- Millennials expected to shape the Workplace of the Future for years to come
- Mobility and cloud services are driving new collaboration use cases
- Visual collaboration is rapidly expanding outside of the conference room
- WebRTC is gaining traction at the edge of the enterprise but faces barriers to widespread adoption
January 04, 2016, San Jose, CA – After a strong and impactful 2015 which included both the introduction of industry-first collaboration technology that redefined the market and a celebration of its 25th anniversary, Polycom (NASDAQ:PLCM) today is unveiling its top seven collaboration technology predictions for 2016. We believe these trends will transform the Workplace of the Future.
Without question, 2015 will go into history as a pivotal year in the collaboration industry. At the beginning of the year, Polycom predicted big changes to the collaboration landscape, including increased use of collaboration tools in global companies, dramatic changes to workspaces, and a structural change to the way people meet. Over the course of the last 12 months, the industry has shifted. Workspaces are better equipped to handle the challenges that come with open and huddle environments. New technology solutions were launched in 2015 that have made collaboration easier and more productive. These solutions recognize the number of people in a room and can block out extraneous noises commonly found in open office environments. Most importantly, new solutions are transforming the impact collaboration has on organizations across the globe. Doctors in Utrecht, The Netherlands, performed and broadcast to medical students all around the globe, the world’s first 3-Dimensional surgery, changing the game relative to medical education and the delivery of better outcomes for patients.
After a transformative 2015, Polycom envisions these major themes for 2016:
1. The Millennial Generation is shaping the Workplace of the Future
The question of which generation will have the largest impact on the Workplace of the Future has been answered. In 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force and they are the most active and engaged through social networks, using technology more frequently than any other generation to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues. They are natural collaborators and gravitate to video for both communication and learning. In a recent study commissioned by Polycom, 78 percent of millennials indicated access to the technology they preferred to use makes them more productive at work. What they experience in their personal lives, they expect in the workplace. We expect millennials will have a greater impact on shaping the workplace in 2016, and we believe companies who do not offer a stimulating work experience with a rich set of collaboration tools will be in danger of losing top talent. We believe the Workplace of the Future is one that can successfully mesh together the millennial generation with the existing workforce.
2. Mobility is now about the collaboration of devices
The Workplace of the Future is not a location and work is now anywhere you are, not a place you go. It is centered on being able to perform work tasks from any location, at any time, from any device, with the same level of productivity as can be achieved in the office. A recent Polycom-commissioned study showed 90 percent of businesses in the U.S. are offering or expanding remote working options and this is dramatically changing how we work. Collaboration in the age of mobility reaches beyond the specific applications a device provides, and is more about seamless integration across different devices and locations. In 2016, we expect there will be an increased focus on how devices interact with each other to deliver an integrated collaboration experience. The ability to connect consistently and easily across mobile devices, personal systems and group collaboration systems with the same voice, content and video experiences will ensure productivity for the mobile workforce. In the next year we also expect to see more workers using their mobile devices as personal “remotes” and to connect, control and interact with enterprise collaboration solution, from anywhere.
3. Web technologies are maturing but interoperability remains a challenge
Leveraging the web browser to access collaboration has been an objective for the industry and WebRTC is emerging as a viable technical option. Ira Weinstein, senior analyst of Wainhouse Research, predicts that over the next 3 – 5 years, as more browsers become WebRTC friendly, enterprises will embrace the technology. Initially this approach will simplify video interactions with customers, but over time extend to business collaboration as well. WebRTC enables browser-to-browser video connections without the need to install plug-ins or additional technology. However, despite considerable interest we expect it will be some time before WebRTC sees widespread adoption. This is due to lack of standardization, inconsistent browser support, and minimal interoperability between WebRTC applications and established enterprise collaboration solutions. In a recent survey conducted by Virgin Media Business, just 27 percent of respondents acknowledge web conferencing as the most effective tool for remote collaboration. Instead, we expect WebRTC will play an important role in familiarizing more end users with video communications, but continue to fall short of the audio, content-sharing and video quality found in enterprise-grade visual collaboration systems. For WebRTC to reach the mainstream, interoperability with a broader spectrum of enterprise environments will be critical. Until then, we expect customers will use WebRTC alongside a host of other technologies to enable collaboration.
4. Workspaces are morphing to support new work styles
Where you work is now wherever you are and this is driving an important shift in enterprise facilities planning and IT. Visual collaboration is no longer confined to the conference room and the desk, but is extending throughout the enterprise and into virtual spaces outside the office. Audio, content sharing and video communications are no longer just conference room technologies, but now permeate every workspace inside and out of the office. In 2016, we believe the industry will place a renewed focus on enabling a wide range of workspaces, expanding huddle/smaller rooms and demonstrate an increasing desire for center-of-the-room collaboration solutions. Wainhouse Research estimates there to be 30-50 million huddle rooms around the world, the vast majority of which are lacking support for collaboration. While traditional conference rooms are still valuable for presentations, we believe they will be increasingly augmented by spaces designed to support rich collaboration and new working styles in virtual rooms, huddle rooms and open spaces. We expect this will place a much greater emphasis on tapping into the power of face to face collaboration, whether people are in the same room or spread around the world. Innovative new solutions will enable any space to support these interactions and the traditional conference room as we know it today will become more multi-functional and far easier to use.
5. The value of the cloud will reach far beyond collaboration connectivity
The cloud holds unique promise in delivering collaboration services. It is fundamentally changing how enterprises procure and consume services and is driving new usage models. In the past many small businesses viewed collaboration solutions as an unattainable luxury beyond their limited IT teams and budget. Cloud opens up opportunities for small businesses to operate on an equal footing to their larger competitors by scaling through easier access to collaboration services. However, what we anticipate will really open doors in 2016 are emerging over-the-top collaboration solutions that are expected to enhance productivity and interactivity for all businesses. Services such as analytics, diagnostics, translation and natural language processing will play a huge role in helping to advance user experience and arm customers with critical usage data and tools for more effective operations.
6. Collective memory helps conquer time zones
In 2015, Polycom predicted greater enterprise globalization would ultimately create a higher demand for more tools that enable visual collaboration. No matter how effective the communications network, it can’t mitigate the time zone challenges inherent in a global workforce. As the rapid expansion of globalization continues, we believe 2016 will be the year of video content capture. We expect a greater number of companies will adopt a “follow the sun” strategy which will place greater emphasis on collective memory – the ability to capture, persist and share relevant key information across the enterprise. We anticipate that will in turn drive adoption of solutions that allow users to seamlessly and simply capture video, audio and content collaboration, and support playback and analysis from any location at any time. We believe companies that focus on leveraging collective memory will be better able to preserve key intellectual property and maximize productivity, creativity and learning.
7. What you see is what we all see
Collaboration across locations and devices has rapidly improved thanks in large part to high-quality audio, content sharing and video solutions available in the market today. But we believe what will drive productivity in 2016, and ultimately provide a more powerful experience, are solutions that allow users to share high quality content automatically, simply and intuitively. Sharing presentations, documents and work products in real time is fundamental to collaboration and in the past it has been a challenge to do this consistently and reliably. New technologies will allow users to be confident that the content they see is being displayed accurately and clearly to their coworkers. Since collaboration often centers on more than one document, sharing multiple streams of multimedia, interactive content will become as easy or easier than plugging in a VGA cable today. Annotation, updating, recording and sharing of content will all be part of this rich experience.
In the last twelve months, the market has seen changes that have made an incredible impact on the way corporate decisions are made. Previously, many enterprises looked at collaboration tools as “nice-to-have” but not integral to daily operations. Today, we are crossing the chasm and we believe collaboration has become mission critical. Millennials are now the largest component of the workforce and have brought their collaboration tools and behaviors with them. Enterprises are making collaboration a strategic initiative by refactoring workspaces beyond traditional conference rooms and rapidly expanding mobility solutions to allow work to happen wherever people are and whenever they prefer. Cloud is making access to collaboration services ubiquitous and leveling the playing field for enterprises of all sizes. New solutions will enable new spaces, mobile work patterns and center of the room, rich, multimedia collaboration. In 2016, we believe we will see the emergence of this Workplace of the Future, where collaboration is part of the fabric of business – available in any workspace, integrated with any task or workflow and empowering the end user with simple and delightful user experience.
Polycom helps organizations unleash the power of human collaboration. More than 415,000 companies and institutions worldwide defy distance with secure video, voice and content solutions from Polycom to increase productivity, speed time to market, provide better customer service, expand education and save lives. Polycom and its global partner ecosystem provide flexible collaboration solutions for any environment that deliver the best user experience, the broadest multi-vendor interoperability and unmatched investment protection. Visit www.polycom.com or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to learn more.
This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding future events, including statements regarding our technology predictions for 2016. These forward-looking statements are identified by terminology such as “anticipate”, “may”, “believe”, “expect”, “will” and other similar statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially, including the advancement and adoption of certain technologies and tools in the collaboration space, adoption of different types of collaboration spaces, the future markets in which we will participate and the future solutions that we will offer. Many of these risks and uncertainties are discussed in the Company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended September 30, 2015, and in other reports filed by Polycom with the SEC. Polycom disclaims any intent or obligations to update these forward-looking statements.
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