Conference Phone Trends 2019
Statistics, technology and vendors
According to Research and Markets, the tabletop audio conferencing endpoint space grew by 7.8% in 2017. Though software seems to be the ultimate talking point in the communication industry today, there’s still a place for hardware. Specifically, trends like huddle room use and the rise of the millennial population have driven demand for clever endpoints. Today’s conference phones are earning attention for their intuition, video features, and enhanced capabilities.
Conference phones aren’t just an afterthought in the office design process anymore. For today’s companies to thrive, they need to build their meeting rooms around the technology that employees prefer to use. Here, we’ll look at some of the trends that may impact the conference phone market in the years ahead.
1. New Android Enabled Phones Emerge
These days, employees don’t want to be connected by just voice alone. A great conference experience needs to connect to the rest of the UC experience, with access to collaborative tools, file sharing, and even screen sharing solutions. Android-enabled conference phones with access to the latest API and SDK solutions mean that today’s companies can enhance their conversations in a multitude of new ways.
For instance, Microsoft recently opened up their Teams API so that end-users could access a native MS Teams experience across a variety of different vendor solutions. The Yealink CP960 offers Microsoft Teams interactions combined with a 360-degree voice pickup range for instance. The Polycom Trio 8500 offers a state-of-the-art conferencing experience that works seamlessly with Skype for Business. Even the upcoming Crestron Flex UC-M100-T will feature Microsoft Teams integration.
2. Embracing the Digital Assistant
In recent years, we’ve discovered just how much artificial intelligence can help us to accomplish in the business world. Chatbots can deliver more satisfied customers, while AI systems can automatically collect useful data and translate it into crucial insights. Now, we’re seeing the rise of digital assistants in the meeting room too. Forming off the back of smart speaker systems like Alexa and Google Home, these assistants will respond to natural voice requests, making it much easier for a user to request that they take notes in a meeting with automatic transcription, or set up a new call.
The digital assistant may also be able to provide information on how conference phones are used when combined with cameras featuring facial recognition technology. Users can “check in” to a meeting, just as iPhone X customers use their faces to unlock their phone.
AI assistants even have the power to improve the experience in the conference room. For instance, they could change the level of noise suppression on your conference phone depending on how busy the space is and improve the focus on human voices. They may also be able to listen out for nuances in natural language that determine the sentiment of the people in a conference.
3. Conference Room Tech Gets More Creative
“Experience” is a big factor for all endpoint vendors of late. This trend is likely to continue in the years ahead, leading to the rise of new meeting room concepts. Many modern conference phones now come with tablet-style interfaces, like the Polycom Trio 8800. However, what if your phone also came with headsets that allowed you to view and interact with your coworkers in another dimension?
The augmented workplace has been an exciting talking point for some time now, though we’re yet to see it fully in action. AR systems that combine special glasses with your conference phone experience, as well as immersive surround sound could place you into a different room or country at the touch of a button.
Though we’re yet to see AR in the meeting room, it seems likely that we’re heading in that direction. Many conference room solutions, like the Avaya IX Collaboration unit, are already designed to deliver HD video. Could it be that AR is the next logical step?
4. A Focus on Flexibility
Finally, to make meeting room experiences feel more fluid and agile, many conference phone vendors are likely to focus more on the benefits of mobility and flexibility. You can expect your conference phones to be easier to set-up than ever, with one-touch joining options that throw you straight into the action. This is part of an overwhelming movement in the business world to make office experiences feel more natural and inspirational.
For instance, the Jabra Speak 410 conference phone is a simple, compact system that connects immediately to your UC system through a USB cable. Simple solutions like this will ensure that any spare room or office can quickly be transformed into a huddle room at a moment’s notice. Now that there are around 32.4 million huddle rooms worldwide, it may be that we begin to see a reduction in the traditional “structured” meeting space. Wired conference phones will be replaced with mobile devices. Complexity will give way to simplicity and speed.
Conference Phone Vendors to Watch
Throughout the industry, countless conference phone vendors are already exploring the opportunities that have arisen in new technology. We’re seeing companies like Yealink, Cisco, and Grandstream experimenting with AI, and mobility. Each business continues to focus on delivering quality in audio and video experiences too.
On top of that, increasing consolidation in the marketplace is bringing industry leaders together too. Plantronics completed their acquisition of Polycom in 2018. The link between these two industry leaders is sure to lead to some exciting things in the voice and video space. In 2017, Vtech acquired Snom, and we’ve already seen new technology from the Snom brand since, including the development of a DECT USB stick.
For a full list of Conference phone vendors to watch for 2019 and beyond click the link.