Jan. 25, 2022 - With the beginning of the New Year, I am reminded of our world's incredible transformation through two years of pandemic. The borders between where we work and learn have changed dramatically, blurring in some cases, and all-but-disappearing in others.
Working in the office is no longer the default; today we work from home, during our commute, while traveling and wherever we can. Schools and universities now teach far beyond the physical classroom, offering hybrid and blended learning settings to students at home, on campus or any other location where they have internet access.
That means collaborative and inclusive online environments are now the norm as we've adapted to a new physi-digi (physical-digital) world. With the accompanying rapid advances in technology these changes are unstoppable. But where is it all going?
At Kramer, we've identified four megatrends related to this transformation that we believe will impact dramatically all of us in 2022 at work, school and across our communities.
1. An increasingly hybrid world
Today, we are all part of ‘Gen H,' the Hybrid Generation. We've become accustomed to switching back and forth between working in offices or learning in classrooms and doing so from home. Offsite is the new onsite. What brought us here is the combination of rapid digital innovation and the need for flexible, faster and safer ways to communicate, collaborate, work and learn during the pandemic.
The speed at which we've integrated and adapted to our new hybrid environments is astounding. Yet, challenges remain. How can companies help employees stay focused in hybrid meetings? Will schoolteachers and university professors be able to focus on teaching without dealing with technical issues?
The Pro AV industry had already developed hybrid technologies years before the pandemic arrived, but the need for intuitive and more seamless hybrid solutions persists. As such, it is our responsibility to continue innovating for Gen H by listening to users' challenges, insights and suggestions.
Bill Gates recently shared his thoughts on our new hybrid world:
“The pandemic has revolutionized how companies think about productivity and presence in the workplace. The boundaries between once-discrete areas of work — brainstorming, team meetings, casual conversations in the hallway — are collapsing."
I couldn't agree more, but we still have work to do. How can we ensure that hybrid meeting attendees and students learning online feel included? That their voices are heard, and faces seen, no matter where they are?
Born of insight and propelled by necessity, in many ways our hybrid world is only just getting started.
2. Always-On collaboration
Collaboration is a fundamental part of our work and school lives. ‘Always-on' means that technologies supporting our collaborations must always and immediately be available whenever we need them.
But more than simply available, communicating and collaborating should be intuitive and easy, supported anytime, anywhere, via any device.
While the solutions exist, questions remain in terms of the user experience. Can teachers use existing in-room screens, whiteboards and in-class AV peripherals to create inviting learning experiences for students in the classroom and at home? If an organization holds dozens or thousands of meetings a day, how can the IT department manage them easily and securely?
In an era when we constantly stream and consume content in our professional and personal lives, we now expect technologies supporting these advances to always work and be available whenever we need them. The need for always-on collaboration at work and school in 2022 will increase the need for effective and secure solutions.
3. Seamless technology
Challenges remain for seamless integration between platforms, preventing connection ‘hiccups,' and having all technologies work well together. We expect technology to work without a glitch. But have you ever tried talking on Zoom or Teams, without realizing you were on mute? I expect we've all done it. This is a perfect example of the challenges we regularly face.
For many of us, hybrid and remote interactions make up most of our daily communication, yet somehow, they still don't feel natural. We spend too much time and energy operating helpful communication solutions, rather than simply engaging and collaborating with one another. This makes us frustrated and tired.
Meeting rooms should offer complete, holistic approaches for starting, managing, and finalizing meetings. They should be seamless. The standard should be ‘zero-click' meetings, and I am sure that we will be there soon.
It's about much more than automation. I‘m talking about AI-based solutions that help you prepare, execute and summarize meetings with your team. A seamless experience without the need for advanced training, complex company policies or troubleshooting audio and video malfunctions.
I know, for example, that many educators are begging for better and more natural solutions for teaching a mix of in-class and remote students. Hybrid classrooms should allow teachers to show a mechanical model or math formula remotely on the whiteboard with the same ease and effectiveness as if the teacher and students were all together in the same room. Every teacher (and student) should have a seamless experience that facilitates engagement and learning wherever they are.
4. Mission-critical communication
We're currently seeing a surge in demand for mission-critical communication.
These days, everything is connected, monitored and centrally managed. And with the rise of Industry 4.0, it's expected there will be 30 billion IOT-connected devices by 2025. The ability to effectively analyze and forecast machine performance, infrastructure needs, healthcare services, transportation and manufacturing demands will be extremely dependent on our ability to control and monitor these operations.
Our need to control solutions that are up and running 24/7/365 will give rise to more command and control centers, all requiring mission-critical communication.
In such control centers, operators and managers cannot afford any delay or loss of information when handling any type of content or data. In many cases, the consequences could be tragic.
The Pro AV industry will continue focusing on secure AVoIP and cloud-based solutions. The ability of these technologies to help organizations rapidly scale, safeguard and deliver mission-critical communication to any endpoint is a significant advantage.
What does this all mean going forward?
While those four trends are by far the biggest AV megatrends of 2022, I believe they will ultimately have a more significant impact in the coming years.
Public health concerns will continue affecting education, private enterprises, non-profit organizations and governments for the foreseeable future. Even more significant is the cultural shift already underway. Employers now understand that many employees prefer hybrid work models, and that some workers would even consider leaving their job if their employer did not have hybrid solutions in place.
By Ornit Sade-Benkin, VP Marketing