The COVID-19 pandemic turned a measured march toward greater use of videoconferencing into a whirlwind. The availability of enterprise-class cloud conferencing options has helped keep the deployment chaos manageable, but IT teams need to think about how to ensure the availability, performance and security of videoconferencing over the long term.

“No one is in the office right now,” says Nick Barber, senior analyst at Forrester Research. “People have turned to Zoom and other videoconferencing systems like WebEx, and it’s working fine. I think right now we’re in the reactive phase with this pandemic. Universities, schools, companies, organizations – they’re all trying to figure out how to virtually enable everyone from everywhere.”

Looking ahead, how many of these pandemic-related shifts will become permanent? Will more employees remain working remotely? Will companies continue to swap conference calls for video calls when they’re hosting team meetings, job interviews, and planning sessions with clients and collaborators? How will videoconferencing applications integrate with an enterprise’s existing collaboration tools? These are some of the issues IT teams need to think about as they develop long-term videoconferencing strategies.

“Once we’ve gotten through this crisis, we’ll be able to look around and see the benefits of having the entire organization connected this way,” Barber says. “I think this could change the way a lot of companies connect. We’ve just been piecemealing this together. Once we get over this hump, companies will come up with a strategic plan for collaboration and communication around videoconferencing.”

The pandemic has changed how companies look at videoconferencing and is challenging long-held ideas about its technical difficulties, says Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. “There’s a lot of historical bias because older systems were hard to use, were complex, and the user experience could be undependable. People have long memories, and they remember those hard-to-use systems,” Kerravala says. “But everything is changing because it has to change, and video usage begets more video usage. Once they start to use it, they tend to like it and then they want to use it more. If you’re going to be doing multi-party calls, it’ll just be better with a video call.”

Network implications of videoconferencing

As companies jump deeper into videoconferencing, the network and scalability requirements become more apparent. Videoconferencing, whether it’s a cloud-based conferencing service or a high-end immersive telepresence system, is going to put a spotlight on any trouble spots or weaknesses in the enterprise network.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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