The future of work is hybrid, predicts Anand Ramdeo, Tech Category Manager with Staples Professional. Accordingly, businesses and organizations will have to gear up to ensure their teams are prepared to collaborate on the fly. Read on for Ramdeo’s advice for keeping pace with the changes in workplace tech.
Q (Staples Professional): Videoconferencing is now central for everything from training to ideation meetings, client work and beyond. Are there reasons to upgrade equipment that many companies already have?
A (Anand Ramdeo): Yes, there’s a lot of exciting new technology in the videoconferencing space, making collaboration easier within the context of socially distanced offices and remote work. The latest tech includes features like:
Beamforming audio, which ensures premium audio quality by creating beams from the speaker to the receiver.
Speaker recognition, where the camera automatically follows sounds, zooming in on the person talking. Both beamforming audio and speaker recognition are beneficial in conference rooms where people are sitting further apart due to social distancing.
Acoustic fencing, which eliminates background noise by using multiple microphones to create a virtual audio ‘fence’ around the speaker. This is really useful if someone is working from home; no one will hear your dog barking in the other room, or, in an office where you’ve got an air purifier running.
And finally, there are a lot of overall improvements in picture quality, like 4K, which is even better than High Definition, so you can see everyone in a room, even someone distanced in the corner.
Everyone’s relying more on video these days, so it makes sense to invest in videoconferencing equipment that facilitates working from the new office or remotely.
Q: There’s a lot of buzz around Promethean screens. Can you tell us a bit about those?
A: Interactive display panels are a growing category. Promethean interactive displays are very popular in education and they’re making headway into business settings, alongside a similar product, the Samsung Flip digital flipchart.
These digital screens are amazing for collaboration, teamwork and learning. You can jot notes on the panel like on a traditional flipboard and share them as text docs. You can integrate compatible apps and tools and share to your group members’ laptop screens. It’s a seamless way to collaborate. The Samsung Flip comes in both a 55” portable version and a 65” wall-mount version to suit different settings like remote versus in-office work.
Q: What videoconferencing tech trend are you most excited about?
A: In light of hybrid work, I’d say all-in-one systems. Video bars make it easier than ever to get set up for a professional video conference experience, right out of the box. These devices combine camera, speaker and microphone, so you don’t have to worry about a separate webcam or audio setup.
Video bar kits are designed for different room sizes, so you can get the right fit for your home office versus a large conference room where everyone is now extra spaced apart due to social distancing.
With the shift towards remote and hybrid work, older systems — including a laptop’s built-in camera and audio — may not cut it anymore. The latest video bars from Jabra, Poly and Logitech offer outstanding audio with those features we talked about earlier (like AI speaker recognition and background sound blocking), and great 4K resolution images… It really is the next best thing to collaborating in person.
Q: Why is it important for organizations to integrate their hardware with their software?
A: It just makes work and collaboration so much easier. A lot of the newer tech products are Microsoft Teams-certified, which means you can connect to MS Teams automatically, right from your device, including headsets, webcams, speakerphones and monitors. When your hardware and software are automatically and seamlessly integrated, it just makes everything so much smoother.
Q: Do you see the cloud growing in significance in 2022?
A: I think more organizations will be moving away from onsite servers and hardware. Have you ever seen a company server room? They take up so much physical room and resources. But with the cloud, it’s always on, there’s minimal downtime, you can access it from anywhere, and there’s no liability to you. It’s worry-free for organizations and with potentially significant cost savings too.
Q: Finally, what’s one tech trend you see growing in the year ahead?
A: Seems like Artificial Intelligence will continue to be a focus through 2022. We already talked about AI being integrated into various aspects of video conferencing equipment and I think that will continue with other tech product categories as well. One thing is for sure, technology will continue to evolve and that’s kind of exciting.
Want to learn more about the latest in collaborative tech? Talk to a Staples Professional today.