Traditionally businesses have led the way in communications innovation. Over the next ten years this will no longer be the case and, as we have already seen to some extent with the likes of Twitter and Facebook, we will increasingly see businesses follow where the consumer market leads.
The online identity of an employee will become increasingly important. Individuals can map their social networks to a greater level of granularity than ever before. A strong online identity which includes communication channels such as phone numbers, web addresses, Facebook pages and instant messaging profiles will become increasingly important to business networking. Employees are beginning to habitually move jobs more frequently than their predecessors, so they will require a fully portable communications profile that they can take with them when they move.
Businesses will no longer provide email addresses and phone numbers to their employees but will instead take their employees' existing profiles and overlay the company's branding for the duration of the individual's time with them. These communication channels will be location and device independent, instead being mapped to the employee. They will be carried to whichever technology is in use at the time, whether that is a phone handset or a soft client on a laptop.
The result of these changes is that relationships between businesses and telecoms operators will become more important. With a wider variety of communications services layered across the network and offered over the cloud, businesses will need to trust their communications providers in a way never seen before. It is up to the telecoms industry to ensure that it offers reliable and secure solutions which enable more innovative working practices than today – operators that manage to do this successfully will prosper in the new communications landscape.