The threat of extinction is a great motivator for change. Adapt or die, as they say.
That survival imperative has pushed one Swedish conference call company to change the way it does business after 30 years in the field. Konftel, which has made audio conference call equipment since the late 1980s, recently announced it was going visual with the launch of a range of video conferencing cameras.
Konftel video conferencing may not change your working life or the way your business operates, but the underlying trend the company is following may. Its switch is the latest in several involving some big-name communications specialists to have occurred over the past year. It’s a further sign that video is emerging as the preferred form of professional communication and we think it’s the beginning of the end of the audio-only conference call.
If you’re still communicating with disembodied voices and staring at a mound of black plastic during a group call with your colleagues, collaborators, or customers, it’s time you, too, adapted to the new way of communicating.
Konftel Video Conferencing
Konftel’s switch to video–or expansion to include video, as they’d see it–isn’t surprising when you consider that Konftel is part of the Avaya family, the Santa Clara company that is a leading provider of unified communications with 26 million daily users. Konftel was initially bought to boost Avaya’s audio capabilities, but the workplace world around them has since shifted focus, and it’s time for the Swedes to lean on the video expertise of the American owners.
In April, Konftel launched two new video conferencing cameras that can be paired with their existing speakerphone range. They are:
- Konftel Cam20: Designed for small meetings staged within small spaces, commonly referred to as huddle rooms. This cam is capable of 4K conferencing and features a wide 120-degree field of view that should be enough to take in every member of a call.
- Konftel Cam40: Intended for traditional conference room setups accommodating large groups of people. This cam lacks the broad view or high-end 4K features of the Cam20, but is a full PTZ camera with 12x optical zoom and a visual capacity of 1080p full HD.
The VC Daily team hasn’t had the chance to road test either camera, but as far as video conferencing camera debuts go, that’s the right set of promises to make. It’s a mix of the large and the small, which should give Konftel’s clients the flexibility that is necessary given how diverse the video conferencing market has become.
Huddle Room to the Boardroom
Until recently, video conferencing cameras were essentially split into two categories: personal webcams and boardroom conference cams. Webcams perched above your computer screen and catered for just one or two video callers, while conference cams played to the big tables of the boardroom.
However, the rise of cloud computing and software-based video calling vendors, such as Zoom and Skype for Business (both of which are compatible with Konftel’s offerings) has made the deployment of video across a workplace far easier. Businesses no longer need to install highly complex equipment to run their communications in-house. They need just a camera, a video subscription, and a space.
Couple that accessibility with the increasing popularity of workplace collaboration tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, which tie all communications from text to video into a single app, and suddenly video cameras are needed all over the office.
Importantly for firms like Konftel, easy access to video means there’s little reason why even small businesses would stick to basic audio when the advantages of face-to-face communication are available.
Face-to-Face Is a Superior Conversation
The VC Daily team has previously gone into depth about why video conferencing trumps audio conferencing in the business world–basically we feel video is audio with the upside of human faces–but here are a few of the arguments we think support our position:
- Research has proven it’s easier to build trust face-to-face than over the phone
- Facial and physical gestures play a large role in verbal communication
- People are more attentive in video meetings than in audio-only ones
- Video can use multimedia visual aids
It’s true that video makes greater demands on a company’s data infrastructure than audio-only, but in the U.S. where 75% of students attend schools with high-speed broadband it’s safe to assume the majority of businesses can carry HD video calls. Of course, 4K may be another matter at the moment, but Konftel is still wise to future-proof their Cam20 with the emerging capacity.
Konftel isn’t the only brand to recognize the need to adapt to video. Dolby, famous for its speakers and audio clarity, recently launched a camera of its own, and one of the leaders in high-end video conferencing hardware, Polycom, was this year purchased by former audio-only company Plantronics for $2 billion.
The move to video is clearly on, and if your company isn’t currently conducting its conference calls over a live, face-to-face connection, you need to take a leaf out of the Konftel book and adapt today.