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November 12, 2021

In another edition of ScanSource’s Break I.T. Down podcast, hosts Ian, Phillip, and Kyle dive into a topic near and dear to the heart of ScanSource’s partner base – and anyone else who has been working remotely during COVID! That’s right: It’s The One About Video Conferencing. Video conferencing tools like Cisco Webex have become incredibly topical for everyone who is working from home since the whole world turned upside down in early 2020. With fascinating connections to the cloud, huge security implications, and wild AI advancements, video conferencing is not as simple of a topic as you might think.

“Video conferencing has evolved rapidly,” says host Kyle. “Especially when you consider that only 100 or so years ago, just making voice calls from point to point was a huge technological advancement. This is really the next natural step of that.” The team always looks for an opportunity to geek out over technology and solutions, so this episode has plenty of that when it comes to looking at the light-speed expansion of video conferencing capabilities and features in recent years.

“The amount of pixels on a screen dictates how large the data is, right? So now we’re seeing 8k resolution in video conferencing – those are deep, large images from a storage standpoint,” says Kyle. “So we’re seeing more evolution in terms of bells and whistles, compression of data, and the immersive experience we’re having in video conferencing.” From 4k to 8k and beyond, underlying technology in video conferencing has changed considerably even in just the last few years. So how has video conferencing changed us as a species of workers? “I don’t remember the last time I was on a phone call for work that wasn’t a video call,” says Phillip. “Do you guys still pick up a phone for work, or is it all video?”

 “For work? I’ve not talked to someone not on video in a calendar year,” says Ian. While that may not be the universal experience, the shift in usage of video conferencing has completely changed the way we do work – especially considering the COVID pandemic. “I don’t even push the button to do an audio-only call, which is a big change, because a year ago that felt almost intrusive for me,” says Kyle.

Oddly enough, they also agree that they haven’t adopted face-to-face communication via Facetime or other mechanisms in their personal lives. Ian attributes this to terrible angles common to phone calling (and even laptop camera calls)!

“We talk about how this pandemic forced years’ worth of technological advancement in the space of months,” says Kyle. “Digital whiteboarding, acoustic fencing…these are not new technologies, but the advancements and how its being promoted have all taken off.” Another addition is the AI aspect of video conferencing.

“Now I take a call and it’s showing me Ian’s LinkedIn profile and his fantasy football team on the side of the screen,” says Phillip. From emojis and gestures to reactions that video conferencing is now picking up (Putting hands up to ask questions, for example), facial recognition and other aspects of today’s video conferencing and the immersive experience it offers are a huge shift from where we were even two years ago. In other words: What once felt like “the future” is now very much the experience of today.

“I can build a heck of a relationship with tools like this,” says Phillip. “We’re saving money, time, and having a better experience building relationships.” And with many of us feeling inspired – 18 months into the pandemic – to upgrade our space with lighting, art, or a cool virtual background, we’re making the most of what has been a surreal experience.

“In the future, we’re probably going to see more AI applications built into video conferencing so that there’s a transcribing or other bot presence in the meeting,” says Kyle.

Hurry over to listen to the full episode breaking down the wide world of video conferencing, or click here to subscribe!