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The future of video conferencing—3 trends breathing new life into a decades old industry

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For decades, video conferencing has been a nice-to-have feature for most businesses, but not a necessity. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software—as well as the growing demand for visual communications among millennials in the workforce—that’s all about to change.

Despite the decrease in bandwidth costs, both hardware and software continue to improve video quality while using better compression methods that eat up even less bandwidth. This has helped reduce the costs of video conferencing services and devices, which has led to a widespread adoption in the workplace. Today, virtual meetings can be held in large video conferencing rooms dedicated to cross-team collaboration, on mobile devices like tablets and cell phones or while simply sitting at a desk using VOIP or a conference phone.

As technology continues to improve, here are three trends to expect for the future of video conferencing:

A younger workforce will expect high-quality video conferencing services

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Cisco recently reported on a growing trend in video conferencing with younger employees stating the stark difference between today’s leaders and leaders of the future. Those in leadership today are very enthusiastic about technology and want to use it where possible, whereas leaders of the future will be dependent on technology and therefore will expect to utilize it throughout their daily lives.

A joint survey performed by Redshift Research and sponsored by Cisco provides context for this statement. According to the survey, 87 percent of young respondents would prefer to work for a more “video-enabled” organization over one that limits its investment in video conferencing. In addition, 84 percent of respondents believe that they would rely on virtual meetings with video for one out of every four interactions at a minimum.

In addition to expecting video as an almost default collaboration tool, 75 percent of young professionals surveyed say they will not settle for low quality. This expectation stems from growing up with technology that continues to improve at warp speed.

Video conferencing will be used for more than the traditional virtual meeting

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In a recent Q&A session, Lovina McMurchy, general manager of Skype Advertising, stated that Skype averages 8 billion hours of social video calls each year—this has been the case since 2011, when Microsoft acquired the company. The growing trend of video calls will continue to change how people interact with one another and combat some of the stigma associated with choosing video conferencing over face-to-face meetings.

In addition to the growing social use associated with video conferencing, it is now becoming more commonplace during the modern interview process. Global companies often seek global talent, but traveling out-of-state for a job interview isn’t always the best approach. Because of this, a recent study conducted by PGI suggests that 66 percent of job candidates prefer video interviews over traveling to meet a potential employer. This is even becoming more common with local candidates that might need to meet a large team whose schedules do not align.

Video conferencing has also become a popular feature of quality enterprise business solutions. By integrating video conferencing services with enterprise systems, employees are finding new and unique ways to run virtual meetings that go beyond traditional methods. In the same Redshift Research survey about video conferencing, respondents were asked about future features that would help them improve meetings with enterprise integration. Fifty-four percent of respondents showed interest in customizing the viewer’s experience with social media sharing tools. Twenty-one percent would prefer real-time language translation and pop-up bubbles that provide LinkedIn and Salesforce information on meeting participants.

Virtual reality will take video conferencing to the next level

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Video conferencing services let participants communicate on many levels beyond a traditional conference call. Through viewing facial expressions and body language, participants are able to experience different non-verbal cues, which often make up 93 percent of standard communication. Through virtual reality, participants can take virtual meetings even further.

By wearing a headset like the HoloLens, which combines both virtual and augmented reality into one experience, meeting participants can all sit in the same room together, no matter where they are physically located. This is accomplished via holograms that can be viewed through the headset.

With traditional video conferencing, participants only look into a camera and onto their screens to see one another. This often leads to missed eye contact and a continued feeling of separation. With technology like the HoloLens, participants can turn their head to the left to look at the hologram of the person sitting on their left. They can turn to their right to interact with the person on their right. In addition, they can share projects and manipulate them in real-time as a team. All of this can be done in a virtual environment set in the physical world.

These are just three trends of many set to change the way we interact with one another through video conferencing. As technology continues to evolve, virtual meetings will quickly become the norm and the board room conference phone will become nothing more than a retro paperweight.

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