Guest Blog by Scott Stephenson, CEO and co-founder of Deepgram
Video conferencing is not a new phenomenon—In fact, businesses and consumers have been using video conferencing platforms to communicate since the original Skype launch of 2003. Since then, video conferencing has matured, and new players like GoToMeeting and Zoom have entered the scene to better address pain points that businesses and employees face. A handful of video conferencing platforms have also introduced features into their product offerings to reduce repetitive work and streamline communication between co-workers outside of the original video meeting. While video conferencing has provided a much-needed avenue for connection in a time of remote work, there is still room for improvement – leading providers are missing opportunities to benefit users past the in-meeting experience.
As the way we work continues to shift, companies need to address these changes head-on and provide workers with the tools they need to be successful. Here are three ways that video conferencing providers can better support a remote workforce.
One area that video conferencing providers can improve is to offer an accurate audio transcript of the conference call for participants following the meeting. Currently offered with Zoom calls, this gives participants a skimmable account of what happened on the call, without having to re-watch or listen to the meeting recording. However, while having the call transcript is helpful, it shouldn’t be the final solution when aiming to reduce the time spent searching for information.
The next step to the equation is to identify keywords that may come up in a conference call and make it so the most important parts of the transcript are noted first. We see this often implemented in call centres where they are receiving a high volume of calls related to the same subject matter. IVR systems provide the ability to identify keywords or phrases which then allows the customer to be redirected to the correct call centre representative for help. The same keywords can be used to automatically search through an existing repository and surface the results automatically to an agent in real-time or referenced after the fact to identify trends in the customer service inquiries.
Similarly, incorporating keywords and phrases such as “agenda” or “next steps” into video conferencing solutions will streamline offline communication for employees as well, especially in a time of remote work when they are unable to have one-off conversations with a co-worker. For example, Voicea makes it so that if a co-worker is mentioned, but not present on a call, that person could be sent the relevant portion of the audio recording or transcript based on the designated keywords that were set up, reducing back-and-forth phone calls and emails.
Another area that video conferencing platforms can improve is to incorporate a “knowledge base” or a repository of automatic meeting notes and meeting information to act as a “source of truth” for employees to refer back to.
Having this knowledge base would allow employees to quickly reference meeting notes and bookmark critical parts of a conversation, such as overarching discussion topics and action items. This makes it so call transcripts can be easily accessible and interpreted to reduce repetitive work. Implementing one designated area for meeting information to be stored and easily searched will reduce time spent looking for certain pinpoints in the transcript, improving productivity and streamlining communication across remote teams.
Shifting to an entirely remote workforce doesn’t mean that company culture has to suffer as a result. Now more than ever, recreating the “in-person” office environment is essential to boosting employee morale and creating a sense of unity. As a remote workforce becomes widely prevalent, we will see more companies begin to offer a “virtual office experience,” allowing employees to start face-to-face conversations or raise a hand to a co-worker, something that Zoom recently implemented to its video conferencing servicer, with the goal of recreating a deskside conversation in a traditional office. One company that does this well is Tandem, a messaging app that offers co-working and spontaneous conversation features for employees. Simulating the conventional office experience will be crucial while entire teams are remote to better facilitate collaboration among team members.
Pivoting your business to a remote workforce and rolling out the correct technology to support your team will not happen overnight. These changes take time both to develop and implement within an organization. Most video conferencing providers have yet to find an accurate speech recognition solution to power these “offline” experiences. The longer we work remotely, the more innovation will become necessary. New challenges will continue to arise as it relates to accessing important information and connecting with co-workers in a meaningful way, and as a result, we will also see video conferencing providers rise to the challenge and develop new solutions to support this shift in our workforce.