An insight into the rise of video - we ask the experts
Video is no longer an option for most business leaders.
Wherever you go, companies are leveraging video for collaboration, brand building, and customer service. Though the need for video technology has been evident for some time, demand has now exploded since the 2020 pandemic. By 2027, experts predict that video conferencing will be worth $9.2 billion.
To leverage the benefits of video conferencing for productivity, communication, and customer experience purposes, companies are rapidly turning to leading video and VCaaS providers. In today’s roundtable, we’re going to be speaking to representatives from some of the top video vendors.
We asked RingCentral, PGi, Pexip, and Lifesize how video conferencing and VCaaS has evolved since the pandemic hit. Read on for their insights into the opportunities in video, the challenges customers face, and the positive trends that could be on the horizon.
2020 changed the world on a significant scale. Suddenly, companies worldwide were accelerating their digital transformation strategies, embracing more video conferencing technology to stay connected, and investing in cloud software. When the COVID pandemic hit, 67% of companies increased their spending strategy to include video conferencing. The web and video conferencing category for business technology also saw a massive 500% increase.
We asked our VCaaS experts what significant changes they saw in the video marketing following the events of 2020.
Will Moxley – SVP and Chief Product Officer, RingCentral:
Chief Product Officer and SVP of RingCentral, Will Moxley, said that the pandemic normalized the concept of remote work. Teams have grown more comfortable with the concept of working through video. However, we’ve also become more aware of the things we don’t want from remote working years ahead.
“VC has been an enormous enabler, but even I can become exhausted by constant video calls. In short, we need to be smarter about how we arrange meetings and collaborate.”
Moxley noted that RingCentral unifies channels across mobile and desktop, including video, messaging, and phone. This delivers a more contextual experience that extends throughout the meeting, as well as before and after it. “You can start and join meetings from a message, send a pre-meeting agenda, assign tasks in the group, and share post-meeting notes and action items for a complete pre-, during, and post-meeting experience.”
Siobhan Lyons – Senior Director Global Product & Projects, Collaboration, PGi:
Senior Director of Global Product and Projects for PGi, Siobhan Lyons, said that before COVID-19, video conferencing was already gaining traction – though particularly in larger companies. The workforce still relied heavily on in-person interactions. When the pandemic hit, it pushed the adoption of VC to a new level.
“VC emerged as a lifeline to connect employees socially and professionally, to create virtual neighbourhoods and teams supported by digital connectivity, communication, and collaboration.”
Lyons said that the accelerate pace of digital transformation and remote work migrations represent two massive driving forces in the market. Companies are now shifting staff to a permanent work from home or hybrid model, making virtual interactions the new norm.
Karl Hantho, president of the Americas, Pexip:
President of the Americas at Pexip, Karl Hantho, said that the events of 2020 revealed the clear promise and power of video conferencing, as it became a critical tool. The sudden demand for video was immediately apparent as companies began to work more frequently from home. When workers had to start operating from home in March, companies adapted video platforms at an incredible scale.
Karl noted that many teams suddenly switched to a video-first culture to reduce the feelings of isolation. The growth of video cases in telehealth and virtual care is significant too. “For instance, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s Video Connect app, built on Pexip, reached 170,000 weekly video visits at the peak of usage in 2020, and demand scaled 1000% in response to the pandemic.”
Bobby Beckmann, general manager of meeting solutions, Lifesize:
Bobby Beckmann, Lifesize’s General Manager of Meeting solutions, said that the biggest impact 2020 had on the video environment was that almost overnight, people started relying heavily on SaaS and cloud-based meeting environments. These spaces were powered by laptops and mobile devices, and companies relied on video for everything from internal discussions to connecting with customers.
“Ease of use, reliability, and scalability won the day. As pandemic recovery and a gradual migration back to the workplace continue, we’ll transition into a more hybrid work model, where teams split between in-person and remote work. Meeting rooms will resume utility, and the devices in them will experience a resurgence.”
The sudden switch to a new way of work presented huge challenges for many companies in the year of 2020. Yet, unfortunately, poor work conferencing practices can have a major impact on success. Studies suggest that issues with conferencing can cause up to $34 billion in lost productivity and time. Companies had to suddenly make the shift to video at a much faster rate than expected in 2020.
This meant that few organisations had a chance to fully assess all of their options before settling on a video provider. In the rush to keep people connected and keep the lights on in the business, companies stumbled into video conferencing, often facing issues with everything from difficult setup processes to security issues. The challenges of the initial switch to digital also offered some useful lessons to companies willing to evolve. We asked our experts what the biggest challenges seen by VC users were in 2020.
Will Moxley of RingCentral says that one of the biggest challenges of remote work is the demand to build meaningful relationships with each other in a digital environment. Colleagues who already knew each other before the lockdown had an advantage. However, opportunities for team building between new employees were limited.
“In the absence of traditional team building activities, virtual get-togethers became the solution. RingCentral Video allowed plenty of creative ways to bond from anywhere and everywhere with virtual happy hours, ice-breaker v-coffees, cook-alongs all being carried out by VC”
Moxley notes that solutions like RingCentral Video helped employees to stay connected during the working day, but they also assisted with socialization too.
PGi’s Siobhan Lyons said that organisations and employees weren’t fully equipped for the rapid pace of digital transformation prompted by COVID-19. This resulted in lack of social interactions for employees initially and a lack of confidence in the toolkits provided.
To survive, companies needed to rethink their approach and create an appropriate plan:
“In one short year, the populous of the world has embraced VC, developed expert level skills, and developed an appetite to consume more advanced feature sets”
Lyons notes that video conferencing providers are offering new features and solutions to meet demands, like virtual backgrounds that make interactions more comfortable in the home office, screen and file sharing, ease of accessibility options, and security systems. The modern VCaaS solution is quick, easy to deploy, and flexible enough to work with the tools that employees already use.
Pexip President of Americas Karl Hantho said that in 2020, we all relied on video conferencing for more than just our meetings. Work and social lives were defined by video, and this lead to an increase in video fatigue. The exhaustion, according to Karl, came from things like meetings that were difficult to join, and sub-optimal home office setups.
Users experienced issues with internet bandwidth, and many had to invest more into strategies to improve their call quality. Poor video and audio quality were common issues, as were unclear connections and interruptions. Many modern companies are now looking for:
“AI-powered solutions that provide more engaging meetings with natural, enterprise-grade quality. Organisations are also acting quickly to enable remote work at scale, without bypassing end-user and security requirements along the way”
Bobby Beckmann of Lifesize said that once organisations surpassed the hurdle of trying to make remote work possible in 2020, the most significant challenge was recreating the natural human connections that people have in the office. Collaboration and creativity occur organically in in-person workplace settings.
“Video meetings alone rapidly began to lead to fatigue in users. These tools ceased to be enough to keep employees engaged and didn’t always drive much creativity.”
“This meant that forward-thinking companies started to complement video conferencing with collaboration apps and devices for things like digital whiteboarding. These tools will prove invaluable to keeping teams connected and productive after the partial return to the physical workplace”
Although the challenges of 2020 aren’t completely over yet, we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Many companies have begun to reconsider their workplace strategies, creating more space for concepts like remote and hybrid work, which were ignored in the past. Video has become one of the crucial components of running a successful business.
Many businesses now are looking ahead, trying to future-proof their companies in an environment where hybrid and remote work are likely to be the new norm, and customer expectations are quickly changing. Video is a critical part of this movement into the future, but organisations need to ensure that they’re applying this technology in the right way.
As we head further into 2021, we asked our VCaaS experts what kind of positive trends we can expect to see in the video landscape going forward. According to Will Moxley, telehealth was practically non-existent before the pandemic, but practitioner and patient attitudes to this technology have dramatically changed. The rise of telehealth is likely to be a significant trend in 2021.
“The benefits are manifest: improved patient access to care, improved satisfaction, cost effectiveness and flexibility for clinicians. Forward-thinking providers were able to use RingCentral’s single app solution to deliver a high level of care while working remotely and we expect this trend to continue”
Moxley also believes that another positive trend will be increased access to virtual learning, and the benefits it has to offer. Lectures will be different when people don’t have to rush the class. Some lectures could even be uploaded at any time, so students can learn at a time that suits them.
“This especially facilitates degree attainment for those who must work to pay for their university education, and for those who need flexible schedules, who may, for example be caring for children or an elderly parent. Distanced learning provides the flexibility these individuals need to continue on their education paths while still keeping up with responsibilities at home.”
Siobhan Lyons says that going forward, we’ll continue to see the rapid adoption of video conferencing, post-pandemic. The world’s needs for communications have fundamentally changed, and adoption of VCaaS with more advanced features will continue through 2021. Users will develop greater awareness of the solutions already available as they strive to create better collaborative experiences.
Siobhan also believes there will be an increased need for virtual breakout rooms, and capabilities for hosts to auto-schedule the commencement and conclusion of these sessions. 2021 will see the rise of improved video capabilities, and more choices for end users on how they want to consume their video solutions. More variety will be a must-have for video layouts in meetings.
“Providers with a focus on reliability, and on providing the best quality meeting experience in poor Wi-Fi or cellular scenarios will be key for buyers: now that it is clear that fully virtual or hybrid meetings will be part of everyday life beyond COVID, IT teams are placing higher emphasis on quality of the meeting experience, reduced latency, and high definition audio for example.”
Siobhan also said that we’re likely to see extreme mobility and agility grow, with sharp and snappy easy-to-use tools leading the way. What’s more, companies will need to ensure that every VC solution they use is equipped with the highest levels of security.
Pexip’s Karl Hantho told us that going forward, Pexip sees four crucial priorities shaping the digital workplace, and the communications of the future. For instance, Trust is going to be a critical concept for all companies, and companies will need to work on strategies that allow them to build this sense of trust with their audience.
For companies to thrive in the future business environment, they’ll need to continue accessing video, but in a way that’s compliant with the correct rules and regulations. “Whether companies are interacting with customers through video, or discussing issues with colleagues, every conferencing session needs to be fully secured, and data management should be a top consideration.”
As businesses continue to evolve, they’ll also need to think about how they can use video to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Video can be a great way to engage customers and leads, offering insights into products, and creating closer relationships with sales teams. Video will empower companies to offer better experiences to their customers, while improving user experience at the same time.
“Video will be one of the key tools in empowering the employees of a hybrid workplace. As people continue to work both remotely and from home, companies will need to ensure that video is accessible, easy to use, and designed to suit the needs of individual employees. Business leaders will be looking to update their technology for an uncertain future.”
Lifesize’s Bobby Beckmann, noted that as companies gradually make the return back to the office and in-person workplaces, and hybrid work becomes the more dominant model for 2021, they won’t want to get rid of the cloud and flexible solutions they’ve got now. We’ve grown to discover a new way of work in 2020 that’s more efficient and convenient than ever.
“To accommodate both those established preferences and the investments they’ve made (or will make) in devices to properly outfit meeting rooms, true interoperability will trend upward.”
Beckmann says that Lifesize Connect, for example, gives companies the opportunity to bring superior audio, video, and content sharing capabilities of 4K systems from Lifesize into any cloud meeting. There’s no additional technology to worry about or further fees.
“There are also many interop solutions available for Microsoft Teams and similar tools, such as the Cloud Video Interop (CVI) Gateway. The key takeaway is that businesses can (and should) expect to be able to have their cake and eat it too, capitalizing on both their hand-selected hardware investments and their cloud meeting platform of choice. It just comes down to UCC vendors being able to enable open interoperability and ease of use.”