If you follow me here, you’ll know that over the past few months I’ve been exploring various questions regarding various communications applications, such as telephony and email. Habits become deeply ingrained, and we don’t often give them much thought, making this a great topic for my Rethinking Communications column.
Equally challenging is changing habits around things we don’t use, and that brings us to yet another communications application that merits rethinking, namely video. Just like telephony and email, video has been around for decades, and there are lots of valid reasons why it hasn’t gained much traction with businesses. Aside from the fact that most people – especially pre-millennials – aren’t all that comfortable being on camera, there have been ongoing issues around cost, complexity, user experience, limited options, lack of accessibility, etc.
Video technology keeps maturing, and with that comes increased business value, but only if people use it. If you’re willing and able to put all the legacy-based obstacles aside, a rethink will cast video in a new light, no pun intended. To get you thinking that way, over the next two articles, I’m going to outline three reasons why you and your employees should be using video. In short, it’s easier, better, and cheaper than you might think, and if I can get you to that point, the next step for deploying video will be a short one. I’ll start with the first reason, and address the other two in next month’s piece.
Reason No. 1 – Many Options
If you haven’t followed trends, video has never been easier to use now, largely because there are so many viable options. In the legacy world, video was built on expensive hardware, meaning that only a few could use it, usually in dedicated meeting rooms. This option still exists, but there are two other scenarios that vastly open up possibilities for everyone to use video.
Before getting to those, it’s important to note that today’s dedicated video spaces provide a rich experience – known as immersive video or telepresence – and are best for larger-scale meetings where face-to-face dialog is absolutely needed. This option is still costly, but offers more flexibility than legacy systems, and is getting cheaper all the time. More importantly, when meetings cannot take place in person and you need a real-time experience, dedicated video rooms are by far the next best thing, especially when big decisions are on the line.
The other two options really change the video equation; not only are they more accessible to employees, but they are ideal for ad hoc meetings. Legacy video really only works for scheduled, structured meetings, and as the workplace is becoming more fluid with employees in disparate places, unscheduled meetings with video become instrumental for collaborating on the fly or on short timelines. These realities are the drivers for alternate settings to use video, namely non-dedicated video meeting spaces and personal use video.
Non-dedicated spaces are better known as huddle rooms, and are really coming into vogue now. Unlike a dedicated meeting room where the video system is fixed and customized for a particular environment, huddle rooms are flexible by design.
First off, they’re smaller, since they are meant for smaller teams to work in a less formal setting. By extension, this means that businesses can have several of these onsite, providing more spaces for collaboration. With this small size, the scale of video systems is reduced, so the cost of providing several video-enabled spaces is manageable, even for SMBs. Not only are the video endpoints and systems relatively inexpensive – but still HD quality, but the space itself doesn’t require customization. These rooms are multi-use by design, and that’s part of the appeal – video meetings are just one of many ways these spaces can be used.
The third option is personal video, and truly takes the use case analysis to another level. While the first two options are really meant for teams, video is emerging as a great application for individual communication. Not all one-to-one interactions require video, but habits are changing, and when video becomes as routine and intuitive as making a phone call, adoption will follow. Aside from the fact that today’s video offerings provide a great small screen experience, endpoints have evolved to keep pace. Desktop video on the PC has been widely used for years, but mobile broadband has made smartphones and tablets ideal video endpoints for today’s mobile-first employees. To remain relevant, even the IP phone vendors have entered the mix, with video support being a standard feature on many new models.
This is just a brief outline to show how all these options create the conditions for video across an ever-widening range of settings. There is much more to consider in terms of evolving technologies such as the cloud and WebRTC and how vendors are taking a more standardized approach around their video offerings. I’ll address these another time, but for now I’m setting the stage for Part 2, where I’ll address two more reasons why you should be using video.
Jon Arnold is principal of J Arnold & Associates, an independent telecom analyst and marketing consultancy with a focus on IP communications, and writes the Analyst 2.0 blog. Previously, he was the VoIP program leader at Frost & Sullivan.
Edited by Alicia Young