Microsoft

Microsoft: Better meetings require better technology

Today's workforce expects technology--like video conferencing tools--to be cutting edge. The best enterprises will stay ahead of the curve and deliver. Microsoft thinks it has a plan that will help.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
As a tool for enterprise communication, video conferencing has been around for a relatively long time. The Polycom company, for example, was established more than 25 years ago, in 1990. For many enterprises, the day-to-day function of business could not be accomplished without the benefits of a stable video conferencing system.

But the times they are a changing. Grainy, barely audible video conference meetings are no longer acceptable. Technology in the form of smartphones, small high-definition cameras, and always-connected social media have created a new level of expectation in the workforce.

Microsoft sees this shift in video conferencing expectations as an opportunity for new and better productivity products, particularly when it comes to Office 365.

Expectations

If you have been a part of the enterprise workforce for any length of time, you have probably been at a video conferencing meeting where the technology, rather than enhancing the proceedings, was actually disruptive to the meeting. We can mock those situations now, but when you're a participant in one, it is frustrating, to say the least. More important, especially for the younger members of your workforce, it is also completely unacceptable.

These days, workers coming into the enterprise for the first time grew up using a smartphone and social media. They are used to being always connected. They use tools like Skype on a regular basis and expect the tools they use at work to operate in the same manner. After all, the technology already exists, so it is not an unreasonable expectation.

SEE: The Millennial workforce is changing how companies attract and retain new talent (Tech Pro Research)

For these workers, the initial impression of a potential employer is going to be made at the first interview, which is often conducted remotely. Makes sense—you don't want to fly candidates into town until you get to know them, and vice versa.

But what kind of impression does your enterprise leave when it conducts the interview using archaic technology? Candidates might think the enterprise in question is old and out of touch. They might wonder why this enterprise wastes so much money on such old technology instead of using Skype or some other social media technology, which is practically free and actually works better.

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Image: Microsoft News

Beyond expectations

According to a recent blog post by the Office Team, Microsoft believes there is also opportunity in providing more than just what is expected. Even with current technology running at expected levels, there is a communication gap between what can be observed live versus what can be observed via video conference.

This is why Microsoft has been spending so much time improving collaboration features in Office 365. Providing tools like virtual whiteboards, shared documents, shared cloud storage, and team-only virtual meeting spaces can close the communication gap and greatly improve the video conferencing experience.

Microsoft is also looking toward the future. For example, what if you could supplement your next video conference with technology like HoloLens? Imagine using augmented reality to create a virtual meeting space where attendees could turn their head to look at the person talking during the meeting and read their facial expressions. People attending the meeting are no longer featureless faces droning on endlessly from a distance, but fellow attendees sitting right next to you—at least virtually.

Bottom line

Microsoft is trying to visualize how technology has and will continue to affect the modern enterprise workforce. When it comes to video conferencing, the expectations are superseding older technologies. Enterprises looking to attract the youngest, best, and brightest had better offer something more than 1990s tech.

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Your thoughts

Are you still using old video conferencing technology? Why? How do you justify it?

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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