A smartphone and tablet on a desk, along with a pair of glasses and pens.

Enterprise business solutions have come a long way in a short time.

Communication is key, so they say. The business world has clearly taken that advice to heart, if trends in modern enterprise business solutions are any indication. From carrier pigeons to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), enterprise communications has come an awfully long way.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane and remember how innovative the past few decades have been. Better yet, let’s also flex those Nostradamus impressions and hypothesize what the future holds for business communications.

Bell Bottoms, Lava Lamps, and the Mighty Fax Machine

Office communication in the ’70s was a bit more involved than today’s digital wonderland. The vast majority of communications revolved around telephones tethered to a base station. Need to get ahold of someone? Voice or sneakernet were just about the only options.

It comes as no surprise, then, that data sharing was also a largely manual process. Remember, computers at the time were prohibitively expensive and cumbersome, so pens and typewriters were the name of the game. Sharing information required heavy use of transcription and snail mail. Fortunately, in the latter part of the decade came a revolution called the fax machine. With it, data could be shared over telephone lines with unrivaled speed, making enterprise communications much more efficient.

Computing in the ’80s

In the ’80s, telephones still ruled the enterprise communications roost. Carbon paper made copying information a relative breeze, while typewriters were the go-to device well before hipsters had a chance to make them cool. However, as the decade wore on, all of this was about to change.

The birth of the computer may have happened many years prior, but the late ’80s lays claim to its coming of age in the enterprise world. From the venerable Apple IIe and its lifelike 80-column monochrome text, highlighted in Popular Mechanics, to the Franklin ACE 2000 series and its gargantuan 128k RAM, the typewriter’s days were officially numbered. Now, if only there was a better alternative to the fax machine …

‘You’ve Got Mail!’

If the ’80s were a revolution in how people created data for communication, the ’90s ushered in the next era in transmitting it. With the advent of local and wide-area networks, as well as the proliferation of the internet as it’s now known, ‘the 90s was a golden era for enterprise communications.

No longer did you have to wait days for mail to be delivered. No longer did you have to make the arduous walk down exactly two flights of stairs to talk to Nancy in accounting. Things were going so well, in fact, that people didn’t mind the alien sounds emanating from their computers’ modems as they connected to the World Wide Web. From email and instant messaging to 28-Kbps modems, it was quite the time to be alive and online.

Welcome to the Present Future

After emerging from the scourge of Y2K unscathed, the new millennium continued upon the successes of the previous decade. As internet speeds exploded, the bandwidth for enterprise communications ballooned. The result was enterprise business solutions that could communicate far more than simple emails.

Voice, data, and rich media now fill the bulk of enterprise communication. From web conferencing to the virtual mailbox, nearly every form of physical communication the business world once relied on now has a digital counterpart. With as much innovation as the past couple decades has unveiled, what could the future possibly hold?

For starters, no one has yet perfected the droid-delivered hologram. Alternatively, augmented and virtual reality will likely position themselves as suitable stopgaps in the near future. Immersive technologies like this will help make enterprise communications more efficient and effective. They say a picture is worth a thousand words — imagine being there in person!

The other technology likely to make a big splash as the future of communication unfolds is artificial intelligence. This will likely take the form of behind-the-scenes analytics platforms rather than walking, talking androids. Nevertheless, these platforms will facilitate streamlined communications, allowing organizations to better understand what truly effective communication looks like.

When you think about it, the leap from carbon paper to virtual reality is pretty substantial. However, enterprise communications has come this far in just a few quick decades. In light of this scorching progress, you might just find a quirky R2 unit delivering holograms sooner than you think!

Speak to a Vonage Business consultant to learn more about the future of business phone systems.

About Joe Hewitson

With a degree in applied computing technology and over a decade of experience in the IT and software development industries, Joe Hewitson has his finger on the pulse of cloud technology. From developing communication applications for the cloud to deploying VoIP solutions in enterprise environments, he’s seen it all. The one thing Joe loves more than staying on the cutting edge of cloud and VoIP technology? Writing about it.

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