Happy New Year! We are now at the start of 2016 and it will be exciting to see what will happen this year. Given everything that happened in the field of communication and collaboration solutions in 2015, I have been given the task of trying to look twelve months ahead and predict what will dominate this area. I believe that this is what 2016 will offer us:
The digital “travel-free” customer meeting
The technology for embedded real-time video, audio and content sharing in browsers has come so far that it is now possible to have proper remote customer meetings. We have already seen some attempts at this kind of technology, but it is only now that it is becoming stable enough for customers to be actually ready to try it. In 2015 we saw Nordea and Försäkringskassan (Social Insurance Agency) launch this type of remote customer meeting and we believe that many more will launch similar services in order to offer better service and support for complex customer meetings, where the customer is not physically present. This is a natural development of other digital offerings.
The digital meeting with colleagues and partners will become business-critical.
The use of digital meetings between colleagues and / or business partners will mature in the sense that the majority of employees will have access to solutions from their own PC or mobile device. In addition to this the cost will drop and the quality will improve. The digital meeting as a solution will become a natural part of the digital workplace in 2016. We also believe that for many organisations this year, digital meetings will become just as business-critical as e-mail and telephony.
Desktop video and meeting room video will finally come together.
For many years we have heard customers say that they want to be able to tie together their room-based video solution with their personal communication- clients on their laptop or mobile device. Whilst there have been products and opportunities to enable this to a certain extent, the experience has been poor and the operation of it complicated. During recent times we have seen a positive development where video systems register directly against the UC platform and integration services have improved. Cisco’s purchase of Acano and Polycom’s work on Real Connect shows that interoperability between platforms for video is important. The key to success is simplicity in booking meetings and simplicity in joining meetings. Without these two, it will fail!
Right place, with the right equipment at the right time
Whoever did military service will recognise this phrase! One clear trend is that there is less need for a traditional conference room with a video system at one end of the room. Instead of using one large room with expensive systems which often have fairly low usage rate, several smaller rooms can be used for the work that really need to be done. Of course large rooms can still be used where needed but the traditional room is no longer synonymous with a video conference. A video meeting can take place from the sofa with a laptop on your knee, in a small group room for 2-3 people, or a room with just a large sofa. It is about equipping the room and yourself correctly and creating the right conditions for it to work.
Content is king and silence is golden but good audio quality in meetings is very important!
Maybe not a trend, but let 2016 be the year where we stop wasting each other’s time by sitting in meetings and pretending to hear what is said! HD audio is becoming a necessity for all solutions, from switchboards to mobile phones. For the entire chain to work we have to equip ourselves with the right audio devices and ensure that we have a functioning network. A “puck” in a conference room with six people is not enough and an iPhone headset in a busy office environment does not provide a good experience for people on the other end.
Global cloud software-based telephony becomes reality
With the launch of cloud-based telephony from Cisco and Microsoft, 2016 will be the first year where there will the opportunity to gain access to almost all global software-based telephony solutions. We are going to experience the first version of these services in 2016 but the development will move fast. Simplification, centralisation and globalisation will be key words in the planning of future global communication solutions for geographically dispersed organisations.
Digital stress will be managed as a working environment problem
The number of digital solutions for communication and collaboration in our professional and private lives will continue to increase. The integration of these solutions will not get better; on the contrary we will use different applications for different types of communication and collaboration. Everything will automatically be available via the mobile, everywhere, 24/7. This will eventually affect many users and employees negatively if HR departments do not engage seriously with this. We see tendencies in many of our customers that this is beginning to happen which is why we believe that 2016 will be the year where HR and IT come together to proactively manage digital-related stress as a working environment issue. Conscious choices, clear guidance and training are all part of the solution for retaining employees’ energy and commitment.
These then are the trends which I believe we will see in 2016. Several of these topics are issues which we have talked about at UClarity for several years and it will be very interesting to follow developments during the year. If you wish to discuss any of these issues you are naturally welcome to get in touch with us or leave a comment below.