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The year it all starts coming together

The coming year will be characterised by convergence and simplicity: in devices, software, and how companies interact with their customers. Everything points to the coming of a massive change, writes KARL REED of Elingo.

We’ve seen significant shifts in technology and how it’s used over the past few years. But soon the impact of these developments will hit us, and we will realise the way we live and work has changed completely.

Ahead of 2012, Elingo expected certain trends to develop, and these forecasts were borne out in a big way.

The evolution of devices

A key prediction was that tablet computing would come to the fore. This turned out to be one of the biggest growth areas of the year: and it is showing no signs of slowing down.

In fact, tablets and larger smartphones are going to become increasingly prevalent as the desktop PC slowly disappears from the workspace. As people cut back on the number of devices they use, we will see more convergence and evolution occurring in these devices laptops will merge with tablets and tablets will overlap with phones, resulting in new all-in-one devices that streamline computing.

And consumer demand will result in the same convergence in the app and software space as people seek simpler, more streamlined ways to work.

Global vendors are preparing for this wave. Microsoft, for example, ahead of the Windows 8 release, is enabling an environment where one operating system will function in the same way across multiple devices.

The rise of the road warrior

This change in computing is coming on the back of a steadily increasing road warrior workforce. Not long ago, mainly salespeople were on the road. Today, enterprises want their entire workforce enabled for mobile productivity. You’re seeing everyone from sales and marketing to support and financial clerks going mobile and using devices like tablets to connect to the enterprise from their customers’ premises.

Empowering the mobile workforce means equipping them with efficient mobile devices with serious processing power and the ability to access their enterprise systems and desktop tools from anywhere, at any time.

In the quest for a more streamlined and flexible working environment that allows for this, we will see greater interoperability in both the hardware and software arenas. Inevitably then, proprietary systems will become a handicap, and cloud applications will proliferate, making integration and seamless workflow become the norm.

Social media reinvents the enterprise

The coming together of previously separate entities is a trend that is impacting the relationship between enterprises and their customers too.

As we predicted last year, social media use has increased dramatically, and we see no signs of this slowing down. Social media has united and empowered billions of people around the globe, and these individuals expect to be able to interact with enterprises in the same direct and immediate way they can connect with the world.

Social media will revolutionise the way enterprises specifically contact centres are run, as consumers demand direct and immediate access to companies, using a channel they prefer. This is changing the way executives respond to consumers too: the lines to top management, which were once non-existent, are now opening up.

We are seeing local contact centres embarking on major shifts from call centre to multi-channel contact centre to cater for this new demand. This move benefits consumers, who now have direct access using the channel of their choice, but it also benefits the contact centre, which is able to use the vast amount of information residing in social media platforms to identify each customer and gather important data about them. Payment via social media is a relatively new development that will likely show steady growth over the next few years.

A brave new world

In recent years, we’ve seen some significant shifts we may not have been aware of. But technology has matured, the way people interact has changed and everything’s coming together to cause a sea of change in the way people exist. We’re entering a new era, in which individuals and enterprises are more empowered and more connected, and innovation thrives.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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