Video has long been the wild card with collaboration, and most IT decision-makers have a love-hate relationship with it. When you can’t meet in-person, nothing is more immersive than video, but not everyone likes being on camera, and the user experience is highly variable. The installed base of legacy video systems remains large, but it’s complex to use, complex to manage, and the use cases are limited to where the equipment resides. When you also consider the high cost of these systems, and the fact they generally don’t integrate with anything else, it’s easy to understand why video has not been core to collaboration offerings.
As with just about everything else in the communications realm, a lot has changed technology-wise with video, and the above barriers to adoption have largely been overcome. Technology aside, digital natives are more comfortable using video, especially since it’s become so common with consumer applications. I regularly attend industry events, and for many of them, video is now a leading application.
That’s a big change from recent times, and if you haven’t considered video lately, you’re due for a refresh. The value proposition from the vendors is stronger now, and to help IT decision-makers assess the fit for your broader collaboration plans, here are four factors to consider.
1. Workforce is More Distributed
This trend is only going to continue, and with that, there will be greater need for virtual collaboration. Remote working has become the mode of choice, especially among digital natives, and many businesses are looking to reduce occupancy costs, not to mention cut down stress for workers with soul-crushing commutes. While the rationale is strong here for all parties, this model cannot succeed unless remote workers can collaborate effectively with their peers in the office, or anywhere else for that matter.
Audio-only conference calls have been the standard for decades, but are only effective for the most basic forms of team work. Since teams are rarely able to meet in-person, businesses need better tools to make virtual meetings productive. The key for any meeting to be effective is to ensure all participants are engaged and fully present, and that’s hard to do with legacy meeting applications. For virtual meetings, video is the best application to keep everyone engaged, so it stands to reason that you need this as your workforce becomes more distributed.
2. UX Has Never Been Easier
Complexity has long been a holdback for video, especially before desktop applications became â€œgood enoughâ€ for business use. Legacy systems often required dedicated AV expertise that added to the high cost of video, as well as ensuring that only the most tech-savvy employees â€“ not to mention highest-ranking â€“ would have access to this technology. On top of this, there are many video standards and protocols, and interoperability has always been problematic. While it may be easy to run a video meeting among co-workers within your four walls and connected to the LAN, adding external parties such as partners, suppliers or even remote workers was challenging to say the least.
With the advent of IP-based networks and cloud-based video platforms, the all-important user experience â€“ UX â€“ has become much easier and intuitive. There’s no need for AV staff to set up a meeting and troubleshoot it, and workers can join meetings via video now from any endpoint. Not only that, but the process for joining a meeting requires just a few mouse clicks or screen swipes, and with that, video becomes accessible to all your workers, not just a select few.
3. UX Has Never Been Better
Aside from being easy to use video, the UX during a meeting is far more engaging than with legacy applications. Being a real-time application, audio and video needs to be in synch, and that’s rarely a problem now. Variable bitrate codecs allow for dynamic fine-tuning to ensure a consistently good UX when lighting conditions vary, or bandwidth supply fluctuates.
Both HD audio and video are more the norm now, and this really helps virtual meetings be the next best thing to meeting in-person. Video applications are also more tightly integrated with collaboration platforms like UC, making the overall UX more seamless for getting things done like file-sharing, whiteboarding or co-creating. These are just a few examples of how today’s video can take collaboration to the next level.
4. AI is Transforming Meetings
Beyond all of this, you must consider the impact of AI on video, along with the overall collaboration UX. To varying degrees, AI is being used now for applications such as real-time transcription, real-time translation, facial recognition, authenticating meeting participants, helping optimize the utilization of meeting spaces, and dynamically adjusting the image quality and proportions based on room dimensions, the number of people and the lighting conditions. Each of these examples warrants further analysis, but the main takeaway is that AI is maturing quickly, with many great use cases that help make video a transformative driver for collaboration.