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UC Insights 2018: Lifesize and the Year of Video: Predictions from the CTO

We speak to the CTO of Lifesize about his 2018 UC predictions

UC Insights 2018: Lifesize and the Year of Video: Predictions from the CTO

Lifesize, a company known for their innovative approach to the world of cloud-based video conferencing, have been making some huge strides in the industry over the last year or so. As they move forward into 2018, the company has some big plans on how to make the meeting room experience more immersive and engaging for the next generation of professionals.

I had the chance to sit down with Bobby Beckmann, the CTO of Lifesize, to speak about where the cloud-based video conferencing company is heading. Bobby has more than two decades of experience in the world of product development, and his insight into the video market has given him some fantastic ideas on the trends that could change our workplaces during the next year.

Do You Think 2018 is The Year of Video?

Throughout our strategic UC Insights series, we spoke to numerous vendors and brands who believe that 2018 will truly be the “year of video”. As an HD video conferencing company, I was keen to find out whether Lifesize felt the same way.

Bobby told me that most people still aren’t using video in their conference room experiences. While the technology is out there, for them it’s about making that technology as tempting, and accessible as possible.

“As more of the millennial generation enter the marketplace, the ways that people prefer to interact will change. The younger generation is far more comfortable with being ‘on-screen’ than some of the older professionals in the workforce today, so it’s about appealing to that new market and making it so that people want to use video.”

Lifesize believes that the key to creating the age of video is developing products that put customer experience first. For instance, as the conference room becomes more of a critical component in the increasingly dispersed global workforce, Millennials, Generation X customers, and other people with a love of technology will want a fully immersive video experience. Bobby told me that “the little things may have the biggest impact.”

“Like 4K, a lot of people think it looks the same as HD, but it actually feels and looks a lot more natural when you spend a lot of time using it. It’s these small things that gradually improve the conferencing experience, making people feel like they’re really in the room.”

What Do You Think about Interoperability?

As we move into 2018, more companies will need to work and play nicely together if they want to provide their customers with a complete end-to-end experience. While interoperability might not be as exciting of a trend to talk about as some of the other buzz-worthy topics in the industry, it’s a crucial aspect of success for the modern video brand.

Bobby told me: “Making third-party devices work in our ecosystem is going to continue to be a big priority for us next year. We’ll be adding stuff to make sure that our customers can continue to get an exceptional experience with us, regardless of how they choose to use our systems.”

Ultimately, for Lifesize, and many other companies, it’s all about delivering next-level user experience by ensuring that clients get the same amazing experience wherever they are, and whatever device they might be using.

“I believe that the trend of consolidation will continue in 2018, as companies of all shapes and sizes come together to build more holistic solutions for their marketplace.”

What Are Your Predictions for AI and Machine Learning?

Just as Lifesize feels that today’s customers are beginning to feel more comfortable with the concept of video calls instead of audio conferences, they also believe that today’s end-user feels more natural when talking to their devices. We use virtual assistants more often today than ever before, thanks to the persistence of things like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and more. Bobby told me that he thinks AI, machine learning, and the rise of virtual assistants could be essential to changing the meeting room environment.

“I think the trick with AI is getting your devices to listen to what you need, so you can enjoy having conversations, without having to worry about optimising the meeting afterward. With AI and virtual assistants, you can make sure you’re gathering all the data you need, and performing follow-up instantly, so that meetings can take less time out of your day.”

Lifesize believes that at a basic level, AI could be the solution that helps to determine the ideal number of participants for a meeting or the best time of day to hold a conference. Virtual recognition software could allow companies to analyse the content of their meetings, and improve the experiences that coworkers and clients have over time.

“I think when you find a solution for AI that actually changes the way you work, that’s when you’ve got something truly explosive.”

How Could Machine Learning Enhance Video?

Continuing the discussion on AI, Bobby told me that he feels the next level for machine learning will be in the world of visual context – simply training AIs to determine whether people are engaged in conferences or not. With machine vision and the use of smarter cameras in the workplace, it will be possible for businesses to gather information about how a meeting is proceeding. The results could be like the ones we’re already seeing with sentiment analysis for customer service calls.

For larger meetings, there may be multiple cameras in a single room, evaluating how well people are following the conversation. The opportunities don’t stop with the conference space either.

“You could conduct a video lesson with an e-learning group and use AI to figure out whether your class was engaged by the course material or not. This is where video gets really interesting. Right now, we’re just using these things for communication, but we could be using it to develop better interactions in the future.”

Looking at the Future with Lifesize

It’s hard to predict how any industry will grow with complete precision – particularly in a sector that’s as diverse and disruptive as communications. However, Lifesize believes that emerging technologies like machine learning, 4K, and AI will help to transform the space for collaboration companies in the next few years and we are really excited to be a part of this big transition.

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