The year ahead for PR

Cicero & Bernay’s Ahmad Itani writes on the growing emphasis of unified communications in the MENA region

The year 2023 was marked, or marred, depending on who you ask, by the continuing prevalence of artificial intelligence. Everything has changed, and we are still collectively trying to navigate its promised potential while attempting to avoid its inevitable impact on the creativity of communication.

Technically and functionally, AI’s impact, like a mushroom cloud rising from the deflagration of performance, will continue to overturn industries for years to come.

As such, let’s not dwell long upon it and set it aside on a visible shelf to make way for other aspects that have been shaking up the MENA communication sphere from behind two-way mirrors.

As we step into 2024, we are entering an exciting new era where businesses are flourishing and trailblazing novel pathways of connection, collaboration and success in a dynamic digital world.

Sounds like a claim circa any time from the previous two decades, I am aware, but such is the rapid pace of innovation.

Zooming in from the broader outlook to hone in on progress in the MENA, the region is on the brink of another transformation. This is driven by the meteoric rise of unified communications (UC), a technological framework that integrates various communication methods within a business.

This is allowing individuals and teams to communicate seamlessly across multiple channels and platforms, including voice, video, messaging, and email, all within a single interface.

While UC is designed to improve efficiency and collaboration by simplifying and streamlining the communication process, regardless of location or device, it is far from another technological trend. In fact,  it’s a ground-breaking shift redefining the essence of business connectivity and collaboration.

Within this revolutionary pivot lies a profound emphasis on a hybrid-first culture.

Companies across the MENA region are rapidly embracing tools and technologies for seamless remote collaboration, a transition that is transcending mere geographical adaptability to represent a significant reimagining of the workplace, championing accessibility, inclusivity and adaptability.

As the lines between virtual and physical office spaces continue to blur, the demand for UC solutions catering equally to in-office and remote employees is soaring to unprecedented heights.

While many businesses are still testing the waters or, at worst, hesitant to embrace the burgeoning trend of asynchronous communication, especially in video formats, it is set to continue to revolutionise workplace dynamics, which, in the diverse and geographically dispersed workforce of the MENA region, will continue to prove pivotal.

Time constraints are increasingly being eroded and dismantled to make way for individuals to record and access content at their leisure. How does this apply to the communication sector, whose demands are often instantaneous and require immediate attention?

You need not replace one with the other, and while there will always be impending urgencies to tackle, allowing members to operate at their leisure results in a work culture that is both inclusively diverse and remarkably efficient.

The future of UC, intertwined with AI, heralds a new era where sophisticated algorithms provide deep, actionable insights, automate complex tasks, and streamline scheduling processes.

This profound transformation elevates UC from mere communication tools to advanced, intelligent systems, significantly enhancing decision-making and productivity across diverse organisational frameworks, evolving UC platforms into comprehensive solutions that masterfully address customer and employee needs.

Ultimately, at the heart of every technological innovation, especially in the realm of unified communications, lies a fundamental truth: the innate human desire for connection.

Technology, no matter how advanced, strives to emulate and facilitate the connections that are intrinsic to our nature, connections we have always sought and nurtured.

These innovations are reflections of our timeless pursuit of understanding, collaboration, and togetherness, underscoring that at the core of all our advancements is the simple, yet profound, need to connect with one another.

By Ahmad Itani, CEO and Founder of Cicero & Bernay