What does it mean when the leaves turn, the temperature drops, and every retail checkout line you see is 15 people deep? No, it’s not just the return of pumpkin-spice everything—a new year is nearly upon us, and this season brings with it an opportunity to reflect on all the technological gifts 2018 has bestowed upon businesses. For organizations seeking communication technology and other high-tech upgrades, there’s hardly been a better time to be a buyer; here are four technologies that show why.
1. APIs Make the Communication Technology World Go Round
True, APIs were making waves prior to 2018. Even so, their value as a communication technology (and in other contexts) easily justifies their presence on this list.
The high-level sales pitch for APIs: easier access to critical functionality. That’s important on the back end, where personnel need modern tools to stay productive. It’s even more important on the front lines, especially considering the growing number of expectations customers have for businesses. Since APIs allow organizations to equip products with capabilities that would be expensive and difficult to build in-house—in-app calling, for one example—they can help a company stay competitive and save money.
Businesses have only scratched the surface of the value of APIs. As both personnel and consumers acquire a longer list of “basic” needs, organizations will have to exchange ground-up development for an easier, faster, cheaper alternative—securing a growing enterprise presence for APIs in 2019 and beyond.
2. Two-Factor Authentication: Privacy Done Right
Another 2018 tech trend, two-factor authentication (2FA), has already hit the spotlight, with numerous online services all featuring some take on the concept. When logging into their accounts, users of 2FA must provide a second means of authentication—generally a code sent via SMS to an authorized phone number—as a simple yet effective additional layer of security.
“Simple” on the user’s end, anyway. On the back end, the 2FA solution must be able to locate the authorized phone number, send an SMS message—a hugely complex task with its own hugely complex back end—generate and recognize the code, and so forth. Building a tool that can automate all these functions is no small feat, leading many organizations to third-party APIs for their own 2FA solutions.
Two-factor authentication is big now and should be even bigger soon. More knowledge of privacy topics among end users, coupled with easy access via APIs, should lead increasingly more companies to offer or require 2FA. The feature combines an elegant front end with a complex back end so well, it’s hard to imagine a better alternative gaining widespread acceptance any time soon.
3. Integrations: API-Like Capability, API-Like Impact
With several high-level functions in common, integrations and APIs are close relatives. Here, the difference is in the details. Where APIs add functionality to individual software products, integrations marry two or more standalone products such that one or both gain data or functionality.
Integrations are very useful for streamlining. Say a sales department integrates its customer relationship management (CRM) tool for lead tracking with a cloud-based communication technology. This integration enables the sales team to call leads and other contacts from within the CRM. Merging sales and call information improves efficiency in multiple areas. Reps no longer need to manually note outbound calls into individual customer accounts, since the system does it automatically. Reps can mass-SMS-message customers in the system by category. Data concerning outbound comms automatically populates accounts, so that the right customers always receive the right communication.
This sort of integration would have sounded magical a decade ago. Today, it’s just one example of what businesses can do when their software products work as a single entity. Expect integrations to continue being developed by cloud-software engineers and to drive enterprise-software purchases in 2019 and beyond.
4. Cloud Is Still Huge, and It’s Better Than Ever
The earlier items on this list share a common thread—a technology every enterprise-level business has invested in: cloud. Though cloud has existed for a while, it deserves all the praise it gets.
Need more proof? Name another recent technology with potential to touch every corner of a business’s workflows, supply chain, and communications. When a rep sends a message from any of her devices, and her number is revealed to the recipient, cloud is what sends the message and identifies the number. When a manufacturing machine automatically exports vital metrics to a manager, cloud transmits the data and provides it to the edge device. Cloud is a car company’s eyes when it monitors its fleet and a retailer’s ears when a manager listens to ensure reps are giving the right pitch every time.
And cloud is evolving. Better cellular data has improved access to cloud-based services, adding, for instance, a whole new dimension to the idea of mobility. The as-a-service world (including software, communications, and platform) keeps businesses on the cutting edge of software no matter how long ago they installed the service. You might not hear the word “cloud” as much in 2019 as you have in years past, but that wouldn’t be because the technology isn’t there—instead, it would be because it’s everywhere.