Video communication was often seen as a nice optional extra. Conference calls took place using audio only with participants seemingly reluctant to engage in a visual exchange, even if they had the option. In recent months video seems to have come into its own as the default communication method. ‘Video first’ is now a phrase that has garnered true relevance.
The COVID-19 global crisis has pushed video communication to the top of our news agendas. In Cavell Group’s ‘COVID-19 Impact Study’ 73% of service providers reported an increase of over 50% in the use of video conferencing services, with 26% reporting over 100% increase in usage. So, video enablement firms have seen huge surges in uptake, but did it really take a pandemic to allow video to sit atop the communication method pyramid?
There were various factors at play long before the virus took its toll on global workplaces. Although video conferencing technology has been around for decades, it was traditionally confined – within business environments – to large enterprises who could afford high end video enabled meeting and conference spaces. Within the last decade the dramatic reduction in video endpoint pricing has seen video technology become widely available to the masses.
Although the COVID crisis caused mass migration to work from home scenarios this trend was already accelerating in businesses prior to this. Cavell Group’s Enterprise Insight Report 2019 showed that the vast majority of businesses were already offering remote working as an option to their employees. This trend was merely accelerated by COVID, and even when the crisis subsides it appears the tide has already turned, and many will never return to the office for the standard 9 to 5.
So why have these changes in working habits helped to make video so popular? The answer seems simple enough. If you aren’t seeing your colleagues in the office then you need to see them virtually. Video communication offers a range of benefits that audio only communication methods cannot match. Non-verbal cues, such as body language, have been key indicators throughout human development. Recognising emotional responses and engagement levels are critical to the success of collaborative undertakings.
It’s not only increasingly levels of remote working that underpin the rise of video. Workforce generational changes are also impacting its popularity in the enterprise workforce. Younger generations, who are digitally native, are much more inclined to utilise video communication technologies. Research and data show that by 2025 Generation Z will comprise 36% of the workforce, further driving demand for video communication. The levels of older generations within the workforce who are, both anecdotally and in practicality, less likely to engage with newer technologies like video are falling. These changes have forced the enterprise to incorporate technologies that match the requirements of their increasingly younger workforces, with video being a key constituent.
Finally, we have to look at our consumer technology habits. Consumer trends inevitably enter the workplace and communication is arguably the most viable area for that perforation. People want to communicate in work in a similar fashion to how they communicate in their private lives. The rising popularity of face to face calls in consumer settings has further forced the hand of businesses to ensure employees don’t default to consumer apps, adding to the problem of shadow IT. Enterprises now need to provide the means for employees to connect visually with colleagues and third parties to effectively communicate and collaborate.
If video does, or already has, become the default communication method, what does this mean for the communications industry? Service providers may not have fully considered their strategic usage of video communication and collaboration platforms. There are multiple options available to them – build, buy, wholesale – each with their own pros and cons. One thing is for sure though. The modern enterprise, and the modern customer, will be keenly interested in provision of video services. Ensuring the appropriate options are available will be vital for the next decade’s most successful service providers.
For more information on video communication and its relevance for service providers why not sign up for the latest Cavell Group webinar? Taking place on Thursday 25th of June “Video: The Next Frontier for Service Providers” is being hosted in conjunction with Enghouse Networks and will cover all the key considerations for video platform adoption.