Where to next? - Series of White Papers 

30.09.21 10:39 AM By Colin Rhodes

The missing link in Conference Collaboration

We have become accustomed to using the multiplicity of AV conferencing tools available for today’s online meetings. We have worked out how to record meetings, share links and even documents. The scale of adoption of these tools has escalated exponentially but this has exposed weaknesses when you are trying to use them in earnest or bend them to your specific requirements. 

•Perhaps you need to be selective when sharing?
•Do you need to enable scheduling and booking?
•Does recording and distribution need to following an approvals process?
•Does your storage and retrieval comply with internal security protocols? 
•Can you embed your conferencing into your other business applications?
•Do you have an audit trail?

What is missing to transform these tools into true business applications? Incorporating workflow management effectively converts these AV conferencing tools into solutions. 

The AV conferencing sector is crowded and competitive with obvious leaders such as Zoom, Teams and PexIP to name just a few.  To differentiate and innovate they need to demonstrate how to add workflows and automation to make them “Vertical Ready”. A new change of clothes is required, or a workflow-wrapper which enables these raw products to become true solutions fit for vertical purpose. 

As would be expected research is galloping to catch up after the pandemic to understand the proliferation and use of video conferencing. In a bid to find out what features are needed next. 

The raised hand is the most human of features as invariably one person talks and others listen, unlike natural conversations where there is casual overlapping and interaction. However, video conferencing only amplifies one speaker’s voice at a time and online-interrupting is a “no-no”. 

Improving interaction (especially with larger groups), requires excellent interpersonal skills. The organiser needs to include less confident or quieter members of the team and create an environment that allows chatter. But it is hard to tell when someone is truly engaged.  They may give overt signs like leaning-in, nodding and smiling. And so, emotion-detecting AI is on its way to help assess these subtle bodily clues. But is this workplace surveillance?

Another way the technology can help is by suppressing background noise. We have all suffered the embarrassment of the dog barking or the kids choosing the wrong time to whinge

The trend on LinkedIn for some rather dubious connection requests was to invite targets for a “virtual cup of coffee meeting”. This sets off alarm bells for me as it implies a level of informal friendship that I am not entirely comfortable with for new professional interactions.

However, working teams have missed the opportunities for a cup of coffee. An innovation is the videogame like interface for employees to “hang-out” for impromptu interactions and to gather for a social chat. 

Again, I am a little sceptical as I am not sure I am ready to be an avatar? 

Practically, what is new in the market are vertical solutions that embed video conferencing and wrap it up in a blanket of integrated functionality required for that sector. One such example is where the NHS and similar healthcare institutions need a booking system, document management and the ability to run remote patient consultations. This helps clinicians and healthcare practitioners deliver remote care more efficiently, managing bookings, sharing documents and medical images securely. Care providers can schedule and host secure video-based consultations, providing remote triage and managing each stage of the patient workflow in one simple, online environment. 

This is a significant innovation in patient care. 

Emotion-detecting and avatar gaming may be the future but adding a workflow automation engine to video conferencing is new, it is exciting, and it is very much available, now.