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Communication, Collaboration, and the Cloud: Five Tech Trends to Watch for in 2016 (And the impact on AV)

Information and Communication Trends to Look for in 2016

The days of being tied to one office location are long gone. Businesses of all sizes are expanding their networks without having to open new locations, thanks to videoconferencing technology. Enterprise-sized businesses in particular are expanding their reach, with employees able to work from anywhere in the world, often from home. Even small and mid-sized businesses are using the latest collaboration technology to expand their businesses without expanding their costs. However, collaboration is changing. What can we expect for the future of work?

Distributed teams have more ways than ever to communicate and collaborate in real time. Videoconferencing technology has come a long way already and will continue to grow. As with all technology, advances in videoconferencing will follow a few trends during the upcoming years. Here are five you can look forward to this year.

A Better and Bigger Cloud

Businesses and consumers alike use cloud technology on a daily basis for just about everything—from storing photos to storing highly sensitive professional documents. And, as with most things in business, this “mainstreaming” of the cloud means the big fish are looking hard at the little fish. Many mergers and takeovers are happening in the cloud space, which will add up, eventually, to a much-improved cloud as current providers refocus, or bow out altogether in favor of the biggest and best cloud companies. According to a recent informationweek.com article, reporting on new Forrester research, “As cloud computing moved into the mainstream, some smaller cloud providers and wanna-be suppliers were acquired. In May, EMC bought Virtustream; ActiveState sold its PaaS system, Stackato, to HP in July; HP also bought Amazon API look-alike Eucalyptus Systems in September 2014. OpenStack vendor Piston Cloud Computing was acquired by Cisco in January; GoGrid was purchased by Datapipe the same month. The consolidation continues apace, with the table stakes growing each month for what it takes to become a global cloud provider.”

The AV Impact: Without a doubt these big moves will trickle down to AV. Just think about the Cisco acquisition of Acano and what that means to the evolution of collaboration. As cloud becomes more readily accessible and usable by business, it will surely change the way that AV consumers look to leverage the cloud in their system integration deployments.

Fully Integrated Platforms

Most businesses have a whole host of platforms, from cloud-based collaboration software to customer relationship management (CRM) systems. As technology advances, it becomes more compatible with other platforms. In the near future, businesses will benefit from collaboration platforms that merge effortlessly with other software, such as CRM and analytics programs. Full integration like this will lead to improved visibility and productivity.

The AV Impact: User experience is driving business like never before. With the powerful impact of word of mouth on technology adoption, companies are looking for solutions that are fully integrated. We have seen this with the growth of platforms like SalesForce, where instead of having disparate systems being launched from a variety of apps, users will live inside their most critical platforms for everything from CRM to Collaboration. Integrators will need to consider this as they try to develop more simple approaches for businesses to utilize AV without needing to learn an entirely new solution or platform.

More Start-Ups and Better Offerings

As businesses look for ways to cut costs and expand their reach, many more will begin turning to online collaboration software. Currently, a few well-known vendors offer this technology. Cloud technology, however, has made it possible for anyone to offer customized collaboration platforms without the big expense. As this technology continues to grow, expect to see more start-ups offering interesting new features and expanded capabilities.

The AV Impact: Whether its Zoom or Slack, there are an abundance of new cloud and mobile apps popping out of the woodwork that are changing communication and collaboration. Inside of AV environments, these new solutions are being utilized at some level and integration may be a key driver in how users design spaces for collaboration.

Smart Machines Will Change the Workforce

We’ve already seen several impressive changes last year, from drone delivery systems to self-driving cars. Smart machines are set to change the way we live and work forever. While we are used to seeing robotics at work on the factory floor, new technology threatens to usurp even the white-collar worker in the future. According to a recent report from Business Insider, postal workers, bookkeepers, secretaries and other assistants, credit analysts, accountants, telemarketers, and many other jobs face competition from the rise of the smart machine due to their ability to increase productivity and drastically reduce expenses. This year will be a big one for smart machines, as we start to see them implemented more heavily across many, many industries.

The AV Impact: This trend is a bit further off for integrators, but don’t be lulled into ignoring what this will mean for AV. As systems get smarter, the way we can interact and experience AV will continue to change dramatically.

Security Concerns Will Continue to be a Priority

Businesses are switching to cloud-based technology at breakneck speed. Mobility is the biggest advancement in technology yet, giving businesses the ability to grow while cutting costs. However, the increase in cloud technology will lead to an increase in security concerns. In fact, security is likely to become the biggest concern in the information and communications industry.

The more advanced technology becomes, the more advanced security attacks become also. Cloud providers need to up their security game by implementing automated systems, increased encryption, user directory integration with cloud operations, better access control, improved data governance, and network security monitoring to prevent cyber security attacks. 2016 will likely see a lot of new security providers and protocols.

The AV Impact: Security continues to be a huge priority for all businesses. As compliance and secure data are critical to business survival, any system that sees the network will be highly scrutinized. Having said that, AV’s understanding of security is going to need to continue to grow so their important role in communication isn’t diminished, as businesses need to be secure but equally need to communicate with the outside world.

The future of workplace collaboration is promising. From smart machines to fully integrated platforms and increased security, businesses have a lot to look forward to this year. As information and communication technology evolves, we’re sure to see lower costs and more features, and that, of course, means more benefits. VCA is staying on top of all these innovations so that we may offer the latest and best solutions to our clients.