Travel bans and video conferencing: Why the demand for video is growing

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to soar, we look at why it's crucial that businesses include video in their communication stack...

Geoff Burns

17/03/2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused businesses across the globe to re-evaluate their day-to-day operations over the last few weeks.

Everywhere you look, there are articles about the things that you can do to avoid the coronavirus outbreak and reports on businesses shutting down under the threat of infection.

While the rise of COVID-19 is a horrifying thing for people all over the world, it’s also the catalyst that’s forcing many businesses to rethink the way that they work. The number of remote working citizens throughout various significant parts of the globe is increasing, as team members are encouraged to stay home and avoid the dangers of their commute.

Unfortunately, even if you were willing to risk traveling for a face-to-face meeting, that option may be removed from you entirely. Travel bans are pushing more companies to leave their concerns about remote work behind once and for all.

While some work can happen naturally from a remote environment, like responding to emails and filling out forms, other interactions rely more heavily on face to face conversation. It’s challenging to convey complicated information to a team of employees and stakeholders without the nuances of body language to rely on.

The good news? Video conferencing allows us to replicate the face-to-face conversation without having to worry about hand sanitizer and face masks.

Here’s your guide to video conferencing in an age where it could be the only safe form of face-to-face conversation.

The latest spike in video conferencing popularity

Companies have been talking about video conferencing and its benefits for years now.

Even before we had the threat of epidemics to worry about, most people would have rather had the chance to avoid exhausting long commutes and red-eye flights that allowed them to meet face-to-face with their colleagues.

Collaboration tools with video conferencing functionality built-in, like Microsoft Teams, has pushed some more forward-thinking brands to dip their toes into the concept of true tele-conferencing. However, coronavirus and the travel bans have led to the biggest impact that the industry has seen on video conferencing so far.

Leading video conferencing company, BlueJeans, recently announced that they had seen a massive influx in the number of customers using their service to work from home. The video conferencing traffic on the BlueJeans network increased by 4 times in China and 3 times in the Asia Pacific in the last month.

Elsewhere, Zoom Video Communications has seen the value of its stock skyrocketing in recent weeks as the coronavirus crisis continues to limit international travel- driving more demand for video conferencing. Over the last five trading days as of writing, the values of Zoom shares have increased by 25%.

Businesses in the collaboration and video conferencing landscape are even beginning to offer some of their basic services for free to aid with the crisis. At the beginning of March, Google announced that it would be delivering support to up to 250 participants in meetings for free on Google Hangouts Meet. Additionally, Microsoft Teams lifted the restrictions on free Teams users for video conferencing, allowing more people to interact over the web without having to pay extra for their service.

What to look for in your video conferencing tools

This new rise in demand for video conferencing technology doesn’t just represent an opportunity for companies to take advantage of freebies and discounts, however. Instead, it’s an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and start assessing how you can update your communication stack for good.

If you’ve been on the fence about implementing a video conferencing service up until now, then there’s no better push to get you moving than a worldwide epidemic.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that just any video tool will do for your organisation. Here are some of the points that we recommend looking at when making the choice of which conferencing service to invest in:

  • Number of participants: How many people are likely to sit in on your conferences, and how many people can your video conferencing tool support? Some products are designed more for one-on-one meetings and small groups than large enterprise-wide broadcasts. Think about the types of meetings you’re going to be holding and keep that in mind when making your choice.
  • Video quality: The last thing you want to be worrying about when you’re trying to keep in touch with your teams in a crisis situation is poor quality video. Make sure that you choose a conferencing provider that can deliver excellent reliability in your feeds. Some services today even offer the option to access HD video from any device, provided that you have the right internet connection and bandwidth.
  • Ease of use: Even the best video conferencing services won’t help your situation if your teams don’t feel comfortable using them. Make sure that you choose a service that’s going to be easy to access for everyone on your team – not just the digital nomads and first adopters.
  • Flexibility: Not everyone will be able to join your video meetings from a desktop device or laptop. You may have some of your team dialling in from their smartphone too. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that your video conferencing service can provide an excellent experience for mobile users too.
  • Feature set: There’s more to video conferencing than just streaming video. You may need a solution that allows you to save the highlights of a meeting for later, via audio and video recording tools. You may also want to think about adding context to your meeting with screen sharing features, file sharing, and even presentations.
  • Application integration: Many video conferencing solutions today allow you to integrate third-party applications. For instance, Microsoft Teams delivers access to the entire Microsoft Office stack. With application integrations, you can make it easier for your team members to manage their conversations and their work in the same environment.

Don’t forget to think about the quality of customer service that you’re going to be getting from your video conferencing provider too. When something goes wrong, it’s helpful to know that there’s someone on the other end of the phone who can answer your questions.

The working landscape is changing faster than ever: A case study

It’s impossible to ignore the rise of video conferencing right now.

CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan has even shared his thoughts with the world in a news report, outlining the fact that the coronavirus outbreak could potentially lead to a permanent shift in the way that we work.

Thousands of employees at substantial tech companies across the globe, from Amazon to Microsoft, are now working at home thanks to the spread of the latest epidemic. What’s more, even those who aren’t working remotely are being forced to rely more heavily on remote-working tools like collaboration software and video conferencing, particularly as more flights are grounded.

Just look at China, for instance, where the outbreak originated. Here, the Microsoft Teams group has seen a 500% increase in the number of people relying on video conferencing and calling, as well as a 200% increase in people using Teams on mobile devices.

We’ve even seen the impact of the video conferencing revolution here at Nice Networks. In the last couple of weeks alone, we’ve had one client come to us in search of a reliable way to take their communication stack to the next level. Using cloud technology and Voice2Teams to make their collaboration and calling technology available from anywhere, the business has been able to become entirely remote in less than a fortnight.

With a flexible digital solution that uses both Microsoft Teams and a hosted cloud-based PBX system for call recording, management, and conversations, the company can provide its workers with the opportunity to stay productive wherever they are, without taking the risk of coming into the office.

The solution not only gives the team members an option to work from home whenever necessary, it also means that the brand can reach out to people in global offices around the world without having to work around grounded flights and travel bans.

As Geoff Burns from Nice Network says: “The panic of the coronavirus and global epidemics is pushing us to wake up to the value of video conferencing and start taking it seriously as a crucial addition to the communication stack. Companies that have ignored the demand for cloud communications and video in the past are being forced to move beyond their old fashioned thought processes once and for all. The age of business without video is over.”

Stay one step ahead of disaster with video

As more companies struggle to maintain crucial conversations with employees, clients, and shareholders overseas, video has emerged as the only flexible, reliable, and safe option to ensure face-to-face discussions.

For years now, we’ve known that the video conferencing environment has had the potential to change the way that we communicate forever. It seems as though this new epidemic has been the straw that broke the camel’s back for many businesses. Even if you’ve ignored any concept of video conferencing up until now, it’s time to make a change.

Video conferencing isn’t just the future anymore; it’s a crucial part of our present. Reach out to Nice Network today to learn more about including video in your communication stack.