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Virtual collaboration – A new era for video conferencing

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Virtual collaboration - a new era for video conferencing
Virtual collaboration – a new era for video conferencing.

Video conferencing (VC) is hardly new. Most of today’s boardrooms are equipped with VC facilities, and many office workers have some sort of video communication tool on their laptops or computers. However, in a world that is becoming increasingly mobile, traditional VC is simply not cutting it anymore.

Today’s workforce is a mobile one, and employees are encouraged to work from home or elsewhere to save on travel time and office space. Customers, too, demand the ability to interact with organisations while on the move. With more than half of the world’s internet traffic coming from mobile phones, it’s easy to spot the trend towards mobile being the preferred method of interaction.

 An evolution
With mobility in mind, many organisations have adopted mobile VC platforms, as well as Instant Messaging (IM) platforms for business use, either in conjunction with existing VC tools, or as a replacement. These tools make collaboration on the move easier, with the ability to share files and otherwise communicate using text, voice and video.

However, most commercially available IM platforms are not fully secure and should be entertained for business use with caution. Apart from the consideration of who can access a user’s backend data for research or marketing purposes, there is also the risk of exchanging valuable company information over an unregulated environment. Using tools like WhatsApp for business purposes may solve short-term requirements, but puts the company at risk of information leaks and intrusion.

VC applications and tools available for business today are certainly far safer than IM, and there are many on the market that offer bolstered security benefits, reducing the risk of breach. However, these tools, like IM, require the download of a plugin, application or specific software. And all users need to have this installed in order for a successful video conference to be carried out, which isn’t always possible.

Spurred by the increase in workforce mobility, many organisations have adopted, or are adopting, a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. This means that users within an organisation will likely have a range of different devices which they use to access the corporate network and conduct their work. Beyond the number of devices within an organisation, businesses are unable to control the host of different devices with which their customers and suppliers interact with them. Various devices in various different stages of technological evolution means that a VC plugin, application or software cannot always be supported across the board.

This poses a challenge because all parties need to be on the same prescribed VC platform to effectively communicate. The same is true for IM – communication is only possible on WhatsApp if both users have the application installed on their device.

App-less, browser-based virtual collaboration
Organisations are beginning to realise the benefit in virtual collaboration tools that are purely browser-based. Tools such as Web Real-Time Communication (Web RTC) allow users to communicate securely using only their browser, regardless of the device, place or time. People can effectively share files, conduct video conferencing, send texts and even have voice calls with little more than a reliable internet connection and a browser-enabled device – any browser and any device.

Typical VC issues such as unsupported hardware, inability to download an application, poor battery life and dialling into remote locations can effectively become thing of the past, as Web RTC easily circumvents these problems.

In a world where communication and collaboration cannot be impeded by the vast array of devices and operating systems in play, or by distance and time difference, organisations simply cannot afford not to use tools that make this process as simple and streamlined as possible.

 By Amritesh Anand – Practice Lead – Unified Communication at In2IT Technologies

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