By Rob Smith, Lead Investor & Co-Founder
2021 – The year of Technology Transformations
Given the global challenges that businesses have had to deal with over the past two years, video and collaboration has become more prevalent than ever before in almost all industries. The same can be said for the adoption and consumption of cloud services, such as Zoom, which are natively designed to support remote working, and naturally best placed to support the ever-evolving world of hybrid.
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Immersive, Virtual Working
Joining a virtual meeting is now engrained in most organisations, used by employees at both home and in the office, and importantly universally adopted. These services and supporting devices are continually evolving, becoming easier to interact with, more user-focused and are developing increasingly intelligent in operation.
We have seen some significant enhancements to the Zoom platform and features over the past year with hundreds of new features and continued innovations being presented.
Some of the key enhancements that have helped deliver a more inclusive experience for connecting teams and that have helped to drive more productivity for hybrid working environments include:
Immersive View to recreate the feel of a class or conference room by placing video participants onto a single virtual background
Smart Gallery view displays multiple video feeds from a single conference room to deliver an optimal view of people in a Zoom Room
Live Transcription for converting speech to text in real time with the ability for participants to request access anonymously
Focus Mode designed with the digital learning environment in mind helps minimise distractions by providing the host and co-hosts view of all participants’ videos without other participants seeing each other
Recording Highlights uses AI to define important points of a meeting saving users time when viewing a recording
Zoom Events an all-in-one platform that allows a user to create and manage a variety of engaging virtual experiences for attendees
Whilst the Video & UC services are naturally important in the ever-evolving hybrid workspace it is essential that a seamless connection is provided through professional-grade collaboration solutions within the home or office environment. Alongside the Zoom platform enhancements, we saw some exciting hardware vendor products designed to help support this that were launched during 2021 such as:
Poly P-Series peripheral range designed for personal use delivering exceptional video & audio capabilities
Poly Studio X70 designed for larger meeting rooms supporting AI driven dual 4K cameras and exceptional audio capabilities for a seamless native experience
Poly Studio E70 a smart USB-C camera for large meeting rooms providing dual lenses with 20-megapixel 4K sensors and AI-driven camera array
Net Bar Pro targeting the larger meeting room with support from 1 to 3 display screens with advanced audio & video capabilities to deliver an immersive experience
DTEN ME Pro with Zoom for Home (Personal Zoom Rooms) capabilities and DTEN Smart Connect support enabling it to act as a peripheral for a connected PC or Mac application
- DTEN Go & Mate a new appliance for Zoom Rooms alongside those available from Poly, Neat, Yealink and Logitech
What to expect in 2022
The next twelve months will undoubtedly bring us more innovative features and platforms from technology industry leaders and the eco-system hardware manufacturers. Several new products are already targeted for release in early 2022 to continue the evolution for professionalising remote or hybrid working including:
- Neat Frame a personal solution for Zoom offering a 15.6-inch portrait touch screen with high-definition video, two-way loudspeaker, 3 mic array, and environmental sensors
- Neat One a personal USB solution that includes a high-quality camera, advanced mic array and speakers into one device supporting Zoom and other video applications
- Logitech LogiDock an all-in-one speakerphone & docking station solution supporting up to five USB peripherals and two monitors delivering a one-touch meeting experience
Strategy and Technology must be Aligned
Alongside the evolution of the services and platforms, the one aspect which no doubt will continue to evolve in 2022 is the strategic investment by companies into hybrid working.
Remote working is no longer seen as a temporary solution to tactically deal with lockdowns. Instead, delivery of professional hybrid working is paramount to successful modern operating and will take strategic planning and investment to ensure it delivers what is needed for all.
Companies are having to invest in solutions that ensure staff can both thrive and work seamlessly within a hybrid or fully remote environment. As such, many different commercial models in delivering this are already starting to emerge. This investment will become even more important in 2022 to not only attract the best talent but to also retain existing talent who want to see their employers offer flexibility, the right equipment, and necessary wellbeing support they need to perform in their environment.
As part of this strategy, we will no doubt see companies continue to invest through 2022 in various wellbeing content and overlay services, alongside the traditional furniture technology equipment, to ensure employees have the relevant tools to succeed. Alongside this employee investment, businesses will need to consider solutions that enable efficient management of both office and remote working environments, plus the effective on and off-boarding of these. To enable this there will no doubt be an emergence of new platforms and services during 2022 specifically focused in this area.
Given the change that companies had to react and deal with over the last few years, 2022 is sure to be the year in which most companies will implement a clear strategy to professionalise their remote and hybrid working environments.