Video still a UC&C star

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Group communications tools like Slack and HipChat have shown great growth in recent times, leveraging the Millennial generation’s demand for always-on, convenient group chat apps in the workplace. Slack recently passed 4 million daily users, and its frictionless nature seems to suit Millennial workers.

The correlation between Millennials using personal social and chat apps and using unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) apps in the workplace seems quite a logical one. But if we accept this, then has there been a similar impact from other consumer communications apps like Skype and Facetime, with their video calling focus, on the enterprise environment?

Well yes, quite possibly there has.

Changing devices, changing attitudes, changing apps

In the enterprise, video conferencing (VC) was always considered largely the preserve of high-end conference rooms for senior executives and board members. The technology was generally dominated by a handful of companies offering high-cost services to larger organizations. However, the rapid advance of cloud services has enabled small and midsize companies to use video conferencing technology too, with UC subsequently helping shift the technology from the conference suite to desktops and mobile devices.

Further to this, the popularity of consumer video-calling apps such as Skype and FaceTime has continued to force video conferencing vendors to make tools more accessible and easier to use. Skype alone boasts more than 300 million active monthly users, while January this year saw Zoom, a video and Web conferencing service, overtake the hugely successful Slack as the fastest-growing app of the previous six months, with a growth rate of 67 percent as people jumped on board the Video Calling as a Service (VCaaS) bandwagon. The success of these types of consumer video calling solutions has encouraged companies of all sizes to begin enjoying the benefits that video offers over voice,  such as face-to-face interaction between geographically disparate employees and teams without the need to travel.

In a Wainhouse Research survey, 90 percent of IT decision makers said they had used video conferencing in the previous month. The huge number of personal and cloud-based communications apps being used, added to the increased consumerisation of video calling by Millennials and the introduction of solutions like Workplace by Facebook, indicates that video conferencing and collaboration are on the up. The Wainhouse study also found that in 2015, 60 percent of video calls involved content sharing as users collaborated.

Millennial influence changing workplace video collaboration

Video is clearly here to stay: Facebook users now watch over 100 million hours of video per day, powered forward by younger end-users, and as video on a mobile device becomes second nature to this generation of users, it will ultimately influence mobile video’s use in the enterprise. This Millennial user influence seems to be having a knock-on effect, with 54 percent of businesses responding to a WebMetrics survey stating they now use video in more than 25 percent of web conferences.

At the recent UC Expo in London a few speakers cited interoperability and usability as major stumbling blocks to increasing the popularity and use of video collaboration tools in the enterprise. In the past, video conferencing systems could be limited and not focused on the user experience – or at least not on giving a similar experience users get from consumer grade video collaboration tools. That is now a practice that vendors have concentrated on changing. 

What are the benefits?

There has always been research that backs video as a useful collaboration tool – the technology delivery mechanism just needed to catch up. For starters, companies that use video conferencing can reduce business travel costs by significant amounts. Productivity gets a clear boost, with a Polycom survey showing 96 percent of business communications professionals saying that video conferencing improves productivity and that through use of VC, the average attention span of conference attendees grows from 23 minutes to 35 minutes.

The market forecasts also indicate a technology on the rise. Transparency Market Research predicts the video conferencing market will reach $7.85 billion by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of 8.5 percent. Video adds value to UC&C tools and looks like it is only going to continue growing.

To read more about how Orange helps companies drive productivity, reduce costs and improve collaboration with unified communications, please visit: http://www.orange-business.com/en/unified-communications

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.