Unleashing the potential of video collaboration

In just a few short years, video collaboration has changed the way that employees connect and collaborate. In response to the need for increased flexibility, companies are tearing down the walls and re-designing their workplaces to deliver seamless mobility. Smaller, open office spaces with more collaboration and ‘huddle’ spaces are on the rise as businesses look to support the changing, increasingly mobile workforce. The latest video collaboration technologies are enabling remote working and mobility across all business units, helping to reduce travel costs and improving employee productivity.

According to recent reports, there are over 55 million meeting or conference rooms worldwide, of which 24 million, or 40%, are medium sized conference rooms. Companies across every industry are seeing the demand for ‘huddle’ rooms explode – smaller dedicated collaboration spaces where employees can meet and collaborate with local and remote team workers ‘on-the-fly.’ It’s these new types of meeting spaces which will be increasingly video-enabled. Video conferencing is no longer restricted to the boardroom with expensive, dedicated in-room systems. As Wainhouse Research notes in its latest blog post, video conferencing is increasingly becoming accessible to all knowledge workers with more manageable deployments and affordable, lower cost hardware, so that it can be deployed in large numbers economically. Video isn’t just for the sales and marketing teams either. Finance teams can also benefit and here we offer three tips that will ensure your team and the wider organisation reap the full benefits of video deployment:

  1. 1.Choose high quality, user-friendly video calling equipment
  2. 2.Empower employees to choose the software that best suits them
  3. 3.Consider the delivery stage

We are used to high-definition (HD) experiences in the living room and employees expect this quality in the workplace. User adoption of video is still a challenge so it’s important to give workers easy-to-use technology which feels intuitive and enjoyable. When video communication is used it can increase a firm’s efficiency by bringing together teams in distant locations so that they can innovate faster, reducing travel costs from otherwise face-to-face meetings, and positively impacting the bottom line.

Global firms are faced with managing complex service chains, a distributed workforce and responding rapidly to the needs of their customers. These operations rely on making the right decisions quickly, something that video can offer a huge ROI. Anecdotal evidence has found that by using video calls, decisions are made 30% to 40% more often than on a voice call as you feel more comfortable when you can see your colleagues and can reach consensus. As an example, this could help finance teams to work more closely with the procurement department, helping to reduce the time for procurement negotiations and freeing up staff for strategic projects.

A few years back, video conferencing was limited to closed, proprietary systems, locking in companies to one software application. Nowadays, there is a wide range of quality and cost-effective choice of software available, from Skype or Google Hangouts to subscription-based cloud solutions like Cisco Jabber and Lifesize. When looking to purchase products make sure that you choose a piece of hardware that is compatible with a range of software so that you can connect with employees and customers that aren’t using the same platform.

For many companies, the cost savings can be tremendous yet adoption can still be challenging. With a significant deployment of video conferencing equipment, it’s important to ensure training is in place so that you can achieve the ROI on the hardware purchase. A clear communication strategy should be in place so that users fully understand the benefits that their devices can bring to their work.

The changing demographics of the workforce will play an important part in this delivery stage. Millennials will form 50% of the workforce in just a couple of short years; while businesses today are distributed across multiple sites with remote workers forming part of the team, and 60% of meetings are now virtual.

Working in a video-enabled world

Enterprises want to have seamless communication experiences with their employees, customers, suppliers and partners. It’s not far off to think of a world where as a consumer, you will be able to connect with a business over an instant message, voice call, or… dare to dream, video. Barclays, for example has introduced video banking so that its premier customers can initiate a face-to-face video call from their smartphone or tablet.

The Wainhouse research paper on the collaborative enterprise confirms this, noting that: “The way users get their work done is undergoing a dramatic, historic change. This new work environment is embraced by work-life harmony-seeking millennials and driven by highly collaborative interaction. Technology has transcended the ability to simply enable virtual collaboration, making it effective and desirable – with few barriers, anyone and everyone can instantly become engaged and help with the task at hand.”