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XMedius 2020 Predictions: Consumer Privacy, AI & the Cloud

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

By Tom Minifie, VP and GM of Voice Solutions, XMedius

UC 2020 Predictions: Consumer Privacy, AI & the Cloud

In 2019, we have seen a few major developments in the Unified Communications (UC) space that we expect to continue to expand in 2020. There has been an uptick in laws and regulations surrounding consumer privacy that we expect to remain a focus in 2020. Similarly, the advent of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies have created a relatively new field and are driving innovation in UC. Of course, Cloud has been, and will continue, to be a hot area of interest within UC.

New Consumer Privacy Laws

In 2018, we saw Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) come into effect, becoming the first major consumer privacy regulation to have global affects on business. The law introduced extraterritorial coverage for Europeans' data, with penalties for violations or breaches, regardless of where in the world the company is located.

Fines for violating GDPR can be extremely heavy as well. British Airways, for example, is facing a $230 million fine for a 2018 data breach. Similarly, Marriott faces a $123 million fine for a different breach. As a result, 2018 and 2019 have seen organizations scramble to comply with GDPR.

With new laws like the Nevada Privacy Law (which came into effect in October 2019), the California Consumer Privacy Act and New York's SHIELD Act (both of which come into effect in 2020), there is a clear trend towards protecting consumer privacy. Indeed, there has recently been a bill introduced to the U.S. Congress, called the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act, that promises protections similar to GDPR. While there is no guarantee this bill will become law, it is nonetheless indicative of the trend toward stronger data privacy requirements.

Organizations that deal with personal data, including tracking user activity across the internet, need to be cognizant of these new laws and pay attention to their requirements and ramifications. Because these laws typically include organizations that are located outside of the physical boundaries, it is vital that all organizations in the data processing chain work together to protect the privacy of our (your) data.

AI Opens the Door to New Opportunities

AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies have seen a rapid expansion in recent years, while still being a new and developing field. As more AI solutions are developed and Machine Learning algorithms mature, we expect a significant increase in new AI-driven solutions, including in the UC space.

Indeed, as the computing power provided by the cloud opens the door to all kinds of new AI applications, we expect to see novel new solutions previously unheard of or thought impossible. We are already seeing examples of this in chatbots being leveraged to respond to user concerns, complaints and requests for information via social media channels. Similarly, there are new solutions striving to solve chronic problems plaguing healthcare (for example).

AI/ML offers a great deal of potential - the solution in the link above, for example, is designed to work in conjunction with an outbound notification service to help patients find rides to doctors' appointments they otherwise would miss. On the other hand, organizations wanting to seize the advantages of these solutions will need to carefully vet and analyze potential new technologies, to make sure they are more than a quick implementation trying to capture a piece of a hot market. It is likely that many ambitious companies will attempt to quickly bring unique but impractical solutions to market. The proverbial solution looking for a problem issue.  

Consider the cryptocurrency boom in late 2017. Dozens, if not hundreds, of companies launched new solutions leveraging proprietary cryptocurrencies. These were designed to interact with smart contracts and blockchains to solve for a plethora of different business problems, but the extreme majority died out by early 2018. The reasons for this were almost as diverse as the number of new solutions, but common reasons included poor funding, overambitious ideals, and a lack of direction to bring a practical solution to market. Given the relative infancy of the industry, it is likely AI/ML will see a similar pattern (albeit less extreme) with solutions considered gimmicks or impractical quickly failing (remember Bitcoin and blockchain existed for over 8 years before the crypto boom).

Migrating to the Cloud

Many people will suggest that the cloud is the future of IT - its advantages are readily apparent: it's possible to realize a reduced total cost of ownership over an on-premises environment, it has virtually instant and unlimited scalability, and the computational power available makes previously impossible processes possible.

Organizations around the globe realize this and are moving to the cloud. At the same time, solution providers are increasingly shifting their focus to building out new cloud offerings. Some are even ending support for on-premises versions of solutions in an attempt to push their customers to the cloud.

While we expect this trend to continue, we also recognize UC is an especially tricky thing to migrate. Cloud providers are building out UC capabilities, but they are not yet to the same level as mature on-premises UC solutions. Because of this, many organizations will continue to hold off on their UC migration. They will be waiting and watching for cloud providers to improve their solutions to the point where a migration is practical for them. Alternatively, organizations will implement hybrid cloud strategies to take advantage of the best of both worlds.

Because cloud providers are aware of their relative weaknesses, we expect key players to put heavy emphasis on building out new features, expanding their eco-system of technology providers and improving stability in their voice and UC solutions in 2020.


Considering the potential impact these new laws, regulations, and solutions can have on UC, we expect to see these trends become a major focal point in 2020. To learn more about Unified Communications, these trends, and other trends XMedius expects to come to the forefront in 2020, visit our website at


About the Author

Tom Minifie 

With more than 35 years' experience in the high-tech sector, Tom Minifie oversees all activities related to the Unified Communications software solutions of the Unified Communications Business Unit within XMedius.

He previously served as the Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Product Management for AVST and has held a variety of executive level positions in business development and marketing. He is a recognized authority in the field of Unified Communications and has built strategic technical relationships with many of the industry's leading technology vendors.

Published Tuesday, December 31, 2019 7:15 AM by David Marshall
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