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I’ve argued that video may be supplanting voice as the crucial medium for real-time communications in the enterprise. On one level, I’ll admit, this is kind of an academic question—who decides when something is the “new” something else? But regardless of how we treat the buzzwords, it’s almost certainly true that we’re going to see continual growth in video communications in the enterprise. And that growth is going to have some major real-world—and possibly budget-impacting—implications for IT/communications decision-makers.

The most obvious example is the network. As my colleague Beth Schultz recently reminded me, heavier use of video means more strain on the network, potentially higher cost for links between sites, and continual monitoring and management of bandwidth on those links. Enterprises are increasingly trying to use Internet connections as part of their WAN strategy, whether for remote workers or as part of a larger SD-WAN strategy. But can you really run enterprise-quality video over the Internet? (If that’s a question you’ll need to answer, a good place to start would be Enterprise Connect 2020, where the industry’s leading expert on IP networking and real-time traffic, Terry Slattery of NetCraftsmen, will be speaking on “"Delivering QoS Across Disparate Networks—How We Did It.”)

And the need is not restricted to management of the network. Just as enterprises are demanding more intuitive ways for end users to join video meetings, IT/communications managers should be looking for the same level of control and manageability on the back end of whatever systems they deploy to provide video meetings. (This will be a topic of another EC2020 session.)

And I believe we’ll see deeper impacts from this drive toward making meetings more useful by generating real-time transcriptions, making video more searchable, and encouraging its use as a resource for teams that collaborate on projects.

It’s an impact we’ve seen before. IM entered the enterprise as a bring-your-own app, but as it became a mainstay of daily work routines, it got subsumed into enterprise messaging applications like Microsoft Skype for Business. Part of the driver for that shift was that companies started to realize they were on the hook for employees’ IMs. Specifically, compliance teams began to mandate that IMs be archived, as emails already were, because IMs would be discoverable in lawsuits and regulatory proceedings.

I recently visited the Seattle offices of Panopto, a video recording, streaming, and content management system that started in 2007 in the education vertical as lecture-capture software, and now is finding broader markets for its products and services as video permeates the enterprise. Much of Panopto’s current pitch centers around the usability and productivity aspects of this kind of service—storage, transcription, search.

Panopto and its peers in video content management offer a much more robust level of video content management and storage than the video service providers are likely to offer. I could be wrong, but I don’t think Zoom and its peers particularly want to be in the business of archiving and managing the massive amounts of data that video storage will produce in the years ahead.

And if video truly does become—for lack of a better term—the new voice, then that function of storage, search, and retrieval will become not just business-critical, but also could become non-negotiable, if video files and their transcripts become records that compliance groups mandate the enterprise keep archived. And why wouldn’t this happen? What lawyer wouldn’t subpoena the video of a meeting where a key decision was made that impacted a situation that ended up in court?

This, in turn, suggests that pervasive enterprise video could affect users’ behavior in unexpected ways. People may opt not to use video for meetings they know are likely to be sensitive; or conversely, legal departments may mandate video for such meetings—HR folks might want to get used to being on camera. The problem is, you don’t always know in advance when a meeting is going to be sensitive or the subject of a later dispute.

The evolution of video reinforces the reality that enterprise communications is in the midst of massive change, and change tends to be self-replicating. That’s challenging for IT decision-makers, but responding to these challenges is what IT does.

We at Enterprise Connect are here to help you do your job as it evolves. Enterprise Connect 2020 takes place March 30-April 2 in Orlando, Fla., and video-related topics are just a portion of what we have on the program. I hope we’ll see you next spring in sunny Florida!

Eric Krapf
GM & Program Co-Chair Enterprise Connect & WorkSpace Connect
Publisher, No Jitter

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