2020 has brought video conferencing to the forefront of business communications. Video conferencing has become the main – and for many the only – tool for external and internal communications for companies of all sizes, from individual entrepreneurs to global giants.
The pandemic has helped the industry to significantly expand its share of the communications market and increase its popularity among users by an order of magnitude. It is important to note that 2020 managed to change the opinion of users about videoconferencing as a technology that requires a lot of resources, complex devices and long training.
In 2021, the pandemic footprint will continue to have a big impact on:
-developing new equipment for videoconferencing at all levels (from home to professional devices);
– changing the concept of content for digital signage;
– creating new visualisation tools for virtual events.
Demand for video conferencing solutions will remain high, forcing manufacturers to quickly develop and bring to market more products that take into account the different needs of users.
Here are the main trends in this area:
1. Data protection
With the unprecedented load on the Internet, as well as the widespread use of video conferencing in industries that require a special approach to privacy (healthcare or law), the degree of data protection during transmission should also grow. Vendors will pay more and more attention to analytical functions, development of multilayer encryption systems, multi-factor authentication, vulnerability scanning and intrusion detection tools.
Partnerships between hardware and software vendors will grow and deepen as business owners choose to implement workflow in a single interface rather than switching between systems.
This trend is interesting even for manufacturers of traditional VoIP solutions who are trying to include video conferencing in the standard set of functions or continue to develop their own web meeting services.
2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are capable of efficiently detecting and filtering background noise. Thus, software solutions can minimize any interference, enabling more productive communication.
Through the development of features such as object detection and face recognition, artificial intelligence can improve the quality of video conferencing, for example, by correcting the participants’ illumination. Intelligent camera control and auto-framing make each speaker’s presentation available to the rest of the participants, regardless of their number and location.
Significant advances in data mining allow even the mood of participants to be monitored and feedback can be sent to the organiser, which, if used correctly, can significantly increase employee engagement.
3. Increasing requirements for the capabilities of user devices
Custom-grade PCs, laptops, headsets, and cameras are generally not designed to be the primary means of communication, especially when an employee has to share a workspace with other family members. The technical requirements for terminal devices will increase significantly in 2021, bringing home devices closer to the professional level.
In addition, the advent of powerful, affordable and reliable smartphones has drawn global attention to the increased use of mobile devices in the business environment. According to some video conferencing service providers, users of mobile conferencing applications make up 60% of their customer base, which makes the further development of smart devices a powerful driver for the industry’s growth.
4. Simplification of the interface and user experience
Video Conferencing vendors are experiencing strong pressure from the developers of various video chats, which in 2020 have become very popular even in the business environment (for example, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and others). This is largely due to the ease of use of such services, which allow you to connect to a good quality video conferencing session at the touch of a button. The focus on user experience is becoming significant for the professional segment as well.
This also applies to that part of the videoconferencing systems interface that is used to deploy the workplace. Users want to spend as little time as possible setting up and solving technical issues, given the fact that in a remote environment, contacting technicians can be associated with certain restrictions. Video conferencing tools should be simple and understandable even for inexperienced users.
Thus, the very model of consumption of communication services is changing: now the consumer takes a full-fledged prosumer position, forcing manufacturers to take into account his individual preferences regarding functionality and convenience of solutions.
5. Personalization and Mobility
One of the trends that can be considered secondary, but no less important, is the possibility of customising jobs. Now video conference participants want and can not only design the appearance of the workplace (for example, change the video background) but also adapt the display of information about themselves to various scenarios.
This allows you to realise the creative nature of a person, which is especially important in conditions of isolation. In addition to the virtual backgrounds that gained popularity in 2020, custom information (such as name and title), company logo and other graphics can now be added to the video stream. During a meeting, employees can even switch between completely different layouts.
Typically, this now requires third-party plugins, but as part of this trend, videoconferencing companies will add these features to their core offering.
In 2021st employees need tools to work from different locations, which often differ greatly in their technical characteristics (for example, in terms of data transfer rates). At the same time, the ability to stay connected should be maintained even when moving from one point to another. The use of cloud and hybrid solutions with a high degree of fault tolerance and data loss protection helps to solve this problem, which allows not only videoconferencing solutions providers but also hosting companies to develop.
The pandemic has forced businesses to develop a new mindset. Now work is not an office building, but a matter of access to the right work tools. Obviously, in the long run, the winners are those companies that can quickly adapt to future challenges while continuing to operate from any location. Therefore, in 2021, the business expects from the videoconferencing industry the emergence of universal and even more user-friendly tools.