After a strong and impactful 2015 which included both the introduction of industry-first collaboration technology that redefined the market and a celebration of its 25th anniversary, Polycom today is unveiling its top seven collaboration technology predictions for 2016. We believe these trends will transform the Workplace of the Future.
Without question, 2015 will go into history as a pivotal year in the collaboration industry. At the beginning of the year, Polycom predicted big changes to the collaboration landscape, including increased use of collaboration tools in global companies, dramatic changes to workspaces, and a structural change to the way people meet. Over the course of the last 12 months, the industry has shifted. Workspaces are better equipped to handle the challenges that come with open and huddle environments. New technology solutions were launched in 2015 that have made collaboration easier and more productive. These solutions recognize the number people in a room and can block out extraneous noises commonly found in open office environments. Most importantly, new solutions are transforming the impact collaboration has on organizations across the globe. Doctors in Utrecht, The Netherlands, performed and broadcast to medical students all around the globe, the world’s first 3-Dimensional surgery, changing the game relative to medical education and the delivery of better outcomes for patients.
After a transformative 2015, Polycom envisions these major themes for 2016:
1. The Millennial Generation is shaping the Workplace of the Future
The question of which generation will have the largest impact on the Workplace of the Future has been answered. In 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force and they are the most active and engaged through social networks, using technology more frequently than any other generation to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues. They are natural collaborators and gravitate to video for both communication and learning. In a recent study commissioned by Polycom, 78 percent of millennials indicated access to the technology they preferred to use makes them more productive at work. What they experience in their personal lives, they expect in the workplace. We expect millennials will have a greater impact on shaping the workplace in 2016, and we believe companies who do not offer a stimulating work experience with a rich set of collaboration tools will be in danger of losing top talent. We believe the Workplace of the Future is one that can successfully mesh together the millennial generation with the existing workforce.
2. Mobility is now about the collaboration of devices
The Workplace of the Future is not a location and work is now anywhere you are, not a place you go. It is centered on being able to perform work tasks from any location, at any time, from any device, with the same level of productivity as can be achieved in the office. A recent Polycom-commissioned study showed 90 percent of businesses in the U.S. are offering or expanding remote working options and this is dramatically changing how we work. Collaboration in the age of mobility reaches beyond the specific applications a device provides, and is more about seamless integration across different devices and locations. In 2016, we expect there will be an increased focus on how devices interact with each other to deliver an integrated collaboration experience. The ability to connect consistently and easily across mobile devices, personal systems and group collaboration systems with the same voice, content and video experiences will ensure productivity for the mobile workforce. In the next year we also expect to see more workers using their mobile devices as personal “remotes” and to connect, control and interact with enterprise collaboration solution, from anywhere.
3. Web technologies are maturing but interoperability remains a challenge
Leveraging the web browser to access collaboration has been an objective for the industry and WebRTC is emerging as a viable technical option. Ira Weinstein, senior analyst of Wainhouse Research, predicts that over the next 3 – 5 years, as more browsers become WebRTC friendly, enterprises will embrace the technology. Initially this approach will simplify video interactions with customers, but over time extend to business collaboration as well. WebRTC enables browser-to-browser video connections without the need to install plug-ins or additional technology. However, despite considerable interest we expect it will be some time before WebRTC sees widespread adoption. This is due to lack of standardization, inconsistent browser support, and minimal interoperability between WebRTC applications and established enterprise collaboration solutions. In a recent survey conducted by Virgin Media Business, just 27 percent of respondents acknowledge web conferencing as the most effective tool for remote collaboration. Instead, we expect WebRTC will play an important role in familiarizing more end users with video communications, but continue to fall short of the audio, content-sharing and video quality found in enterprise-grade visual collaboration systems. For WebRTC to reach the mainstream, interoperability with a broader spectrum of enterprise environments will be critical. Until then, we expect customers will use WebRTC alongside a host of other technologies to enable collaboration.
4. Workspaces are morphing to support new work styles
Where you work is now wherever you are and this is driving an important shift in enterprise facilities planning and IT. Visual collaboration is no longer confined to the conference room and the desk, but is extending throughout the enterprise and into virtual spaces outside the office. Audio, content sharing and video communications are no longer just conference room technologies, but now permeate every workspace inside and out of the office. In 2016, we believe the industry will place a renewed focus on enabling a wide range of workspaces, expanding huddle/smaller rooms and demonstrate an increasing desire for center-of-the-room collaboration solutions. Wainhouse Research estimates there to be 30-50 million huddle rooms around the world, the vast majority of which are lacking support for collaboration. While traditional conference rooms are still valuable for presentations, we believe they will be increasingly augmented by spaces designed to support rich collaboration and new working styles in virtual rooms, huddle rooms and open spaces.