Atlassian is adding one video group chats to its HipChat collaboration platform — a move that could make it easier for geographically dispersed workers to see more of each other. 

HipChat already had video on a one-to-one scale. But today's upgrade will facilitate group video conferences with as many as 10 people. 

Video trumps audio conferencing because co-workers can see expressions and body language. "Video is next frontier," said Steve Goldsmith, general manager for HipChat. "It will drive adoption of platforms that much more."

HipChat contends that audio conference calls do little to boost productivity and lead to regular roadblocks — and employee disengagement. Company officials cited an InterCall study that found that more than a quarter (27 percent) of Americans have fallen asleep on a conference call. 

From Chat to Video

Video has taken root in the workplace. Microsoft last month previewed Microsoft Stream, its new video service for business, which it claims "democratizes access to and discovery of video at work." HipChat competitor Slack integrates with video app platforms.

hipchat group video

HipChat officials said the ease of use for their new video platform is a differentiator. It provides instantaneous face-to-face collaboration in the digital workplace. The new platform is for HipChat Plus users at no extra cost. 

It's a smooth, one-click transition, Goldsmith said, from chat room to video conference. Officials said hardware providers and cloud tools leave employees wasting time sharing meeting URLs, searching pin codes, installing or updating meeting software and re-entering their names and roles into a tool outside of their team chat room.  

WebRTC Tech

Other highlights include:

  1. People can share a live view of any document or browser window on their desktop, across all our desktop and web clients. "No more awkward pauses as cords and laptops are passed around to share what you’ve been working on," officials said. 
  2. For those who are camera shy, they can disable their own camera or mute themselves
  3. HipChat video is powered by WebRTC technology with servers throughout the globe
  4. Integrates screen-sharing, group-message and file-sharing in one environment
  5. HipChat group video is based on the JitSi open-source platform; updates to the platform will be shared throughout the open-source community

"There are plenty of solutions out there but they're not exactly one-click kind of easy," Goldsmith told CMSWire. "If you're running HipChat and you're logged correctly, everything works. One click and done. That's the user experience we're after. Enterprises want an enterprise video solution that fits into their existing infrastructure, and they want the ability to go face-to-face. They want to mirror those in-office, spontaneous conversations that you would have in a workplace."

It includes speaker detection to get the right person on the big screen talking while thumb-nailing everyone else. 

HipChat officials did not include a mobile component for its group video at this time. It expects to later. It found most people would rather turn to video through desktops.

Ajay Kaul, managing partner of Folsom, Calif.-based AgreeYa, a global provider of software and technology solutions and services, does think mobile can work now.

"Organizations can also encourage meeting attendees to utilize mobile-video tools, as opposed to videoconferences which often require dedicated facilities, since mobile video tools allow people to attend meetings regardless of their current location," Kaul wrote in a CMSWire article. "Not only is it easy, but mobile video is a great way to bring key experts into conversations when needed."

Title image by Alexandru Zdrobău