Video Conferencing has Bloomed in a Time of Crisis

As the world grapples with a new normal, it is notable that the use of video communications skyrocketed into dominance during the pandemic. This has pushed most providers to better their video conferencing facilities to not only meet increased demand but also provide users with a human experience that evolves with the unprecedented nature of work today. 

COVID-19 Pandemic and Video Conferencing

Previously, video conferencing facilities would have been viewed as nice to have by enterprises. However, the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic has made video conferencing software a must-have for enterprises, as they seek to support hybrid work.

Business travel, talent, and geography

The limitations on travel and trade in various parts of the world during the onset of the pandemic prompted enterprises to provide work-from-home facilities to their workforce. As a result, professionals had to shift to video conferencing on the go in place of physical travel. In addition to the changes to business travel, the pandemic has made enterprises more aware of the staffing opportunity provided by the now non-existent constraints of geography.

Video conferencing tools play a massive role in connecting enterprises with such workforces. As such, video conferencing tools have morphed from merely being a means of conducting virtual meetings to a key collaboration tool for dispersed workforces. For instance, video conferencing now includes standard features such as the ability to share screens, files, and documents as well as other features that sufficiently and legally cater to the evolving needs of virtual meetings.

Also read: 6 New Trends Shaping the Future of Unified Communications (UC)

Video conferencing and workplace equity

As popular as it continues to be, a work-from-anywhere model has inadvertently proven to magnify pre-pandemic workplace inequalities, especially concerning collaboration and interaction. Throughout the duration of the pandemic, it has become increasingly apparent that it is much easier to feel disconnected, isolated, ineffective, and disadvantaged while working from anywhere.

Nonetheless, video conferencing has been providing ways to deal with inequality in the workplace. Firstly, video conferencing platforms have been crucial in providing a much-needed human touch throughout the pandemic. Employees can discern emotion in their workplace communication by interacting with another face through video. Video conferencing technology has supported nuance in remote conversations in comparison to text-based interactions, which can easily provide an aura of distance and isolation.

Video conferencing platforms may be used by teams to create a safe space for employees to have important conversations by providing each participant with an equal opportunity to express themselves. These platforms also level the playing field for workforces of varying abilities such as cognitive and linguistic ones through the evolution of speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and translation features.

Features such as the use of digital whiteboards also satisfy the need for a common canvas during a hybrid meeting setting, where an actual whiteboard would be out of reach to remote employees. Continual improvement of video conferencing platforms brings video interactions as close to in-person interaction as possible. These platforms also play a part in creating and maintaining an organizational culture of teamwork and collaboration to improve productivity and provide a sense of belonging to remote teams.

Also read: Improving Workplace Equity with Unified Communications

Pandemic impact on video conferencing technology

The popularity of video conferencing continues to prompt providers to provide unique, high-quality experiences. Furthermore, the allure of remote working is flexibility, convenience, and efficiency. As work from anywhere takes hold, user experience is becoming a buying criterion that influences the choice of users.

Providers are continuously working to provide a seamless experience across all devices. For instance, they are working to make their tools as easy to use as possible. Simplicity and ease of use is defining the user experience of approaching hybrid work. Additionally, the popularity of video conferencing software that can seamlessly power hybrid meetings will increase.

The pandemic has also challenged providers to improve the video quality of their video conferencing software. And as we charter a new normal with hybrid work, video quality has an increasing influence on the user experience. As a result, HD video is slowly coming online. Providers are working on offering much higher video quality through a shift from 720p to 1080p. Hence, to improve resolution, webcam tests should be done to assure quality.

Artificial Intelligence

As much as there has been a surge in video conferencing adoption, providers face a challenge to ensure users have high-quality meeting experiences regardless of location while also keeping up the burgeoning demand for these tools. The capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) alleviate these challenges while making video conferencing more sophisticated.

The art of taking notes during meetings becomes ever so important during virtual meetings. However, these meetings may be marred by background noise, people talking over each other, technical issues among others. Through machine learning, voice-to-text transcription provides real value by identifying speakers and segmenting their contribution to the meeting thus preventing confusion and simplifying virtual meetings.

Furthermore, transcription and translation technology can take down the language barrier through real-time translation, allowing meetings to be even more inclusive. Such technologies are set to make video conferencing even more popular to a hybrid workforce. Looking forward, in addition to stabilizing the visibility of video calls, computer vision may offer users additional options like color adjustments, interactive backgrounds, and intelligent balancing out of light issues.

AI also has a role to play in providing users with high-resolution video. New compression algorithms are coming up to handle issues of codecs and compression that impact higher resolution video. An example is the NVIDIA Maxine platform, which gives users the ability to provide both low- and high-resolution video without requiring increased bandwidth.

A few video conferencing platforms are leveraging NVIDIA’s platform to remove audio noise from meetings and integrate virtual backgrounds to allow users to overlay their video on top of presentations, leading to impressive video conferencing experiences for all sorts of enterprises. The goal is to offer AI-powered video communications that support virtual meetings that rival the quality of face-to-face meetings.

Nonetheless, true 4K video is the desired capability but is only being offered by a handful of providers. However, with platforms such as NVIDIA Maxine, there is potential to achieve this soon as video quality continues to improve.

The Cloud

At a time where enterprises are increasingly aware of the benefits of remote work, legacy communications and collaboration tools are struggling to keep up with the surging demand and popularity of these tools to remote workforces. The shift to more video-friendly hybrid environments means that all kinds of enterprises not only have access to but also need for video conferencing deployments.

Aside from large enterprises with significant CapEx budgets, on-premises video conferencing deployments provide a barrier to entry for small and medium-sized enterprises. Additionally, considering today’s unprecedented nature of work is based on flexibility, the shift to cloud-based video conferencing platforms is set to continue as they offer as-a-service models that often prove to be cost-effective to enterprises of all sizes.

Scalable deployments are of great value to enterprises now as the needs of hybrid work continue to be unpredictable. Such scalability is exactly what cloud-based deployments offer. The agnosticism of cloud video conferencing deployments also influences the departure from on-premises solutions as organizations benefit from a versatile approach, thus future-proofing their systems. This also promises interoperability that can enhance both meeting room and video conferencing technologies.

Integration

The boom in communications and collaboration platforms leaves users with plenty of choices. However, organizations are deriving more value from having their workflows centralized as opposed to switching between platforms. Resultantly, organizations are realizing that having integration capabilities is key to the success of their approach to hybrid work.

The agnosticism of cloud-based video conferencing software will continue providing endless integration opportunities with unified communications and collaboration platforms. Cloud-based video conferencing software is positioned to play its part in integration with voice as well as third-party applications since more providers are centering their focus on communications platform as a service (CPaaS).

Integration is not limited to software, however, as hardware also affects the quality of digital meeting experiences. Integration between software and hardware allows organizations to easily leverage their hardware solutions to improve the experience of their users. The partnership between software and hardware will continue to power the solution efforts of enterprises and ultimately improve the quality of digital meetings.

Read next: Best UCC Use Cases in WFA Environments

Collins Ayuya
Collins Ayuya
Collins Ayuya is pursuing his Master's in Computer Science and is passionate about technology. He loves sharing his experience in Artificial Intelligence, Telecommunications, IT, and emerging technologies through his writing. He is passionate about startups, innovation, new technology, and developing new products as he is also a startup founder. Collins enjoys doing pencil and graphite art and is also a sportsman, and gamer during his downtime.

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