young woman having a video conference call using a laptop on a desk
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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed video conferencing into the spotlight as the preferred communications interface for people to connect and meet. Video conferencing providers rose to the challenge by developing new functionality across their offerings. 

But there is more to it than that. The Aragon Research Globe for Video Conferencing, 2021, report showed that while providers did indeed enhance their offerings, it also created room for new providers to emerge over the past 12 months. The result, the report said, is the video conferencing market has stronger product offerings to select from than ever before.  

"Video conferencing is now the single most important part of a communications and collaboration technology platform," said Aragon CEO and lead analyst Jim Lundy in a statement. "This means that the vendors in this market are feeling significant pressure to enhance and improve their product offerings to keep up with demand and stand out from competitors."    

The growth has also resulted in the development of more effective platforms. Due to the increased pressure to become the strongest video conferencing provider, video conferencing is now more reliable and a seamless, convenient experience. In fact, Aragon believes that video meetings are now 50% more effective as opposed to traditional audio conferences.  

On top of that growth, the video conferencing market is also seeing another key shift, the increased need for intelligent video platforms. There is no doubt that there is a need for more capabilities than standard video conferencing platforms offer. Intelligent video platforms solve this need.

What Is an Intelligent Video Platform?

Intelligent video platforms offer new capabilities including:   

  • Automated note-taking   
  • Real-time translation   
  • Action items   
  • Speaker tracking   
  • Speaker identity   
  • Background noise suppression    

The research also pointed out that video conferencing will see new use cases with the increased capabilities. The example of telehealth, which uses video and conferencing for doctor-to-patient virtual visits, is an example of its growth potential. Telehealth is expected to grow over 20% a year. 

Related Article: Digital Workplace Tech Expanded in the Pandemic. Here's What's Next

Upgrading Traditional Communications 

Intelligent video conferencing is a significant upgrade to traditional communication through online video and audio platforms. In simple words, it is the amalgamation of artificial intelligence with video conferencing technology, said Miranda Yan of Singapore-based VINPit, an online service to look up vehicle identification numbers.

Anyone who has used video conferencing technology for a while now knows how the technology struggles with smoothness and convenience in operation. Jerky videos, unsatisfactory audio quality, poor syncing between audio and video, background noises and other problems not only bother users, they can also make video conferencing a detested way of communication and limit its usage. Intelligent video conferencing, in a way, is a cure to those problems. What role does it have in the digital workplace? 

The digital workplace requires intelligent and efficient communication instruments. The principal role of intelligent video conferencing is to improve the overall user experience and induce as much understanding as possible. 

"Video conferencing technology fueled with AI today has made the most complicated tasks relatively easy for us," Yan said. "It has also solved the main problem of traditional techniques as well. For example, automated note-making, checking internet connections prior, recognizing the speakers, reducing background noise, translating conversations, auto muting other attendees, sending reminders of scheduled meetings and other functionality."

Filling Video Gaps

In fact, AI is being used to cover many of the holes present in video conferencing apps. According to Logan Mallory, vice president at Lehi, Utah-based Motivosity, intelligent video conferencing tools are increasingly incorporating AI to improve the video conferencing experience and address its shortcomings.

That includes features, such as automated transcription and translation, and the ability to translate camera gestures into emojis that the presenter can see. Transcripts can even identify the speaker speaking and provide translations in real time so someone in the meeting who does not speak the language can immediately be aware of the topics being discussed. 

“Automated transcription and translation may increase the shift to video conferencing and facilitate the growth of the entirely digital way of working, as these are pain points for both video conferences and physical face-to-face meetings,” he said.

They are also key features for the digital workplace, where people located across the globe collaborate digitally across multiple languages. Physical location may not be a crucial factor anymore when considering candidates, only time zones. 

Translating camera gestures into emojis allows presenters to more accurately gauge how engaged an audience is, unlike in-person meetings. This will encourage engagement during video meetings and may reduce the need for in-person meetings, bolstering the shift to an entirely digital workplace. 

Related Article: How Unified Communications Is Driving the Digital Workplace

Unified Communications as a Service Vendors Benefit

The search for video intelligence is also pushing the unified communications as a services (UCaaS) market. New data from Synergy Research Group showed that the growth rate of worldwide UCaaS subscribers jumped to 41% in 2020, up from 27% in 2019. According to Synergy, while the market share of leader RingCentral has held steady at around 20%, it is the rapid growth of Microsoft and Zoom that have driven the increased growth rate. Their market shares were almost negligible in 2019, but in 2020 the Microsoft subscriber base quickly grew to more than 1 million. Zoom is about to achieve the same milestone. 

The data also showed that as the market jumped by 41%, Microsoft and Zoom share of that growing market increased by 10 percentage points during 2020. The other leading UCaaS vendors, including 8x8, Mitel and Cisco, all saw strong double-digit subscriber growth in the year but each lost market share as their increase in scale lagged overall market growth. 

“Due to COVID-19, companies of all size have accelerated their digitalization efforts, which has helped to drive more aggressive growth in UCaaS,” said Jeremy Duke, Synergy Research Group’s founder and chief analyst.

“This is not just a short-term boost. And our forecasts show continued rapid expansion in the subscriber base. UCaaS still accounts for less than 5% of on-premises or hosted PBX subscribers, clearly demonstrating the long term growth potential," he said.