Summer is the time of heatwaves, vacations and tradeshows. The latter two left me with a dearth of material for the summer 2023 issue’s Last Word column, but David Danto, Collaboration Today and Tomorrow editor, came to the rescue by posing the following question on LinkedIn: “What do you think is the most important emerging technology in our industry today?”
At the time of this writing, there were 30 responses. I took the time to copy down every comment and then looked for trends within them. What follows is a summary with some chosen specific remarks, as well as my observations.
(Editor’s note: the phenomenon of this question on LinkedIn receiving ~20K impressions in three days will be further explored by Nancy Blanchard in a subsequent article.)
Trends in AI
Of likely no surprise to most people, AI was the overwhelmingly popular response. While meeting metrics and real-time tracking of participants were common threads, there were also some unique thoughts on its use.
Izzi Demara, marketing manager, RoomReady
“For UC solutions where there are several possible combinations of hardware and software, an AI program that incorporates fuzzy logic could lead to engineers making faster decisions on systems designs. It not only streamlines the process but can help mitigate risks of system errors.
From an operations standpoint, AI can’t replace a person installing a solution, it can’t use power tools or lift displays. But it could help problem solve for systems errors and ultimately speed up the process.”
Trent Johnsen, CEO, Liveweb
“The important emerging technology is seamless multichannel communication integrated directly into applications and the tech stack…forms, stand-alone (siloed) chatbots and phone numbers are anachronisms. AI will ultimately add value with functionality like intelligent agents screening, routing and connecting us like talented executive assistants did in the nineties.”
Interoperability was another highly ranked answer, and interestingly it was across the entire AV stack, not just conferencing. User experience also tied in tightly to this topic.
Justin Gurevitch, IT infrastructure engineer, enGen
“I would say the most ‘important’ emerging technology in our industry is the maturing of AVoIP and the potential for IPMX to be widely adopted by manufactures as the open standard for pro AV, much like SMPTE is for broadcast. The current lack of interoperability between AVoIP platforms is a problem for end users who may find themselves locked into AV solutions that don’t make sense for them anymore.”
Alex Bisset, strategic account manager, HP
“It shouldn’t matter whether you are a Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Google, Snap, Meta, etc user — we should be able to just reach each other without fear of lack of interoperability and without a deprecated user experience.
The first to figure this out in a way that requires absolutely NO user intervention because it just works mass user universal adoption.”
Security too, emerged as a solid performer and often overlapped into AI.
Bob Romano, CEO, Intelligent-Data
“Identity verification is critical and AI will enhance as well as challenge Cyber threats. It’s now being used as an offensive detection via ‘ good ‘bots’ to fight existing bad actors use of the same.”
Simon Elkin, strategic enterprise account executive, Talkdesk
“I would say that integrated-voice biometric identity is one of the most important emerging technologies in our industry. Deception, theft, privacy breaches, fraud and bad actors continue to win at a torrent pace, victimizing many and eroding consumer confidence one incident at a time.”
Of special note in security were two callouts of blockchain. Neither was related to cryptocurrency, but rather related to verification.
Michael Warner, Sr. sales engineer, LG
“I think blockchain technology has a lot of potential. It’s a new and important technology that can keep records safe, open, and spread out among lots of computers. This means we don’t need middlemen and we can trust transactions more. It could change how we manage supply chains, handle money and even deal with healthcare. Using blockchain could make things more trustworthy, trackable and efficient.”
Shivraj Patil, founder, Bits In Bytes
“Blockchain to enable banking and finance transactions making them authentic and secured way to claim the ownerships of real estate and digital/non-digital assets…”
AR and VR
Mixed/augmented/virtual reality also got some attention in emerging technology.
Michael Beaudoin, vice president, Yorktel
“I believe that extended reality (XR i.e. encompassing AR, MR, and VR) is one of the most significant emerging technologies in the collaboration, AV and unified communications industry today. While AI is rightfully gaining attention, it’s crucial not to overlook the profound long-term impact XR can have on areas such as interoperability, meeting equity, and events.
Our global marketing team’s monthly VR team-building exercises haven’t necessarily boosted productivity compared to traditional video conferencing platforms; but, they’ve significantly enhanced our sense of connection and camaraderie, which are vital for successful collaboration. Nothing beats an in-person handshake, but there’s something to be said about a digital high-five.”
Automation also crossed paths with multiple other topics.
Brad Orme, senior federal account manager at Haivision
“I see software platforms that enable the deployment of sophisticated AV solutions with minimal expertise required to setup/configure driving massive change. We are seeing audio systems that tune themselves. Control systems with no programming required that actually work. This will likely continue the trend of commoditizing pro AV and further minimizing the need for highly experienced and skilled teams to install.”
One post summarized the continued importance of something we likely take for granted.
Paul Konikowski, security engineer, Regional Finance
“I will switch out emerging for adapting and say noise cancellation. With all of the digital communications we do, thank goodness we can hear each other better now, and with transcripts and captions it’s a completely different experience than it was just a few years ago.”
Looking Beyond the Future
A few people also called out the importance of the unknown, which may be the most future-looking choice of all.
Brian Gorski, owner, GorskiVision
“The most important one isn’t the one that’s emerging. It’s the one that will emerge next. Indoor GPS (IPS), hidden television, projected 3D fires, are all available now (I sell all of these things); but, they’re not even what’s emerging. In fact, they’ve been around for a while now. So what’s most important? Whatever comes next that will be even more important to the general public.”
Dominic Kent, freelance content strategist and Copywriter for Unified Comms and Contact Center
“The most important emerging technology is whatever the heck drives adoption of all the emerging technologies we already have. Customers are yet to fully rollout web chat in contact centers. We’re nearly into the “next phase” of generative AI but meeting recaps haven’t been released, yet alone been adopted.”
Thank you to everyone who commented for this article, and my apologies to those we couldn’t fit into this limited space. I encourage readers to check out the original thread on David Danto’s LinkedIn page for even more expert commentary.
Mark Okern is Enterprise SE at Splunk.
Commercial Integrator has teamed up with the IMCCA, the New York-based non-profit industry association for unified communication and workplace collaboration, to produce a quarterly supplement, titled Collaboration Today and Tomorrow, that focuses on all things collaboration from multiple perspectives.
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