilities in AI as businesses continue to drive operational efficiency and aim for more reliable and resilient services. On this note, I can see AI handling tasks such as contract extensions or service renewals on the cards, or even being involved in more complex, proactive areas, like identifying and understanding trends related to faults, learning from patterns in repeated customer reports, and predicting potential issues in the network before they escalate.
Enhanced social media monitoring: We expect to see AI used more for monitoring social media, emails, live chat, and other communication methods. From sentiment analysis to flagging harmful content and notifying relevant parties, businesses – especially those in customer service and brand protection – will likely benefit hugely from these capabilities as they become more accurate and powerful in 2024.
Language translation services: For businesses that operate globally, with customers and partners who speak different languages, AI could be a game-changer when it comes to addressing language barriers. AI has the potential to facilitate live translation services, acting as a dynamic translator during conversations, or enabling speech-to-text and text-to-speech functionalities to bridge language gaps.
Augmented and Virtual Reality in unified communications: If AI could contribute to the integration of augmented and virtual reality into unified communications, it could really revolutionise how hybrid teams collaborate, conduct meetings, and work on projects in virtual spaces. Because of this – and the fact that the hybrid working model shows no signs of abating – we feel the concept of virtualised office spaces and enhanced collaboration tools may become more prevalent in the coming year. What’s more, the need for better interoperability among communication platforms is clear. As such, major players, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, may work towards providing more comprehensive tools for integration.
Focus on employee well-being and productivity: One trend we hear a lot about is how communications technologies are expected to expand capabilities to help businesses promote better mental health for their teams. Because of this, I think we’ll see new features incorporated into communication tools that promote employee well-being, for example, reminders for breaks, ergonomic tips or access to mental health resources. As well as promoting well-being, businesses may also look to AI to monitor well-being, alongside productivity, and adherence to recommended breaks. Such features may become more common as organisations prioritise the health and productivity of remote and hybrid workforces.
Regulation-driven changes in telecom infrastructure: The 2023 gen AI boom is not only paving the way for groundbreaking advancements in AI and automation, but also triggering regulatory changes that address persistent challenges within the telecommunications industry – namely, spam calls and SMS. There are already ongoing efforts to combat spam callers, which affect both telecommunication networks and end-users – through various regulatory interventions. And, with governments and telecommunication regulatory bodies recognising the urgency to better curb the negative effects of spam calls, we foresee new rules, standards and technologies designed to identify, block, or mitigate the impact of unwanted and potentially harmful calls in 2024.
Heightened integration of advanced cybersecurity measures: As the reliance on AI for customer interactions and data processing continues to grow, ensuring robust security protocols will be paramount. As such, we may see businesses implement AI-driven threat detection and prevention mechanisms, real-time analysis of communication data for potential vulnerabilities, or even use AI-enhanced authentication methods to fortify the security posture of contact centres. We also expect there to be a real focus on leveraging AI to identify and respond to emerging cyber threats, so that sensitive customer information is safeguarded and the integrity of communication channels maintained.

Whether these particular predictions materialise, develop or change direction entirely, one thing is for sure this year – change is inevitable. In the realm of customer interactions, technological advancements promise a future where seamless, intelligent, and personalised engagements become the norm and the overarching message to businesses is clear: adapt to the transformative power of AI or risk being left behind.

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