Top Video & A/V Trends to Watch for at EC18

We're in the midst of a major A/V refresh – the biggest in 25 years, as Ira Weinstein, industry analyst and chair of the Video Collaboration and A/V track at Enterprise Connect, told me.

Enterprises across the globe are tossing out their clunky, complex gear and redoing their meeting room A/V and video in favor of new technology that's simpler, easier, and quicker, Weinstein explained. And they're not doing so because they need better quality video, but rather for ease of use and consistency, he added.

In fact, consistency is one of the most significant video collaboration challenges enterprises face today, Weinstein said. That's because every meeting room looks and feels different, so people don't know how to do their business in the one they've just walked into, he added.

"Simple to use, easy to manage -- that's the trend," Weinstein said. "And for an industry that has lived and breathed complexity, it's a brave new world -- an end user-centric world, not technology-centric."

Tackling Scale: Rise of the Huddle Room

As companies work to make the room experience more consistent, they're also making video-enabled meeting spaces less scarce.

"Today, we need to empower our users, and organizations are waking up to this need to add in hundreds of additional meeting rooms," he said. "And users want to do more than just sit there and chat. Users expect to walk into these rooms and share content, present content, have video calls or audio calls."

User demand has contributed to the growing popularity of huddle rooms, with many organizations today turning small office spaces into casual meeting rooms and empowering teams with collaborative workplaces. The exact number of huddle rooms is hard to pinpoint, given that many have been carved out of leftover spaces, but Weinstein estimates the number is at 40 million or so. Many of these rooms, however, haven't yet been outfitted with video capabilities -- and this has vendors and channel partners scrambling to provide cost-effective solutions, Weinstein said. "This is a healthy market evolution."


Top Video Collaboration & A/V Trends for 2018

Dive deeper into the top video collaboration and A/V trends in this upcoming webinar with Ira Weinstein and Logitech's Simon Dudley, director of product strategy. You'll learn:

  • What huddle rooms are and why this segment is growing so fast
  • How meeting room experiences change when they're powered by software-based videoconferencing
  • What trends are driving the meeting room of the future

Register now!

Targeting Simplicity: Start with Your Users

Simplicity, whether for a huddle room or larger meeting space, is key, Weinstein explained. We're now seeing simpler solutions with fewer configuration options, requiring fewer devices, and offered at a lower cost to address smaller enterprise budgets, he added.

And solution simplicity applies first and foremost to the end users, he said. "The best UI is no UI." If the solution is easy to use, an enterprise will have less worries around adoption and return on investment, Weinstein added.

"Please, please, please start with your users," Weinstein pleads of organizations planning to update their video collaboration infrastructures. This is a necessary first step, but one that enterprises often forget to do. "And don't have your technical people talk to users," he added. "Have your help desk talk to them and find out what's working and how you can make it easier."

Second, enterprises should take a look at what they've deployed to determine if they really do have a problem. "Your tech may be great; don't just toss it out," Weinstein said.

Third, enterprises should evaluate where users want to meet and determine whether they need more huddle rooms. And, fourth, enterprise IT should go through the workflows and use the collaboration tools to see how hard processes are and make sure the tools do what the organization needs them to do, he said. Finally, before taking action, do a gap analysis, he said. "Figure out where you are today and where you need to be when you're done updating your video and A/V infrastructure."

"Eighty percent of this is putting yourself in a user's shoes," Weinstein said. Too often, enterprise IT will gravitate toward technology and try to fix issues by buying new technology -- "but it's not about that. It's about the users and what they need to collaborate to get things done."

Our Video & A/V Future

Looking out toward 2021 and beyond, Weinstein said he expects video collaboration to become more consistently simple to use. And automation and artificial intelligence are going to play big roles in the future for the very reason that these technologies will simplify meeting tasks and the overall experience.

"And no discussion of our video and A/V futures would be reasonable without talking about voice and voice commands," Weinstein said. Voice-enabled digital assistants are going to come to video collaboration and A/V, he said, but because we have to do things carefully in the enterprise, this will happen in a controlled, secure, authentication-based way.

Also expect to see deployment trend more toward cloud and hybrid implementations, Weinstein said, with enterprise use of managed services on the rise as well. And augmented reality(AR)/virtual reality (VR)? Well, that will have its place in the future as well, with AR being used to surface relevant information during video meetings and VR used more for niche purposes like engineering design.

With Enterprise Connect little over a week away, Weinstein has a few things on his watchlist. "What I'll really be looking for is integrations. ... Integration is where you add value. I'm not dissing business partnerships, but what I'm asking for is next level to that: 1 + 1 = 3."

Learn more about Video Collaboration & A/V at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Regular Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.

Ira M. Weinstein is an industry analyst and researcher with more than 25 years of experience in the video conferencing, audio visual, and UC marketplace. From 2003 to 2017, Ira was a senior analyst and partner, and the head of the end-user advisory team at Wainhouse Research. In early 2018, Ira founded Recon Research (www.reconres.com) -- a next-gen research and advisory firm focused on the enterprise communications space. Ira is the chair of the Video Collaboration and A/V track at Enterprise Connect, and can be reached at [email protected].

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