2020 is the year the world witnessed a dramatic shift change in the way people work, not seen since the industrial revolution, as organisations and institutions scrambled to enable people to work and learn remotely. In March, web conferencing internet search terms like Skype, Zoom, and Teams as well as ‘free conference call’ achieving year-on-year growth from 270% (in the case of Skype) to 1057% (any surprise that this was Zoom) as the world adapted to life behind the screen. Teams and Zoom have emerged from the first wave of the pandemic as the video call leaders. Microsoft has seen Teams usage double from 32M in March to 75M daily active users in April 2020. Zoom recently announced that they now see more than 300M of us using the platform every day!

It’s hardly surprising then, as the world faces a second wave of lockdowns and remote working, these two video giants have announced brand new features to enhance the user experience, here is a look at some of our favourites;

Teams for teams

In September 2020, Microsoft announced several new features are coming to Teams in the next few months. These new features will make the meeting experience on Teams more engaging and dynamic. In response to the video fatigue of back-to-back video calls, Together Mode uses AI segmentation to digitally place meeting participants into a shared background, making it feel that all meeting participants are in the same boardroom, classroom, or even the coffee shop. Together Mode also uses machine learning to automatically scale and centre meeting participants in their virtual seats, regardless of how close or far-away users are from the camera, creating a more realistic visual experience.

Custom layouts allow presenters to customise how content appears for participants during the meeting, placing a video feed of the meeting presenter onto the foreground of a PowerPoint presentation, creating high-impact visuals that are inviting and engaging. ‘Breakout rooms‘ enable meeting organisers to split participants into smaller groups for small team collaboration work. The presenter can hop between rooms, make announcements to all breakout rooms, and close rooms to return everyone to the central meeting. Meeting recap will provide delegates with a reminder of the meeting, with recordings, transcripts, chat, files, and much more automatically created as a record and stored in SharePoint, increasing meeting productivity and accessibility.

Microsoft also confirmed the intention to improve the Teams meeting experience in offices with ‘touchless’ technologies, including using Teams mobile as a remote for Microsoft Teams devices. Users will be able to control cameras and audio and be able to join or leave meetings without touching the central console. They will even be able to use Microsoft Cortana for voice activation.

2020, the year ‘Zoom’ became a verb

In October 2020, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan announced that Zoom focus for the future would be on providing a more ‘immersive, secure and collaborative experience’ for customers who spend a large portion of their day on Zoom (so that’s pretty much all of us), launching some fantastic new features for the platform.

We love the new Zapps feature, bringing applications into the Zoom meeting experience such as Dropbox and Slack, Recognising the impact of Corona on physical events, OnZoom is Zoom’s new virtual event platform, enabling users to host one-time events for up to 1000 attendees. Security has been a real issue for Zoom in the past, but their new encryption plans for end-to-end encryption will undoubtedly give more confidence to large Enterprise clients that have perhaps steered away from the platform in the past.

Teams and Zoom might be the two largest video collaboration platforms on the market, but they are by no means the only options. Google Meet enables real-time, enterprise-grade video meetings as well as content sharing and chat functionality, handily all from your browser.

Other platforms are available…

Cisco WebEx Teams enables people to meet together quickly, whether they are together in the meeting room or remote. Like Teams and Zoom, WebEx Teams can start meetings with the touch of a button, join from anywhere and switch devices seamlessly, with instant messaging functionality, whiteboarding, and file sharing. WebEx might seem similar to before mentioned applications, but Cisco delivers end-to-end encryption now, and for added control, users can manage their own encryption keys on-premises.

Whatever happens in the near future, one thing is certain, video collaboration will be part of our everyday life moving forward, and as these platforms continue to develop and improve, they will become a more immersive experience.

With so many available options, the path to choosing the right video collaboration platform for your business can be daunting. The team at Lewcon AV understands the value of video collaboration in the workplace. We have a wealth of experience delivering video conferencing solutions that make a difference to your employees. With our extensive vendor partner network and a consultative approach to identify your technology objectives, we engage with you at each stage of the project to deliver the right environment to bring teams together to collaborate effectively, regardless of location.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you save time and become more productive through video collaboration.

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