It seems like the buzz about this being “The year of video!” has been going on forever, doesn’t it? It never seems to come to pass, though. I mean, I’m not sitting on video calls all day, are you? Hold on…come to think of it, I have been sitting on more and more lately. Maybe we are reaching the tipping point where we move to a video first business environment. In a recent conversation with an executive from Cisco, we excitedly discussed how firmly embedded video was in their corporate culture for the great majority of calls and all meetings and how beneficial they found it. But they are Cisco….they should be leading the way, right? What signs are that we may finally be seeing the year of video for us mere business mortals?
As one executive I spoke with puts it, video is going to keep gaining traction because video calls are just better phone calls. And they are, as long as the connections work, the setup is easy and the jitter stays to a minimum. They are more intimate, add another layer of communication capacity (body language, attention, engagement) and just seem….friendlier. In a recent podcast interview with Daryl Hutchings of Collaboration Squared, the maker of Ubiety, we discussed four trends that he sees leading us towards a video-rich future.
Interoperability Lowers Video Conferencing Barriers
This is a big one – getting all the existing software and hardware platforms to play nice with each other so that video collaboration becomes seamless in and out of your company. According to Hutchings, interoperability is taking what the customer already has, whether that be traditional video conferencing endpoints and video meeting rooms, or software platforms like Skype for Business or Cisco Jabber and making sure that the video experience works across all of them and is consistent and easy to use. Platforms like Ubiety are already delivering services to eliminate interoperability as an issue. Addressing this and expanding video’s reach is the reason that Cisco recently acquired Acano.
All Our Devices Handle Video
Video capability is always with you. Whether on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone (and even a lot of deskphones), if you have Internet access, you can jump on a video call almost as easily as a phone call. This ubiquity of video capable devices allows businesses to go beyond simply room-based or desktop video and allows remote teams to collaborate regardless of location, from your desk or a cab or a huddle room or your home office.
Millennials Are Video Natives
In the same way that Millennials are considered Digital Natives, they are also Video Natives. Growing up with Youtube, Skype and Facetime means that millions of twenty-somethings are entering the workforce with the expectation that video will be available and taken advantage of. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s a better phonecall! I would add to this point that Skype and Facetime have not only influenced young people. Millions and millions of Baby Boomers and older workers have been exposed to the benefits of video conferencing, not only at work, but at home. Calls with the grandkids, anyone?
It wasn’t that long ago that video conferencing and video bridging systems cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. And not that many people could participate. Now video conferencing is as cheap as free (Skype), included in Microsoft Office 365 / Skype for Business, available on pretty much any web collaboration platform (like WebEx) and is expanding like crazy with WebRTC. Related: Download WebRTC for Dummies.
We’ve talked about some of the lower priced options for huddle rooms / small conference rooms like Google Chromebox and the benefits of an interoperability focused platform like Ubeity. If there is one thing that will make businesses sit up and take notice, it is when a product that is proven to improve collaboration and lower corporate expenses suddenly becomes affordable.
Some Reasons This Still May Not Be the Year of Video
These are all compelling reasons to think we will continue to find ourselves invited to (or even starting) more and more video conferences. But does that mean video has crossed the chasm and we should expect to be seen as well as heard on the majority of our business calls? Probably not. Yet.
Culture Takes Time to Adapt Than You Might Think
The companies that I know of that have successfully instituted a video first approach to business have done so with an ‘eat our own dogfood’ mentality. “We have this capability, we’re going to use it damnit.” Even with that mandate, it can take a number of years before video really gets embedded in day-to-day activities. As someone said to me, “It took a while for the initial resistance to wear off. I knew it was really taking off when people started showing up in meetings after just getting home from the gym, or people were jumping on early morning team meetings with baseball hats on because it was only 6AM on the west coast and it was just too early to be dressed and ready for the day.” And these businesses are early adopters…don’t be surprised to see that measured adoption rate continue with businesses lacking such firm commitment.
Video-first Requires a Kick-ass Network
I think most of us have been on a video call with terrible jitter. I’ve been on several when everyone agrees to just shut off the video to improve quality because we don’t know what or who is causing the problem. In a recent interview with ANPI, they suggested that business use the 1 in 6 rule that when planning their network for UC. That is that one in every six phones will be in use at any given time. Now imagine all of those phone calls are video calls. What does that mean to your network and what will you need to do to support them? Where might things break down?
To sum up, I do expect to sit on a bunch more video calls this year than last. I don’t expect that it will come anywhere near a majority of my calls. 2016 will likely be a year of video acceleration, but not the year of video explosion.
What about your business? Are you adopting a video first approach to work? Have a success story to share? A swing and a miss? Get in touch in the comments section below.