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How Will We Think About Video for the Next 2 Years?
Sitting here today — in the same spare bedroom where I’ve been sitting every workday for the past five and a half months — it sure looks like video is taking over. This week’s Exhibit A was the crushing growth that Zoom reported, but that news just put the latest (amazing) numbers to the trend that we’ve already been experiencing: Video, whether via Zoom, Microsoft, Cisco, or another platform, is how knowledge work gets done in the pandemic era.
But what about in the post-pandemic era? If you’re an enterprise communications/collaboration decision-maker, is now the time to commit to a single platform, and to the broader idea that video will continue to be the new voice, even after offices open up?
I think there’s an argument for waiting to see how things shake out, six to 12 months after the full return to offices, before committing to a longer-term video strategy. Certainly while we’re in the transition period, with offices 25% to 50% full, the logical thing is to keep incrementally improving on the remote work systems and architectures that have tided the enterprise over during the lockdowns. Projects are likely to include bolstering security, improving management tools, and trying to leverage analytics to better understand how people are using communications and collaboration applications in this hybrid environment.
This interim will also be a time when enterprises will be re-evaluating their real estate footprints, and likely curtailing space to save costs. This process will take a while to shake out, so the emphasis for enterprises planning the video strategy should be on flexibility. For an example, read this No Jitter post from earlier this week about a firm that was in the middle of an A/V overhaul when the pandemic hit, and how this company is now thinking about meetings and spaces as it approaches its return to office.
The post’s author, Richard Brink of Ross & Baruzzini consulting firm, points out that the workers who return to the firm’s office will bring with them a different attitude toward video and other collaboration technologies than what they held pre-COVID. Over the course of the pandemic, he writes, “the comfort level of conducting these web sessions has increased in our organization and for our clients. We must modify our future design approach to include this apparent technology paradigm shift and the design of any conferencing and presentation systems.”
The last such paradigm shift for workplaces was in-office mobility, which became ubiquitous once Wi-Fi coverage and bandwidth reached acceptable levels to support the laptops and smartphones that employees had already embraced via BYOD.
In this next generation, video and web collaboration are the tools that end users will “bring” to the office — transplanting the habits gained from home-based work as well as from the video meetings they’ve used to sustain personal relationships over the course of this year. It’ll be the job of enterprise communications/IT teams to understand that usage and assess how best to support it. That should be the factor that drives longer-term video strategy.