Future Workplace

Ten trends that will intensify the growth of video communications

In today's world of technology high-speed Internet access, cloud computing and an explosion of smartphones, tablets and wearable devices is shortening distance and space and making the world more connected. Video and video-conferencing is at the confluence of these revolutionary changes, and innovative CIOs must help their organizations share knowledge, retain talent, build trust, enhance collaboration and fuel innovation by exploiting existing and emerging videoconferencing tools to create new products and services.

In his recent white paper, "Revolutionizing the Future Workplace," Jack Ulrich, renowned global futurist and best-selling author, listed the following ten trends that will intensify the growth of video communications.

  1. Web Real-Time Communications protocols will make it easier to make video calls through a web browser or smartphone. As a result, video customer calls—such as Amazon's "MayDay" button, Citibank's new video-chat function and Apple's "Spin" video chat app—will become more popular among businesses seeking to improve customer service as well as workers looking to collaborate with their colleagues.
  2. Advances in data storage technology will spur the continued growth of cloud computing and Video Conferencing as a Service (VCaaS). The latter is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34% through 2020 in large part because cloud computing is lowering the financial risk to users by eliminating the need for businesses to own data storage hardware.
  3. UltraHD (4K) and higher video resolution will continue to improve in terms of price, quality and performance. As it does, more users will migrate to video as a means of effective collaboration. Continued software advances will also increase the number and type of devices (e.g. PCs, tablet, smartphones, wearables, virtual reality tools, etc.) that can accommodate video.
  4. Smartphone, tablets, and telepresence robots will become more widespread. In 2013, the U.S. government agreed to allow physicians to conduct remote video consultations with patients, and in the summer of 2014, a major European automobile manufacturer began allowing technicians at its headquarters to video-chat with mechanics as a way to extend top-quality service to its customers. Expect others in the agriculture, banking, government, manufacturing and retail sectors to follow suit.
  5. Wearable technology. Currently best exemplified by Google Glass, Oculus Rift and Samsung's Project Morpheus—wearable technology will grow from sales of 10 million units this year to 100 million units by 2018 These devices will increasingly integrate video. Google Glass, for example, has a new app that allows users to broadcast what they are seeing and it's being used by hospitals and energy companies to educate students and engage workers in innovative ways; whereas Oculus Rift is being employed by companies such as Tesla to radically transform how industrial components are designed and manufactured.
  6. Multi-core chips. 48-core—and potentially even 1000-thousand core—chips will provide smartphones and other electronic devices unparalleled video capabilities. In June of 2014, the first holographic smartphone was released, and by late 2015 next-generation smartphones and holographic tables are expected to possess the ability to show a range of motion irrespective of the viewer's location. The latter could allow any room to become video-capable. Multi-core chips will also provide smartphones and other electronic devices the ability to perform multiple functions, including speech recognition, voice translation and improved video search.
  7. The Internet of Things. By 2020, the number of physical objects connected to the Internet will grow to 50 billion and the long-term economic opportunity of "The Internet of Things" is estimated to be between $10-$15 trillion. While distinct from the other trends facilitating the growth of video, the Internet of Things—sometimes referred to as the "Industrial Internet" or machine-to-machine communication—will facilitate video by making it easier and more natural for people to interact with the tools and objects of the physical world.
  8. Broadband and mobile will get exponentially faster. The government of South Korea, Google and a handful of other municipalities around the world are already planning for fixed Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit, and Samsung has stated its 5G network will boost mobile speeds 100-fold. In a world where an hour of high-definition video can be downloaded in 6 seconds, new entertainment and workplace applications for video will arise. Furthermore, more video applications are likely to emerge because the flexibility of wireless networks will allow video collaboration to be conducted anywhere, anytime via mobile and wearable devices.
  9. Global Internet Access. Within the next six years the expectation is that 1000 nanosats and 30,000 drones are expected to be launched. In combination with other ambitious projects such as Project Loon—Google's plan to deploy a network of high-altitude balloons to help deliver high-speed Internet access—it is not beyond the realm of possibility that by 2020 all 7-plus billion inhabitants on the planet will have the ability to send and receive video.
  10. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Increasingly popular online programs such as EdX, Udacity, Coursera and Open Education Alliance will gain in popularity— especially among younger generations—due to their growing accessibility, popularity, low-cost and ease-of-use.

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About the Author
Jack Uldrich is a renowned global futurist and the best-selling author of eleven books. He is a frequent guest on national media and regularly appears on the Science Channel's television program, "FutureScape" and the Discovery Channel show "Inside Out." He is a prolific speaker on technology, change management and leadership and has addressed Fortune 100 corporations, venture capital firms, associations, not-for-profit organizations and state and regional governments on five continents.