Enterprise video must be as easy as your apps
by Daniel Newman
Does secure, enterprise level video collaboration have to be difficult? It should be as easy to use as the apps on your smartphone.
I'll confess to something I’m sure many of you will relate to: I frequently communicate with colleagues over Google+ Hangouts. However, I do prefer an enterprise-grade video tool for important business conversations with clients. Proprietary conversations, like those with clients or your CFO, need to have a high level of security built into them. And that’s when the difference between the Hangout versus an enterprise grade video system becomes apparent. Hangouts are easy to use but less secure; it’s the other way around for enterprise grade tools. Why can’t we have the best of both worlds?
Easy, secure video conferencing is still an enterprise dream
The problem with enterprise video is that modern consumers — spoiled by the ease of using consumer apps like Skype, Google+, and FaceTime — have come to expect intuitive, easy to use tools. Accustomed to one-click messaging and instant audio/video chat on consumer video, they expect the same ease-of-use from enterprise video collaboration systems when at work.
Many video providers claim to offer easy enterprise-grade solutions, but truth be told, simple business video conferencing is still as mythological as the unicorn. We’ve been waiting patiently for video collaboration as easy to use as our phones are, but our experience in the real world of video conferencing tells us that level of simplicity just isn’t there yet.
Sure, we have many enterprise video solutions with ad-hoc video capabilities, but most of them still require users to dial-in, or use special security settings in order to join the conversation. Ideally, easy and secure video conferencing would come without these additional steps. It should allow us to connect with a single click, like we do when we call, text, or send an email.
Video Needs to Become an App
The key value offered by enterprise level video collaboration tools is the security and privacy of data that free apps lack; oftentimes business video tools require a steep learning curve and tend to not be super friendly when it comes to mobile or universal communication. Perhaps this is why enterprise level adoption of video conferencing has been steady, but slow—definitely nowhere near as rapid as we would expect, given its longevity in the marketplace. Here’s the thing—when a complicated hardware system forces users to gather in one room, every single time they want to collaborate or hold a meeting, you can rest assured that many people won’t use it.
The answer may lie in using video conferencing as a software application. In a case like this, it needs to be tied intimately to the user experience to ensure everyone in the organization willingly uses it. Those vested with the responsibility of choosing the software must do so after considering several critical factors, including user interface (is it simple enough?), interoperability (can it work with your existing systems?), and the level of training needed (is it easy to pick-up, no matter one’s level of tech knowledge?).
Easy Video: Hope or Reality?
Our obsession with consumer products and expecting the same level of service from enterprise products, or the dream of video conferencing that’s as “easy as a phone call” may be a tad unfair at this point. In a recent TechTarget article, Mike Westlund, senior director of IT for the social collaboration vendor Jive makes a valid point: “The problem lies with the way people think of real-time communications—they are comparing video to audio’s 100-year-old infrastructure…the video environment still is a variable at this point.”¹
Customer demand is what businesses strive to meet. Innovation is built around customer demand, and this is the same factor that pushes brands out of their comfort zone, challenging them to do more.
For enterprise video to become more widely accepted, it must cater to the end users’ demands for an intuitive, simple, secure, and easy-to-use video experience. Therefore, moving forward, enterprise video needs to start thinking like an application, where the focus is always on user experience. After all, customer experience is the foundation for future sales, isn’t it?
- 1. Narcisi, Gina. Business Video Conferencing: Will Users Ever Prefer Visual Calls? TechTarget.