The next big idea to hit the IT world is likely to be personal video at work. It’s a natural step forward from using Facetime and Skype for personal calls to using video calls at work, where the ability to talk to someone with video, wherever they may be, offers fantastic productivity bonuses.
New video products on the market this summer could bring changes to the way we work that are potentially just as profound and far reaching as BYOD and the Cloud, transforming video conferencing from the old-style formal “Big Screen Video” set-up to an easy facility that works over all IP networks and wireless networks, and which is just as simple as sending an email or making a normal voice call.
The latest products are suitable for everyone to use – they are not just for the Chief Executive to use with a team from IT support on hand to set up the calls. To give an example, Avaya’s recent purchase of Radvision brings a raft of “Unified Visual Communications” tools for business and the enterprise – effectively a click-to-call video facility for every desktop, within a proper corporate network management structure.
Costs have reduced too, and I believe that the time is right for all businesses to look at the productivity gains and the savings in energy and resources that these new collaboration tools can bring.
The technology is both cost-effective and high quality (it uses High Definition video), and comes with enterprise grade security built in. The products are designed for proper integration with a Unified Communications system, and they bring video calling directly to the individual person, through the individual device.
It’s possible to work with any number of personal devices – including all of the relatively inexpensive ones such as the iPad, Android and smartphones that are finding their way into the workplace today.
All this will enable businesses to collaborate more efficiently, using multi-dimensional interactions with remotely located colleagues. Adding high quality video to a call means that people can share pictures and graphics on the desktop, which is great for businesses that work with designs, and for anyone who wants to see their colleagues’ faces and reactions to their presentations.
It is good for selling and consultation, and brilliant for any profession that works with visual images – such as Advertising, all kinds of Design, Fashion and Transport and Planning.
Personal video offers the potential to shrink distances and bring teams together irrespective of locations, people can just click on the desktop to set up a call and communicate, or work through any number of apps they have chosen to use. With remote communication so easy, who will still want to fly abroad on business? Taking the Red-Eye flight out of the USA East Coast, into the UK and back, could soon lose its appeal.
The cultural benefits are harder to quantify but they centre around a more productive and collaborative work force, and achieving more effective personal communications by viewing faces and facial expressions without travelling. The fear factor associated with traditional video conferencing has largely disappeared, because we are so accustomed to using Skype and Facetime.
Small and medium businesses, who would not have wanted to invest in video in the past, will see the cost of the products reducing dramatically, coinciding with the arrival of superfast broadband, 4G networks and Fibre to the Home.
However, less than half of corporate networks are ready for corporate video conferencing, and most businesses will have some work to do at the network level before they can offer personal video as a service on their network. The culture within the business may need to change too. We advise companies to have a detail-oriented plan to get video working.
The implementation and orientation should be planned with precision, with adequate time allocated for preparation and training. Track progress carefully and collect feedback. I recommend appointing key people as video champions within the organisation. And because apps are so simple to use, I recommend that no training course should last longer than half an hour.