Remote working has pushed much of our communication, transactions, and working processes online in order to adhere to isolation guidelines, meet customer needs, and future-proof services in an ever-increasing remote world. This has been a particular struggle for small businesses that lack the infrastructure and resources to make the required changes without much upheaval.
Thankfully, video conferencing has been a huge help for many small business owners. Video conferencing, from Zoom technology to Google Meet, has played a significant role in small business success during the pandemic. This remote method of communication has allowed businesses to keep in touch with their clients, contact their customers, and ensure efficiency within their teams, despite distance and various restrictions.
In this article, we will be discussing the future of video conferencing for small businesses.
What is Video Conferencing?
Video conferencing, otherwise called video calls or video chat, is an online form of communication where everyone from individuals to large corporations can communicate with others in video format. Video conferencing is a particularly useful tool for businesses, allowing for clear communication between teams and with customers and clients.
Video conferencing dates back to 1964 and was typically seen as an extra, a nice special feature offered by companies. However, since then it has become the primary method of communication for businesses trying to navigate their way through the pandemic.
The first Picturephone call from Chicago to NYC, between deaf students, in 1964 Courtesy AT&T Archives and History Center
Video conferencing has helped many businesses, particularly start-ups and small businesses, maintain positive internal and external relationships during the pandemic, when social isolation, remote working, and reduced travel rules were strictly enforced.
What is the Future of Video Conferencing?
Video conferencing is expected to continue climbing in popularity, increasing in uptake, while remaining one of the most popular forms of online communication available.
Indeed, since the pandemic and the need for better online communication tools, video conferencing has changed from being a nice-to-have tool to a form of visual communication so high in demand that it is now used by the vast majority of businesses.
In fact, video conferencing has now become competitive, with businesses fighting to offer the best video conferencing software to their teams, clients, and customers for an enhanced online experience. As a result, software engineers are being tasked with developing applications that take online communication even further. With offerings such as session recordings, real-time transcriptions, advanced collaboration, and multi-party broadcasts, the future of video conferencing is looking extremely high-tech.
The future of video conferencing is expected to offer the following benefits.
Improved Video Quality
We have all experienced the joys and challenges of video calls during the pandemic. And there have been plenty of incidents (funny and otherwise) that have been reported during this time. From colleagues speaking while still on mute and background noise to pixelated images and buffering screens, video conferencing can have its challenges.
Photo by: Unsplash
As a result, online business meetings can now be held in high-quality from mobile devices through to large video conferencing rooms without any disruption to the picture or delayed loading time.
This will help small business owners present themselves to potential clients, customers, and suppliers as professional and accessible. This will increase business demand, build trust, and boost brand reputation.
As we move into the future of video conferencing, the expectation of many people is that society will become even more dependent on technology.
Photo by: TrustRadius
As a result, it is expected that video conferencing will be utilised in the future as a part of daily life. The data, provided by a Cisco survey, backs this up, explaining that 84% of respondents expect to rely on video conferencing and virtual meetings regularly. In fact, they expect one in four interactions (as a minimum) to involve video conferencing and it’s being utilised across a range of sectors.
Maxine Bremner, Head of Content and Outreach at Hive19 shares how demand for video conferencing has meant they integrated technology into their business model very early on. Maxine shares: “The demand for video conferencing during the pandemic was high, we chose to adopt digital solutions to help grow as a business and scale our product. The PR and link building industry is hugely competitive, so we knew that in order to succeed, we had to future-proof our business model. Video conferencing has meant we’ve been able to hire talent from all across the UK, connect with potential clients in a face-to-face format that otherwise might not have been possible without this technology.”
This increased demand for video conferencing is also expected to overtake traditional face-to-face meetings in popularity. We expect this is because video conferencing is far more convenient, it saves on travel costs, and it doesn’t require time away from the office, so very little time is lost. The future of video conferencing is certainly expected to change how we interact with others. We will continue to connect with people from all over the world, without having to leave the comfort of our homes.
Meta-verse Centered Solutions
Did you know that non-verbal cues make up 93% of our communication? Everything from facial expressions to body language. Without being able to see these things, it can be difficult to discern how people are feeling or what they are thinking.
One of the fears many business owners had when the world went remote was that connections between colleagues, clients, and customers would be lost. However, video conferencing has allowed businesses to keep these connections (and even create new ones) by allowing people to see and interact with each other in much the same way as they would in person.
Photo by: Unsplash
However, video conferencing is not without its challenges, as the BBC shares, “this is due in part to how hard it is to virtually replicate the most crucial piece of in-person meetings, which is how we read others: video conferencing can inhibit our minds’ ability to process discrete movements and body language [...] metaverse-centred solutions [...] may offer a secondary, safe place for colleagues to meet and collaborate - all without having to worry about Zoom etiquette or personal appearance.”
In the future, video conferencing solutions are expected to become even more life-like. As we look to the future of video conferencing, advancements in virtual reality and hologram technology are expected to become more widely available. This will allow participants in a video call to see the hologram of the person they are speaking to and interact in much the same way as they would in-person. Advancements in technology, such as these, will make our online interactions even more realistic and lifelike than they are now.
Development of Video Conferencing Software
With the challenges of the pandemic, mobile phone app usage has skyrocketed with over 28 billion apps being downloaded from the Google Play Store in 2021 alone.
App development is a continually evolving industry that changes and is defined by customer demands. App developers today are building applications that deliver solutions to make life easier. Over the last few years, this has meant adopting the latest technologies and trends to provide higher quality video conferencing, remote education, health tracking, online shopping, and entertainment than ever before.
Artificial Intelligence is a current trend in application development and is future-proofing applications for continued use in a fast-paced world. Through technologies such as machine learning algorithms and facial and speech recognition, app developers are developing mobile apps that meet customers' needs more effectively than ever before.
What’s more, the popularity of cross-platform development tools such as React Native and NativeScript are supporting developers in delivering apps that are low cost, faster to develop, and more technologically advanced for the user.
Video conferencing applications are still some of the fastest-growing apps in the development world. This is because we want and need to stay connected. App developers expect video conferencing apps to be used more than ever before as we continue to work towards a more digital future.
As you can see, there are so many ways that video conferencing is set to change in the future. This incredible technology is always improving as it adapts to the needs of businesses and users around the world.
Traditional, in-person meetings where everyone is seated around a rectangular table in a stuffy office are no longer the go-to solution. Video conferencing offers a more convenient solution. And as you can see, thanks to the continued ingenuity of talented software developers, this is only set to get better.
About the Author
Daniel Groves has collaborated with a number of online publications with the aim to further develop his knowledge and share his experience with like-minded entrepreneurs, business owners, and growth strategists.