It’s no secret that 2020 was the year video conferencing went Zoom! I mean boom!!

In the first 3 months of 2020, Zoom grew from 10 million daily users to 300 million. Incredibly the platform coped with the rapid growth without so much as a scalability hiccup. Zoom wasn’t the only platform to boom. Microsoft Teams saw usage double, Google Meet reached 100 million daily users, whilst Cisco Webex reached 300 million attendees for the month of March 2020.

Video conferencing meant working from home didn’t have to mean working alone.

With lockdowns enforced regionally across the world, 2020 also became the year where offices were forced to change, adding spacing, sanitisation and connective technology. In video conferencing, the new tech focussed on usability, higher resolutions and optimised audio, with integrated software and display systems becoming increasingly popular in meeting and breakout spaces.

What video conferencing technology can we expect in 2021?

Well you can expect to see further developments in the dedicated video conferencing device world. Lenovo recently released their Series One Room Kits for Google Meet, which competes well against the latest Zoom Room and Microsoft Team Room technology, with packages available for small, medium and large rooms. The kit includes the latest release in Huddly’s long standing partnership with Google Cloud, with two new smart cameras; the Series One Smart Camera XL for large rooms and the Series One Smart Camera for small and medium rooms. The release looks set to increase the prevalence of high quality, wide-angle cameras, noise cancelling microphones and intelligent audio projections in offices and meeting spaces worldwide, with companies looking to benefit from more immersive meeting experiences.

Breakout software technology from 2020 is likely to be increasingly available in 2021. This will include; AI meeting transcription, live meeting translation, meeting and participant reporting and more in-meeting collaborative tools. This will see the main platforms move beyond competing on limits on the number of participants, video background effects and video call security, all of which will become the minimum expected functionality. Enterprise customers can expect to be able to integrate their video conferencing with their own technical infrastructure with developer and partner tools more readily available.

Virtual space technology is an interesting niche gaining traction within the sector. This will likely continue in 2021 as there are over 50 startups within the niche developing meeting technology for virtual rooms, virtual offices and even virtual reality. Last year, two of the biggest players in technology made virtual space technology acquisitions, with Apple purchasing VR startup Spaces, and Twitter acquiring screen sharing chat app Squad. It is certainly an area to keep an eye on for the next 12-24 months as businesses look to optimise online communication in the workplace and the marketplace.

Finally, what’s the outlook for the sector in 2021 and beyond?

The video conferencing arena is certainly one of the hottest spaces in global technology as we start 2021. Here’s our top five predictions on what we think you should look out for in the video conferencing sector over the next year or two.

1. Investment in making offices safe and welcoming

With vaccinations being rolled out across the world, businesses will look to make offices safe and welcoming for their team to return. This will involve planning and reworking their space. 

For now, more square footage per person, with social distancing and staff wellbeing a concern. In future, most likely less square footage per person, with flexible working arrangements and employees spending more time working from home. This could lead to offices being turned into hubs for collaboration and meetings, converting traditional workstations into social settings, with breakout areas fitted with the latest meeting technology.

Condeco, a leader in this espace, provides a global solution to get employees back in the workplace safely and effectively, while providing a workspace management platform that is the basis of the future for new ways of working and collaboration.

2. Investment in connecting offices to homes

With more people working from home, many offices will need to increase their investment in communication technology. High quality hardware will become commonplace, with meetings increasingly moving from laptop webcams, microphones and speakers to purpose built communication devices. The improving technology will lead to more natural video conferencing communication, reducing the prevalence of 2020’s secondary pandemic, ‘Zoom fatigue’.

3. Businesses to widen search for talent

With improving communication technology, an increasing skills shortage in technology and specialist sectors, businesses will look to broaden their geographical horizons in search of talent. Talent will dictate recruitment rather than location, with managers bringing teams together remotely, rather than in the office. This will amplify the requirement for offices and working practices to adapt and evolve, with managers having to develop their skills towards managing a remote team effectively.

4. Investment in productivity management and employee retention technology

With employees spending more time out of the office, businesses will look to technology to support their challenges around productivity and employee retention. Video conferencing is well placed to be right at the heart of this move with Microsoft and Google offering a range of additional services in their Office 365 and G-suite bundles, and Zoom has made early strides in the direction to support in-meeting collaborative apps, with apps for Asana, Trello and Slack among the first apps set to launch soon.

5. Growth in outsourcing the management of technology

With remote working high on the agenda, enterprise businesses will look to managed service providers to support their in-house technology teams. Remote technology management will help this shift, with online and office support likely to guarantee the high levels of service availability global businesses require. This move will be driven by business continuity planning and could lead to further growth opportunities for the biggest players in the global technology market.

We’re certainly expecting the sector to go from strength to strength. What do you think? What predictions would you make for the next few years in the sector?

At DMS, we supply and integrate video conferencing solutions to help businesses worldwide communicate simply and effectively. If you need a solution for your team, let us know.

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Ruairi is a Director at DMS, and brings 15 years of experience in the industry.
January 26th, 2021