What if we did not have video communications over the past two years? Can you imagine just doing phone calls, conference calls, not seeing people, living in a world of near if not total isolation?
Luckily, we were able to have face-to-face connections when people couldn’t be in-person to work, learn, socialize, and celebrate. We were able to see people smile, shake their heads, nod … these non-verbal cues being paramount to every communication.
“Video is the new voice” is now a phrase universally understood by young and old around the planet. Video has certainly changed things. Remote work is now just work. Distance education is more available and reliable. No one bats an eye at getting a Zoom birthday invite. Perhaps an even more remarkable change is how video and other cloud services have helped ignite a higher standard of innovation across every industry.
So what’s next?
The easy answer: video will continue to reshape the workforce and experiences across every sector, be it retail, financial services, healthcare, education, insurance, emergency services … every industry will be influenced by it. But this newly minted video era will also usher out old notions of what business, education, and society can look like and create new possibilities, both personally and professionally.
Here are a few big ideas on our radar for 2022 and beyond!
The ‘total experience’ imperative
How customers experience your brand has always been important, but amid “The Great Resignation,” those experiences are even more critical internally. Organizations must take a good hard look at combined customer and employee experiences and the satisfaction their business provides to people.
Experience is all about the ability for a customer to be able to happily and easily transact business, and for an employee, it’s productive and meaningful work. Satisfaction is different; it is how they feel about their experience. Will they be a reference? Will they tell people about your brand or refer others to be an employee in their company?
Customer satisfaction has always been top of mind for business leaders, and as we embrace new ways of working, employee satisfaction is a peer and crucial going forward. We expect to see organizations working to provide this total experience through a strategic blend of in-person and virtual connections.
Elevating the customer experience
A hyper-competitive landscape means today’s consumers have more choices than ever and thus demand more engaging and superior experiences. Their elevated expectations for proactive services, personalized interactions, and connected experiences — across physical and virtual channels — put pressure on companies to meet those expectations.
So how do you provide a better customer experience than your competitors? By meeting your customers where they are and engaging them in the ways they want. Start by layering video into your engagement and outreach methods, creating a new “v” version of everything:
- V-commerce will explode as retailers invest in video to augment the digital shopping experience, offer new services to customers, and elevate brand loyalty.
- V-contact centers will help enterprises consolidate customer interactions and offer expert support in a more empathetic way.
- V-messaging to support your customers through video, voice, text, chat — whatever mode they prefer.
Elevating the employee experience
The fallout from “The Great Resignation” will continue as employees continue to recognize what they really enjoy about their role or company and evaluate both their professional and individual purposes. Employees are giving more thought to the consequences of their work — evaluating their organization’s mission and how its services affect people or the planet.
Business leaders must reimagine in-office working environments with a focus on employee happiness, inclusivity, equality, collaboration, productivity, and yes, purpose. Those who do not get value or inspiration out of their corporate environment can easily find their preferred work environment — and purpose — elsewhere. You might plan now what kinds of “employee experience” answers you can give when interviewing candidates, as that will be the dividing line between recruiting and retaining the best talent and settling for warm bodies.
A few other things we expect to see a lot of in 2022 around the employee experience:
- Designing purposeful workspaces: Employees going into the office must have a reason to commute in as well as the right space and tools they need when they get there. Remember, we need a space where we can do work, but the office is not the only place work can happen. Millions of knowledge workers in every industry around the world have shown that they can be even more productive working from anywhere, not just from home.
- Level the hybrid playing field: When on-site teams video in remote team members, technology like Smart Gallery will create more equitable — and more inclusive — meetings. Remote participants can see everyone’s facial expressions and body language, and follow the overall conversation better. When coupled with real-time language translation and transcription, tools like Smart Gallery will be a serious catalyst for promoting inclusivity and equality.
- Application interoperability: Teams are more efficient when they can use their preferred tools whenever they need them. Even better? When these tools seamlessly work together. A few examples of flexible solutions you can deploy:
Mass reinvention across industries
Businesses will reinvent themselves because 1) they have to and 2) because they can do it quickly. Entire industries, including primary and secondary healthcare, real estate, financial services, and retail, are rethinking how they interact with customers because there are new expectations to see and experience things.
This floodgate of change and innovation has been opened partly by digital transformation’s newfound agility. Before, large-scale transformation projects could take years. But those days are over, largely due to rapid deployment speeds and a collective higher technology literacy within the workforce.
Migrating your cloud phone system doesn’t take three months. Migrating an internal messaging platform can be done over the weekend. The digital transformation — better yet, the digital disruption — race is on.
This is also in part because the barrier to entry for digital service development is much lower. Cloud service companies like Zoom are arming developers with the tools and resources they need to flexibly build amazing new services. We are already seeing organizations increasingly leverage our Meeting SDKs and Video SDKs to enhance, extend, and tailor their digital applications to meet the evolving needs of their customers.
‘The Great Upskilling’
The future of work is not limited to what work looks like, but how work is done and — more importantly — how we collaborate. As humans, we communicate in many ways — the written word, verbal and nonverbal communication, and more. Finding ways for technology to mimic these forms of communication will help employees replicate the experience of being in the office with colleagues, only better.
Whether through new solutions or new applications of existing tools, technology can help keep this dynamic and rapidly evolving world of work as collaborative and inclusive as possible. The entire workforce will require training on how to incorporate these tools in ways that increase collaboration and keep teams efficient — regardless of employees’ location.
‘The Great Video Evaluation’
As the pandemic swept the world, video solutions were adopted practically overnight to keep up business, education, government, and face-to-face communication. Now almost two years in, organizations will evaluate whether that provider is right for their evolving needs.
Your video communications platform is needed now more than ever, as it will be core to:
- Safe return-to-office plans
- “Smartening” your workspaces
- Ensuring the office is collaborative for distributed teams
- Elevating the employee experience and satisfaction
- Making real-time collaboration and communications productive and seamless
Communication innovation doesn’t end with video, mind you. If a platform-wide vision is not part of the roadmap, it might be time to reconsider your options and evaluate your alternatives.
Read about all the communication innovations Zoom has been releasing since well before the pandemic.
The continued CIO evolution
Technology literacy in the workforce definitely has been on the rise over the past few years, with the pandemic accelerating this concept as people learned how to navigate software and hardware solutions without the help of on-site IT.
Now, CIOs can benefit from the fact that corporate-wide technology adoption has become easier and employees have become incredibly productive. The challenge, however, is that employees have set the bar higher. Any new CIO initiative will be met with new scrutiny, must meet and exceed high expectations, and, again, prioritize employee satisfaction at its core.
A few other things we’re keeping an eye on in the new year:
- Look for a sea of new personal technology: The rapid acceleration of personal technology continues to extend to the corporate world. The further we get away from our desktops, the more flexibility we need in our solutions. The smartphone and tablet are certifiable collaboration tools already but think about the rise of wearables (Google Glass, anyone?) — technology will continue to be embedded into more devices.
- Real-time meeting translation: Transcription and translation will take firm hold on modern-day collaboration, with geographical boundaries taking a backseat only to time zone differences. As the world globalizes, real-time meeting translation will be critical to equality, inclusivity, and enhanced collaboration.
- The scramble to reach customers: With devices like Amazon Fire TV, you can watch TV, stream movies, shop online, and Zoom with family, friends, and colleagues while you do so. Even B2B organizations will be competing to deliver new ways to reach audiences in their homes, with smart, multi-purpose devices playing a pivotal role in customer engagement.
- Interoperability and the “VBX”: With video services continuing toward interoperability, video will become more like email, where recipients won’t know which service is in use. This expanded network of ubiquitous video communication will transform the standard private branch exchange (PBX) into the much more modern video branch exchange (VBX).
Special thanks to my Office of the CIO colleagues — CIO Advisor Magnus Falk and Global Deputy CIO Gary Sorrentino — for their invaluable contributions to this post. Here’s to a safe and innovative new year!
To learn more about our approach to enabling flexible work, visit our hybrid workforce webpage.