Before the COVID-19 pandemic, video was a solution looking for a problem. Now, it is a solution with an almost unlimited future, according to panelists in a recent Avaya virtual session on “The Role of Video in the Anywhere Workplace” from the United Kingdom.
“We have seen a tremendous innovation in video and that will continue,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst, ZK Research, in a conversation with Mike Kuch, senior director, Solutions Marketing, Avaya and host Rob Scott, publisher, UC Today.
With a huge adoption rate in the work-from-home (WFH) environment, video has become the “new voice,” said Kerravala. “Video is replacing a lot of traditional voice calls. It’s always been hard to set up multiparty conference calls with 10-digit pin codes. Now, with video you can just point and click. It’s a better experience for the user and doesn’t require IT to set everything up.”
Kuch added that video offers other advantages over voice in collaborative sessions. “So much of communication is visual,” he said. “Now you can tell if someone is engaged in the conversation or typing an email in the background. I think there will be less multitasking in the future.” Another benefit: video supports flexible work hours, making life easier for employees who may be caring for a child or an aging parent.
Referring to Avaya Cloud Office (ACO), Kuch said participants in an online session can start with a text or a voice call, share files and escalate to an immersive experience with video. Kerravala added, “No one likes multiple platforms, so bringing these channels together makes workflows better for the user and more efficient for the organization.”
Scott asked the panelists about the biggest challenges regarding the adoption of video. “Many employees have never worked from home before, so teaching them how to do things remotely is essential,” said Kerravala. “One example is training in setting up video backgrounds for business sessions.” Poor technology is also a big barrier to collaboration, including lack of bandwidth or suitable devices at home.
Managers also need to adjust their practices when dealing with a scattered workforce, Kerravala added. For instance, don’t set up collaborative office sessions early in the morning when parents are getting their kids ready for school, or at lunchtime when family members gather at the table.
But the biggest WFH challenge is keeping employees productive in the face of distractions, and giving them a sense of belonging in the organization, said the panelists. “Lack of engagement is the “silent killer of companies,” said Kerravala. Fortunately, video is an excellent medium for keeping employees involved when they’re not in physical proximity to each other, he added. “You should also talk with heavy users of video in your organization. You can learn a lot about best practices from them.”
Kuch said the “virtual water cooler” experience can be just as important for engagement as a team meeting where everyone gives a status report, said Kuch. “Virtual happy hours or video meetings designed for fun can build camaraderie from those positive interactions.”
One of the ways COVID-19 has changed the technology landscape is the sudden growth in telehealth services “With video, a sick person doesn’t have to drive across town to see a doctor,” Kerravala said. “Telehealth sessions are a powerful new use case for video, and there will be more in the future.”
Next on the horizon are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, along with new tools and analytics to make collaboration even more enriching, said the panelists. For instance, data could be superimposed over the video, and real-time translation features could be included for collaboration in different languages.
“I’m excited about the future of video,” said Kerravala. “The work from anywhere world is here for the foreseeable future.”