I have been writing about end-user adoption of video technology for almost 15 years. For years, the sentiment with manufacturers and integrators was, “This is going to be the year video really breaks out!” Although the industry experienced steady growth, widespread adoption did not happen overnight. However, we have finally reached a tipping point and end-user spending on video and collaboration technology is significantly on the rise.

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According to data from Vyopta, video usage of the median organization grew by over 100 percent from 2013 to 2015, with a CAGR of 45 percent.

Cisco forecasts that video usage rates will continue to skyrocket, and by 2018 over 80 percent of all internet traffic will be video usage.

Forrester estimates that the global collaboration market has reached $4 billion.

Why now? Why did it take so long for the market to embrace video and collaboration?

There are a number of factors coming together in a perfect storm to drive investment including:

  • The rise of a distributed workforce

  • Widespread adoption of mobile technology

  • The commoditization of products

  • The proliferation of cloud-based offerings

  • The millennials are here

But it’s not enough to invest in the technology. It is critical that organizations have a clear view of how its employees are working and how technology will be leveraged.

Videoconferencing systems of the past were much more expensive and looked at as more of an executive-only tool. The systems deployed were expensive to operate, lacked interoperability, were not user-friendly and went largely under-utilized.

All of this has changed. Today, employees are demanding user-friendly solutions. A report from Deloitte, The Millennial Majority is Transforming Your Culture, discusses how millennials expect to collaborate openly, using tools that allow them to gain visibility with others, exchange ideas and innovate solutions. Millennials are looking for new ways of solving business issues without the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality.

By 2020, millennials will represent 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, and Boomers will decrease to 25 percent. This is a complete reversal from 2010, when millennials represented 25 percent and Boomers 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.

The push for investment is coming from the bottom up. No longer is video just for management meetings or formal presentations. Video collaboration can drive revenue and new business opportunities and has become a business tool that can save organizations time and money. In fact, organizations where video collaboration can help employees get things done better are the ones experiencing the highest rates of adoption.

The mobile revolution has transformed the way employees work. The philosophy that work isn’t where you go, it’s what you do is already shaping investment in modern AV technology for an increasingly mobile and remote workforce.

Work no longer has to happen in the office between nine and five. In a world where work can happen anytime, anywhere and anyplace, organizations need to invest in next-generation technology to enable collaboration. This is quickly becoming the new norm.

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GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com reports that 50 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework. In sprawling urban environments, workers live greater and greater distances away from the office, and long commute times make working remotely (at least part of the time) a necessity.

Vancouverites know a thing or two about sitting in traffic. We are the most congested city in Canada, with the longest commute times in the country. Having worked at home for over 15 years, I don’t think I could go back to commuting an hour-plus each way to and from the office. Walking 20 feet down the hall is a much better option! However, this is only made possible with modern technology.

One of the best ways employers can help cut down their workers’ travel times and lost congestion-related driving hours is by investing in technology that provides a work environment that supports all workers all the time, regardless of their location. Employers have received this message, and are investing in technologies that allow a mobile and remote workforce to maximize productivity regardless of where and when the work takes place.

One of the biggest weaknesses of legacy videoconferencing solutions is the difficulty for remote participants to see everyone and actively participate in a meeting. The ability to provide a video connection for mobile workers is not enough; this is one of the main reasons that legacy video systems go largely under-utilized.

We should not underestimate the significance of decreasing prices, and the role this plays in driving demand.

The lower price tag for video and collaboration systems is bringing the latest solutions in reach of entirely new markets and creating more opportunities for manufacturers and their channel partners.

New modern video and collaboration technology is more affordable than ever before. No longer is AV just for the C-suite, now video and collaboration must work across the entire organization. This is driving demand for standardized solutions that can be easily deployed.

The IMCCA estimates that custom AV installations are now only appropriate in 10 to 20 percent of rooms, with standardized solutions available that address 80 to 90 percent of rooms. This represents a massive shift in a market that historically derived the majority of revenues from custom installations.

Where does this leave the manufacturer and the systems integrator?

In a recent interview with Commercial Integrator, Julian Philips of Whitlock talks about “The Three S’s” simplicity, scalability, standardization. Whitlock sees this as what customers are ultimately looking for from their technology partners.

This is the role that the AV industry will play in a world where anywhere, anytime, anyplace communication and collaboration are the norm.

Despite the uptick in investment, we are still in the early stages of adoption. Cisco estimates less than 10 percent of existing meetings spaces are equipped with video technology. It will take years for organizations to outfit all meeting spaces with modern solutions. This translates to significant opportunity for manufacturers and integrators that offer next-generation digital solutions.

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