How video calling has evolved… and where it’s going next

How-video-calling-has-evolved-and-where-its-going-next

Over the past few months, video calling has exploded in both our personal and professional lives. We not only rely on regular calls to stay connected with our loved ones during this time of lockdown, but have come to depend on it as a primary mode of communication at work, in order to maintain the same standards of collaboration and interaction that we experienced in the office. Indeed, the number of people using video calling on a regular basis has increased by 87% over the past two years[1], and shows no sign of slowing down.

Why is video calling becoming the new default for professionals?

It's not hard to see why video calling is so widely used at this point in time. With workforce's distributed across the country, it has become the only way for many of us enjoy face-to-face contact with our friends, families and colleagues. There's no doubt that after many years of being a relatively niche method of communication, video calling has shown its true strength in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. So why has it taken so long for the professional world to fully embrace this technology, considering the tools have been available for some time now?

In many ways, this comes down to company culture. Many sectors have well-established ways of working that have served them well for many years, and naturally been reluctant to change them until COVID-19 forced the issue. But there's also a technological challenge involved.

One of the main reasons we've been hesitant to make video calling the standard mode of remote communication in the workplace is that it is inherently bandwidth intensive. If the available bandwidth is not sufficient, the call quality will suffer, to the extent that it can become unusable, particularly with team calls. As a result, many organisations have largely depended on VOIP services and similar platforms for conference calling, despite of the numerous advantages offered by video-based solutions.

Consider these recent statistics:

  • 94% of organisations who have implemented video calling report that it has improved their overall productivity.
  • 89% of employees report that video calling reduces projects' time to completion.
  • 72% of organisations have found video calling has improved employee retention.
  • 75% of CEOs believe video conferencing will replace conference calls. 

[2] Ibid.

Just as organisations who have previously been reluctant to embrace a distributed workforce are now reaping the benefits, it's clear that video calling is going to be a huge part of our post-COVID working environment. Indeed, we've witnessed this at Exponential-e - both with our own teams and those of our customers and partners - as employees are now expected to have their cameras on by default - a significant cultural shift compared to just one year ago.

Adopting an efficient approach to bandwidth prioritisation

The key to the future success of this new model is ensuring the platforms (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts etc.) are supported by the right infrastructure, to ensure they consistently deliver the required standard of performance. A secure, high-performance network is obviously essential here, but - as we touched on above - it's equally important to ensure the available bandwidth is sufficient.

This, however, can often prove difficult for remote workers living in shared accommodation or with their families. Sharing a home network means all residents will be in competition for the available bandwidth, whether they are also working from home or enjoying the various streaming and gaming platforms that so many of us have depended on throughout lockdown. It is, of course, possible to ask housemates or family members to jump off the Wi-Fi before a work-related video call, but this will not always prove practical for houses with multiple remote workers and isn't likely to be well-received by family members in the long run. Rather than rely on housemates' and family members' goodwill to ensure sufficient bandwidth is available when needed, it makes far more sense to prioritise business-critical applications. Our SD-HOME solution accomplishes this with enhanced application recognition and control, automatically granting bandwidth priority to pre-approved applications whilst providing the additional advantage of applying corporate security policies to your home network. This way, the issue of bandwidth prioritisation is resolved without any additional effort required from either remote workers or company IT teams, freeing the end users to focus on their calls and, in turn, their business goals.

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