Video Conferencing As We Know It Is Changing: Ready or Not

I have been working in the video conferencing industry since hmmmm, about 1988 and have  been blogging about it since 2006, or so.  Yikes!  So many products, so many conferences, so many changes, so much fun….

Anyway, so much for nostalgia….lets roll with the FUTURE….

The title of this blog entry kinda says it all:

Video conferencing as WE know it, is changing…..and unlike previous years, this upcoming change will wait for no one, as it will be driven NOT by the video conferencing industry, but, are you ready for this, by our USERS.  Wow!  Did you hear that?  USERS will drive this industry from here on….do you know how profound that is?  Up until now, the video conferencing industry has been providing a (really cool) TOOL, that no one (well, not exactly, but, you get my point) knew how to use.

Sure companies and individuals “used” video conferencing technology (for same old reasons like “it saves money on travel”) but did they REALLY understand how profoundly video conferencing could change their lives both at work and at home?

NOPE.  Not even close.

Up Until Now…

Video conferencing companies sold their USERS a TOOL.

Then the companies taught these USERS how to set-up that TOOL, how to use that TOOL (…here is a device we call a shovel……this is how you use it……DIG!), and sure enough, the users used that TOOL, but, only as instructed:  Sit down around this table, call this number by punching this button, talk, hang-up.

They did nothing more….they just used the TOOL.

Day in and day out, month after month, year after year….the users sat around a nice table  in a conference room, meeting with similar people in far off places.  Boring.  (But, I must say, it was amazing for it’s time….but, I am getting too nostalgic).

For 20 plus years, we provided our USERS with this (amazing) TOOL that had no external benefit except to “save money on travel” (did I already say that already?) .

THEN we added stuff to this TOOL like:  Application sharing (great!), improved audio quality (Grreat!), and high definition video (eh) so we could all sit in that expensive, beautiful, BORING, conference room and see our counterpart’s wrinkles, waddles, yellow teeth, bad hair, as they sit and (Play football?, Run?, Throw a ball?….no they) TALK (i.e. is move their lips, maybe turn their heads a bit, or roll their eyes) in glorious high definition?  You don’t need HD video to do your job, or talk to people (take off your glasses to experience SD, or worse), you DO need to collaborate effectively by: Working on documents, exchanging ideas, drawing up timelines,  throwing out ideas that can change the world, and getting feedback on those ideas…. then…. collaboratively writing papers that let the world know how dang smart you all are.

THAT is collaboration.  Voice, video, and data  working in harmony as if you were all in the same location….but, remotely located from each other.  Very Personal Telepresence like….oh, see here for the ORIGINAL Personal Telepresence concept.

But, I digress.

The Future….the kids will change our world…..

As I was saying….the world of HD / Telepresence conference room video conferencing to “save money on travel” (or to provide a wonderful human to human communication “experience”) is ending (shhhh, listen to the screaming of discontent….hear it?).  Our future USERS will end it, beeeeccaaauussseee, our USERS are finally understanding the true value, the true usefulness, the true beauty, of video conferencing.  Yipppeee!

They finally understand how to use the TOOLS we gave them to enhance their lives both at work and at home.

But not ALL of our users……mainly……just the kids.  The teens of today, the young 20 somethings, these are the USERS that will change (in the next decade or two, maybe sooner, maybe later, but it will happen) our entire world (from a video conferencing perspective).

The kids of that age grew up with computers, they grew up with the Internet, and now they go bonkers over social media in all it’s wild and diverse forms: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Blogging…..whatever.

The kids of today are comfortable with communicating virtually, they are comfortable with remote work, they are comfortable with……video conferencing.  These wunder kids call it video chatting and it comes in all forms (thanks to us for providing these TOOLS):  Skype, ooVoo, Google+ Hangouts, even Facebook tried it (it was awful and they are trying again), etc. etc.

The difference is…..

The kids of today (and leaders of tomorrow) do not care to drive to a conference room and chat in HD (even though they are, by and large, wrinkle & waddle free).  They do it from Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, the bedroom, the family room, the airport, the airplane, trains, a corn field, playground, and, yes, the conference room…..ANYWHERE!

The kids of today do not seem to have a sense of  TIME (believe me I know…I wake up at 3 AM and do my obligatory safety check around the house, and my 20 year old is on Facebook, or video chatting).  They video chat (i.e. meet and do homework) with friends……ANYTIME!

And the kids of today are helping us old farts figure this stuff out too.  Suddenly, Grandma and Grandpa can now EASILY video conference with family (thanks to a TOOL called a Smartphone).  They can use Facetime, or Skype, or any number of really cool apps on their Smartphone.

NOW, truly, the time has come that video conferencing can be used as easy as making a phone call (ahhhh, how long have I been saying this was needed….too long…) by…..ANYONE!

Let me ask THE question:  Are these kids going to have an impact on how video conferencing is used in the workplace in the near future?  YES!

And therein lies my point…..the world of video conferencing (as we know it) is going to change to a virtual work environment (not saying when, or even saying completely, so don’t get all worried about losing your job…..yet).  People of the future WILL be working from ANYWHERE, collaborating with ANYONE,  at ANYTIME.

The conference room of tomorrow will be a virtual meeting place in the cloud (for giggles read this article on virtual work I wrote in August 1995).

The video conferencing TOOLS that WE (the collective we in the video conferencing industry) provided……are finally being understood, and utilized to their true potential, by the KIDS of today.  :-)

Summary

Anytime, anyone, anywhere.  Visual collaboration leaves the conference room and finds true love….

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Published by

Mike Pihlman

Owner of AltamontCowork, a coworking location in Tracy, CA. I am the Director of ForCarol.com a 501c3 non-profit that awards college scholarships to local scholars in honor of my daughter's best friend, and our part-time daughter, Carol Phan who we lost on Sept 18, 2010, Book Review blogger (TracyReaderDad.com).

3 thoughts on “Video Conferencing As We Know It Is Changing: Ready or Not”

  1. Mike,

    Kids are going to make that change, but they need a new set of tools – not the old stuff the video conferencing “industry” has created and sold. This new set of tools will be browser based and native to all platforms.
    You can see it already in the baby steps that WebRTC is doing.

    1. Thanks for your comment. :-)

      I am mad…… At myself, because I was not thinking outside the box past the current set of tools.

      Thank you for opening my mind!

      Mike

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