What does the future of conferencing look like?

A person video conferencing
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Most businesses are already familiar with the concept of a conference, and whether that’s in person, by phone or on video, the premise remains the same. We’re used to connecting with colleagues and clients to discuss business opportunities, but how we conference is due to change in the 2020s and beyond.

Whether you want to equip your business with everything needed for a futureproof conference or you’re just curious about what comes next, below are some of the key changes happening in the workplace.

Video calling is here to stay 

With a rise in home working and other hybrid working routines as a result of the pandemic, it makes sense to keep workers distanced in order to prevent the spread of any infections and illnesses. 

In an effort to keep people connected, businesses have invested in video conferencing systems for their workers. While choosing the best system for your company, you’ll realize that user experience is high on the agenda. What this means is unique to each business, and includes things like having additional features, support for high resolution video and audio, or how accessible any program may be to less-than-tech-savvy staff. Historically, users have had to adapt the way they work in order to fit a particular application, but the best video conferencing systems now compete to offer exactly what the client wants.

At the dawn of the pandemic when people were adjusting to a new hybrid working routine, poor camera quality and dodgy angles were acceptable. Two years later this is no longer the case, with businesses investing in business webcams that feature high-definition lenses and powerful microphones.

Improved accessibility 

Teams are turning their backs on traditional desktop computers in favor of more portable options, including any combination of laptops, tablets and smartphones. This, and the widespread rollout of 5G networks globally, means high-resolution video and audio should be expected as standard.

This mobile revolution will force video conferencing suite makers to offer just as strong an experience on a mobile device as a computer, so we can expect easy-to-use user interfaces full of powerful features.

Those communicating from outside of the business - who may not have the relevant system installed on their machine - will be able to participate in calls online through the implementation of browser-based applets. Although likely to be lacking in some features, these browser-based experiences will help create a streamlined experience without the need to install countless apps.

Our experiences will become augmented 

Thanks to the superfast speeds provided by 5G cellular connections and gigabit broadband, the web will continue its evolution from a simple read-write setup to include augmented and virtual reality, and this extends to our conference rooms.

Tech will range from simple background blurring and voice isolation to help cancel out sounds like dogs barking and babies crying, to virtual spaces where co-workers are able to communicate with one another in a digital room.

Companies operating across international borders will be keen to hear that technology soon to arrive on our computers will enhance their experience in real-time. Similar to text translation, live voice translation will streamline multilingual conversations without the need to employ multiple translators.

Artificial intelligence will feature dynamic face tracking helping participants to maintain eye contact enabling them to pick up on thousands of social and visual cues, blurring the boundaries between in-person and online encounters.

With an increased reliance on cloud-based systems, companies will become less dependent on their own hardware and servers. This will help to both reduce costs and to provide the same experience for users whether they are in the office or not.

More of a focus on internal communications 

We’re familiar with the idea of conferencing for external networking, but the 2020s will see conferencing become just as useful internally. We’ve already explored the concept of project-based working that challenges the conventional hierarchical structure that usually occurs in the workplace, and internal conferencing will only aid this.

In the interest of team-based work, the physical landscape will change. Conventional rows of desks will be partly replaced by multipurpose huddle and conference rooms. A good conference room will give users access to an array of hardware such as large displays and video bars, while focus rooms give workers the opportunity to collaborate digitally.

A deeper integration of video conferencing suites will eliminate the need for some workers to commute, while improving collaboration and productivity. Internal calls will become daily occurrences, but they will be kept short and to the point.

Any messages or follow-up discussions that can be moved to email or instant messaging platforms will help shift the focus of conferencing away from intense screen use as ‘conferencing’ begins to adopt a more fluid meaning - many of us are already too familiar with Zoom fatigue.

Informal is the new formal 

While video conferencing in entirely reliant on technology, even in-person conferencing will involve a certain degree of tech. Most will welcome the change in language used, which will become more conversational than formal. This makes corporate environments more welcoming, boosting many workers’ productivity. Businesses will be able to attract a more diverse workforce as a result.

As gamification becomes more prevalent in online tools, it’s likely to make its way to real-life encounters too. Zoom participants can respond with emojis, for example, and more interactive tools like polling and Q&As will be more commonly integrated into our encounters.

Enhanced security 

As businesses begin to outsource their online tools rather than maintain in-house solutions, any software or piece of equipment will need to have its security tuned up.

Expect VPNs to become mainstream, allowing users to mask their location and prevent prying eyes from gaining unwanted access to confidential data. All communications, from instant messaging to video calls, will be end-to-end encrypted so that only the intended machines and accounts are involved.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!