The workplace is changing rapidly. No longer are workers measured based on the amount of time spent sitting at their desks or in their offices. The concept of a defined 9 AM to 5 PM workday also is becoming a relic of the past. Instead, workers are measured based on their performance, and whether their work contributes to bottom-line results.
Workplace and Workstyles Changing Rapidly
One factor is demographic changes in the workforce. Millennials comprise over half of the workforce, and more than one-quarter hold managerial roles. Much has been written about millennials and their desire to use technologies from the consumer world at work; they look for solutions that are easy to use and enable them and their colleagues to be more productive and to engage with customers in new and better ways.
To the above point, technology disruption is concurrently transforming workstyles and the workplace. And while millennials are embracing technology in higher numbers than other demographics, technology impacts every demographic group. Companies are rethinking their office spaces, creating collaborative, flexible environments without walls and fixed workspace. Small businesses are opting to forego office space altogether, embracing on-demand workspace and meeting rooms, including coworking space. Other businesses are creating hybrid office models that leverage a combination of permanent and on-demand workspace to accommodate worker lifestyles, telecommuting preferences, remote and gig workers, and other factors.
[subhed] From On-Premise to Cloud Video Conferencing
Cloud video conferencing is playing a critical role in facilitating these changes. Indeed, video is used in 45 percent of all conference meetings, and this number continues to increase. The fact that 54 percent of conferences involve remote participants is certainly a contributing factor (not to mention that 80 percent of meetings for those who collaborate most frequently involve remote participants). Indeed, video conferencing is now the most preferred business tool – over emails and voice calls.
In the past, on-premise video conferencing was not scalable for reasons that included:
- Too expensive. You needed expensive equipment in every meeting room.
- Poor connectivity. Internet bandwidth couldn’t support the requirements of video.
- Time-consuming management. Setup and ongoing management of equipment required specialized IT personnel. IT staff for midsize and large enterprises already have too much on their plates, whereas small businesses typically had not personnel to setup and manage the equipment.
- Little interoperability. There were few capabilities to move between different platforms, including mobile devices.
But subscription-based pay-as-you-go video conferencing solutions hosted in the cloud changes all of the above. They compress the entry point, enabling small businesses and solopreneurs to embrace the benefits of video conferencing. Take TIRO Communications as an example. Our team is spread out across the U.S., and we have customers in a number of states (including a U.S. territory). Cloud-based subscription video conferencing closes the distance and allows us to have face-to-face conversations in real time.
7 Things to Consider When Evaluating Cloud Video Conferencing
If you’re a business or solopreneur wanting to leverage the value of cloud video conferencing, what are some of the things that you should consider when evaluating your different options? The following are seven things that you need to make note of:
- Ease of use. User adoption is critical when rolling out a video conferencing solution. This means it must be easy to install and highly intuitive. A cumbersome user interface (UI) and “hidden” functionality will translate into poor user adoption and/or utilization of the solutions full set of capabilities.
- Collaboration capabilities. Determine what collaboration capabilities are needed by your team, partners, and customers (e.g., recording, audio-to-text transcription, embedded chat, etc.).
- Support for mobile workers and multiple devices. For most organizations, the changing workplace dictates that your video conferencing solution support any number of mobile devices – enabling video and instant messaging on any device from any location.
- Robust SLAs. Communications – whether internal or external – is business critical. Make sure your video conferencing solutions has robust service level agreements (SLAs) for reliability and availability built into your contract.
- Integrated security. Many of your meetings that involve video conferencing cover highly confidential topics (whether internal or external with partners or customers). Workers are so accustomed to using consumer-based products that security becomes an afterthought following convenience and ease of use. Don’t let this obfuscate the importance of security – login requirements, SSO integration, the ability to see and manage all participants, and other details.
- Conference room integration. For organizations with on-premises conference rooms, integration of the subscription-based video conferencing service is pivotal.
- Total cost of ownership (TCO). You need to be able to measure the cost of the solution versus the subscription costs (assuming you migrated from an on-premises solution) and any new benefits you gain.
5 Use Cases for Cloud Video Conferencing
Subscription-based video conferencing changes the dynamics of the workplace. Video conferencing often offers many of the benefits of face-to-face meetings, while reducing travel and costs. The following are some of the most prevalent use cases:
- Team collaboration. Many teams include remote members. Workers can perform their jobs from virtually anywhere in the world using any number of devices. Video conferencing removes the physical distance by allowing workers to meet and talk with other employees, vendors, partners, and customers without leaving their offices (or homes). These meetings can range from weekly staff meetings, to project kickoffs, to ongoing project status meetings, to one-off problem-resolution interactions.
- Customer meetings. Sales can get in front of customers much faster and easier using video conferencing. While face-to-face meetings are sometimes needed, meetings using video conferencing can replace many of these.
- Organizations need to schedule training with employees on a number of different topics such as benefits, payroll, sexual harassment prevention. Video conferencing makes this easy.
- Job interviews. Not every candidate is local and able to attend a job interview in person. And even if the candidate is local, being able to schedule the initial interview with the recruiter or hiring manager via video conference not only saves time but also is immensely more effective than a traditional phone call. Facial expressions and mannerisms tell a lot about a candidate, something that cannot be ascertained from a phone call.
- Webinars have proven to be one of the most effective demand-gen activities. But the online, subscription-based webinar platforms are expensive and moreover require training to manage (or more dollars to outsource to the webinar platform provider to manage). Cloud video conferencing services enable businesses to host and manage their own webinars.
Getting to Meaningful Conversations and Collaboration
We live and work in an ever-changing world where demographic, economic, and technology are constantly transforming our lifestyles and workstyles. Today’s workplace looks dramatically different than the one from 10 years ago. Cloud-based video conferencing services are one of the factors helping to drive this change, enabling meaningful conversations and collaboration between employees and with vendors, partners, and customers.