The video conference of the future will be better than being there.
That’s the “North Star” message behind video conferencing vendor BlueJeans’ three-stop road trip from Georgia to California that kicks off this week. Under the banner Think Forward, BlueJeans’ city tour will lay out the company’s vision for the future of its industry and the digital workplace in a series of lectures and panel discussions.
It’s an old-school, press-the-flesh approach to discussing digital communication in the 21st century–perhaps evidence that online webinars and live streams aren’t yet as effective networking opportunities as the time-honored tradition of wine and guest speakers–but BlueJeans has enlisted some big-name thinkers to lend credence to its message, headlined by world-renowned physicist and author Brian Greene.
So, what is the BlueJeans vision of the future, and how can video conferencing become better than an in-room meeting?
Video Conferencing as a Practical Business Tool
BlueJeans has been with us for almost a decade now and has become one of the leading lights among the software/cloud-computing generation of video conferencing vendors. Like rival Zoom, to whom we have often compared BlueJeans, the focus is on accessible, consumer-friendly video calling at an affordable price. The app can be downloaded and launched in minutes, is compatible with most commercial webcams, and operates on a Facebook-like principal of invitation and dissemination that makes connecting with colleagues, friends, and clients simple.
The age of digital communication won’t lead to the demise of the office as we know it, but it will bring about a new era of greater flexibility and ease in remote collaboration.
The bottom line for vendors such as BlueJeans is that digital communications must be practical. It’s about making it easier to do your job and run your business. While Professor Greene may speak at Think Forward about complex ideas, such as quantum mechanics and its importance to the digital generation, we’re hoping–and expecting–that his final emphasis will be on how complex ideas can make life in the office more simple.
According to Think Forward panelist, and BlueJeans’ own Senior Vice-President of Product and Solution Marketing, John Knightly, the age of digital communication won’t lead to the demise of the office as we know it, but it will bring about a new era of greater flexibility and ease in remote collaboration.
How Working Is Changing
Knightly spoke to VC Daily immediately prior to joining the Think Forward tour through Atlanta, Dallas, and San Francisco. While he wouldn’t divulge everything the BlueJeans team and their panel of experts will present on the tour, he did say there would be intense discussion of one of the digital age’s most controversial subjects–the use of artificial intelligence.
“There has been a lot of angst and hand-wringing in the general media about the potential for AI to decimate people’s jobs,” Knightly said. “We do see shifts coming, but we also see a future full of promise, as machines free people from the routine, to do what we do well–create, invent, design, entertain, and care for one another. Indeed, we see a world where virtual assistants can attend video meetings either as support staff or even as our delegates, to take action items, alert us to critical moments, and launch business processes through other apps or workflows.”
Employers who offer open, flexible work arrangements with mobile and digital tool sets that match Millennial and Gen Z expectations will win the race for top talent.
BlueJeans has already started down the AI road with the recent introduction of Eva, a smart video conferencing assistant that automatically takes, organizes, and disseminates meeting notes.
In addition to more thoughts on the future of AI in communication, Knightly and others will be expanding on facts and ideas such as:
- Video conferencing will become a key tool for the more than 85% of U.S. professionals that communicate often with people in other locations.
- The use of digital meeting platforms such as video will become standard business practice over the next five years.
- The number of Americans who spend at least some time working remotely could hit 60% by the middle of the next decade.
- Most U.S. professionals believe video conferencing removes the need to attend a meeting in person.
- Employers who offer open, flexible work arrangements with mobile and digital tool sets that match Millennial and Gen Z expectations will win the race for top talent.
- Businesses should adopt open digital standards, APIs (Application Programming Interface), and interoperability to help them preserve choice among employees, especially in light of the rise in Bring Your Own Device communications.
We can certainly agree with that last point. The digital workplace is going to continue to evolve for the foreseeable future and keeping your options open as you make the transition will become crucial.
BlueJeans’ City Tour Imagines the Workplace of the Future
What Knightly and his colleagues are offering is a glimpse of a future that is only possible once we consider digital technologies, especially video conferencing, as more than just an improvement on the telephone or email. Video calling is a logical evolution of these technologies, but what is to come will be far more dynamic.
Meeting over video conference can improve on meeting in person because it can better immerse us within the digital world that conveys all the information we need at our fingertips. Making the transition to the digital workplace isn’t so much about devices and software as it is about better linking our people, processes, and products so that we can better serve our clients and customers.
While we’d argue you could better exemplify all this by staging the Think Forward event online, we won’t begrudge BlueJeans an old-fashioned trip across the country to talk about how the most cutting edge technology may make these very kinds of trips, well, unnecessary.