Oru Mohiuddin (Research Manager, European Enterprise Communications and Collaboration)

Videoconferencing has been the default solution for collaboration during the pandemic. It has come the closest to replacing physical meetings and is bringing about transformative changes in that it is no longer seen as a stop-gap solution but something that is here to say.

Videoconferencing has been a very dynamic UC&C (Unified Communications and Collaboration) segment with numerous innovations within a short span of time, all designed to enhance the meeting experience. But one thing is missing — incorporating the concept of professional personas into the videoconferencing solutions.

Some Videoconferencing Features Can Conflict with Professional Personas

Recently a kitten video on a Zoom call went viral. It started when an attorney turned on the kitten filter by mistake as he was going into a virtual court room. When he realised what he’d done, he panicked and desperately tried to switch it off, but it was too late — the camera had already captured him as a kitten and the video spread like wildfire.

The image of a fluffy white kitten with confused and panicky eyes was funny and adorable, but as amusing as it was, no doubt it was an unpleasant experience for the attorney. No professional would want to be in his shoes.

Source: Telegraph, February 10, 2021

He isn’t alone, however. There are many videos of such meetings going wrong on YouTube, including one that shows a priest who turned on filters by mistake during a Zoom call. Each frame was overlaid with a funny filter while he carried on oblivious. This is not an enterprise example, but something similar could happen to a senior executive while giving an important presentation.

Source: Danuvilla, YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R8g3T7siCM)

Strong Growth Projections for Videoconferencing

It’s important that videoconferencing solutions are designed to suit the needs of enterprises as this will now be one of the most popular ways to collaborate with colleagues.

In the post-pandemic world, employees will have a hybrid work arrangement in which workdays are divided between office and non-office. What used to be known as “working from the office” or “working from home” is increasingly being referred to as “working from anywhere”. This means that at no point will all the workers be present in the same physical space and videoconferencing will be the default method to collaborate with colleagues.

In an IDC survey conducted last year, 30% of respondents said they will invest in videoconferencing in 2021 — the highest for all technology categories. IDC EMEA also forecasts that videoconferencing will grow at a 34.3% CAGR between 2020 and 2024, one of the highest in the overall UC&C category.

Growth Prospects Trigger Innovations in Videoconferencing

In line with growth projections and market prospects, vendors have introduced new features to make videoconferencing effective, efficient, collaborative and fun. A key aspect of this is to help prevent unconscious bias — a growing concern now that more people are working from home. While on a call, for example, the background could be messy or there may be a dog barking next door. Being able add an artificial background or blur the background completely and cancel external noise would help to overcome such challenges.

Helping to create an emotional bond or break the ice is also important when participants are in different locations. Emojis can help users to share their feelings, but the question is how else users can bond in virtual meetings. Do consumer-like features such as filters help to break down the barriers created by physical distance?

Videoconferencing Features Should be Conducive to Professional Image

While “funny” incidents can help to break the ice, they should not be allowed to lead to unconscious bias. Professional personas are critical for employees as they ensure they are taken seriously at work. Any videoconferencing features, such as filters, that risk undermining an employee’s professional image should be excluded from enterprise offerings.

Despite all the innovations in the videoconferencing space, we have not heard enough about what is being done to make videos more conducive to supporting employee professional personas. While employees are familiar with professional personas in the physical office space, the situation is less clear in the virtual space and a lack of understanding of how to operate video tools adds to the challenge. The opportunities are now there for videoconferencing vendors to create solutions that support employees’ professional image.

 

If you want to learn more about this topic or have any questions, please contact Oru Mohiuddin, or head over to https://uk.idc.com and drop your details in the form on the top right.

Sharing