How Will It Sound in the Cloud?
Cloud computing was a subject that hovered over the discussions on the floor of this year's UCExpo. While several panellists argued whether the future of video conferencing hardware hangs in the balance, it is interesting to think of this subject as it directly relates to AV conferencing sound.
The future of the workplace is definitely heading down a wide open path. A seminar by Vishy Gopalakrishnan of AT&T's Voice & Collaboration department revealed that millennials want to work for organisations that are helping to make the world a better place. Whether you are a Gen Yer or a Baby Boomer, it is apparent that the future of work will definitely involve making a smaller carbon footprint by cutting down on travel, which means more meetings will be held via audio or video conference to keep colleagues and clients in close touch while working from opposite ends of the globe. With this demand comes the need for more adaptive and flexible equipment.
Millennials have also cut their teeth on smart phones, tablets and social media platforms. WhatsApp and Facebook video, Facetime and other videotelephony platforms introduce even more ways for colleagues to share information and collaborate. These trends should encourage employers to keep up to date with state-of-the-art AV conferencing equipment that is interoperable with new technology platforms in order to create a familiar and collaborative environment where communication is not inhibited by technology.
Open Your Mind, and Your Office Door
Vishy also revealed that AT&T is working towards Workspace 2020, which will require all employees, executives included, to move out from behind their desks and onto the office floor. Despite the fact that Lindsey Kaufman's hilarious Washington Post article insists that 'Google Got it Wrong' and open offices are remarkably oppressive, the trend of future work spaces is definitely heading towards more open spaces, hot desking and shared working environments.
Dave Mailer of 4C Strategies revealed the surprising statistic that 62% of people have successfully integrated video communications into their personal lives vs 46% use at work, citing over complicated workplace AV conferencing equipment as the main barrier to further workplace integration. It seems that no one wants to be the person holding the remote in the meeting for fear of looking foolish in front of colleagues when they cannot get the equipment to work.
These points further highlight the need for intuitive AV conferencing equipment that, quite frankly, just works when it's turned on. Valuable time and money is wasted at the beginning of a video conference when the AV equipment is not working properly. This is a major concern for companies losing billable client hours because the person at the other end of the call cannot hear them properly.
A bigger questions is where does audio sit in this new floating work space? The key outcome is the need to be flexible and keep the conversation alive. It is no secret that audio is seen as the misunderstood teenager in the AV world, but perhaps an increased awareness of how networkable audio systems can benefit meeting room sound by capturing good quality audio will bridge the large gap between the A and the V and the AV and IT. Even if your clients are dialling into your Blue Jeans call with a mobile phone, what better way to make a good impression then by dazzling them with clear audio that enhances the sound of your voice as it is delivered to their boardroom, laptop or mobile phone.
While we convince the IT departments that our nodes will connect safely with their network, there is a definite need to make Gen Y, Baby Boomers and everyone in between aware of positive impact and true benefits of good sound in the workplace.