Communication today is a world apart from what it used to be. It used to be that any business talking about communication stack would be referring to phone calls, voicemail, and fax machines. Now we have a digitally-enhanced environment where we can chat, message, text, and video call.
While newer communication options like video aren’t entirely new, they are more essential today than they’ve ever been. We’re living in an era where people need to find new ways of feeling connected in an age where physical interaction isn’t possible. In this landscape, video brings an extra level of humanity, context, and intimacy into our conversations.
The PBX, of course, was never designed with video in mind. The hardware and architecture of the traditional communication system is married to voice. Traditional tools just aren’t able to meet the demands of a new video-first environment. To evolve in the new landscape, companies need to make a switch to cloud-based unified communications (UCaaS), and increasingly popular team applications like Microsoft Teams.
Bringing Video into the Communication Stack
Businesses everywhere agree that video is a must-have part of the communication architecture. However, video needs to be a connected component of a wider experience – not a standalone solution. Cloud meeting platforms exist, but without the inclusion of phone system functionality and PBX technology, they fail to complete the picture. A standalone video experience further segments the communication landscapes, leading to more app overwhelm, and reduced productivity.
To create the true all-in-one environment promised by the concept of “Unified Communications”, leading companies like Zoom invest in their own phone system platform to bridge the gap. Similarly, Google has Google Voice, and Cisco acquired BroadSoft to complete the cloud calling package on Webex. Many other organisations have since followed suit.
As the workplace and business environment continues to evolve, cloud communications service providers are buying into video on a massive scale. However, the transition may be a little late. Many providers looked at cloud communications as a voice PBX replacement opportunity, rather than a full-featured UCaaS solution. Many Service Providers have been left scrambling to bolt video functionality onto their offerings to prevent the competition from acquiring their customers.
The Future of Communication is More than Voice
In this new age of communication, the traditional desktop phone is losing its relevance to a certain extent. Basic plastic phones capable of nothing but call control are a thing of the past. We’re replacing these endpoints with more diverse multifunctional solutions. Companies are investing in web cameras, collaboration bars and video endpoints.
We can see a great example of this shift in Plantronics’ acquisition of Polycom. The two companies created a market-leading solution when they formed Poly. They were some of the first brands to realise that audio without video doesn’t complete the communications picture anymore. Companies need their conversations to look as good as they sound.
It’s an unusual evolution into this new environment for many teams. For a long time, video conferencing equipment in the meeting room was only accessible for the largest environments. Only the biggest companies with the most significant budgets could justify the expense of video conversations. That’s not the case anymore. The arrival of lower price points and vast vendor options means the market is changing for the better. Video is becoming a more accessible extension of the PBX platform, and the result is a steep learning curve for many legacy voice-only providers.
If your company previously left video to the AV guys, you’re probably feeling the pinch right now.
It’s Time to Invest in Video More than Ever
Video has a part to play in the contact centre too. CCaaS is leading the way in this landscape, and that’s the only place where video can work. If you’re not in the cloud, then you can’t access video in the contact centre without excessive expense and complexity.
Once again, as companies turn to video contact centre solutions to delight customers, video drives the decision of which vendor to use.
Everywhere you look, communication is evolving, and video is quickly becoming a crucial component at the centre of all investment decisions for 2021. I believe that going forward, more vendors will develop and acquire video for their propositions. Expect to see more vendors from UC, CX, and collaboration venturing into video hardware and software. We’re also likely to see companies merging new tech like VR and AR into the mix.
For end-customers, video may present the largest opportunity for 2021 in my view. However, it’s not necessarily going to be limited to a 2D world. Once video is fully in place, 3D collaboration will be the next big thing.
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