You’re at the airport again, waiting for another flight and your team has called an emergency meeting to deal with a customer escalation. As your team routinely meets via video now, you plug your headset into your tablet, double click on the video conferencing app. In less than a minute, you’re brainstorming with Brad in Atlanta, and Tammy in Chicago on how to support this new requirement from the customer.
Being effective wherever you are has become de rigeur for the last 5-10 years. Laptops and smartphones enable mobile workers to be accessible while on the move, you can talk, text, email and instant message. Video conversations have or are being added to this workspace of the future.
video is coming of age
Consumers have long been used to Skype video calls on their computers, and Apple introduced Facetime across their iPhone, iPad and Mac devices. This consumer usage has eased the way for user adoption in enterprises. Video conferencing had some bad press to overcome – in the early days, it was difficult to set up video calls via ISDN, the quality was poor and the experience never encouraged continuous usage.
But in the last 5 years, the technology has had a facelift with the considerable marketing might of Cisco behind it. Rebranding the technology as Telepresence, Cisco pushed the updated life-size, HD quality service as an immersive experience. And indeed, the new video conferencing offered a better experience, and pretty soon, companies who bought these rooms started to see significant utilization rates – 70-75% is common for companies who had more than 5 rooms. Users liked using video to meet their colleagues, it improved relations on teams, participants paid more attention during the meetings and it felt like you could achieve more.
So, what if each person could participate not only from specific video meeting rooms, but also from their desktop, laptop and even mobile devices? Then, there would be no physical limiting factor in terms of scheduling rooms. Additionally, no additional hardware was required, instead just a software client that could be installed on their existing devices, or as part of the corporate unified communications platform or even by clicking a web link from a meeting invite, immediately video conferencing would become available to every employee in the company.
For video to be the new phone, ubiquity is necessary. And that ubiquity is achieved on personal devices. And as most remote workers have smartphones and increasingly tablets, the main vendors Polycom and Cisco have been scrambling to enable video conferencing on them. The confluence of technology, user interest and economic pressures have converged to drive the growth of video from the boardrooms to the individual users of global companies.
Has your company enabled you to use video on a personal device? What was the experience like? Is it something you see yourself doing more in the future?
Ann is currently the Head of International Video Business in Orange. This means that she works with Orange teams help enterprises around the world adopt video conferencing to enable their organization to work together better. A 17-year veteran of the global telecoms industry, Ann is thrilled to be working on this most human of communication services these last four years. A Malaysian by birth, Ann is now based in the suburbs of Washington DC.