The future of online meetings
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The future of online meetings

23rd October 2019
By Tom Ladle

The imminent implementation of 5G and relentless tech advancements forebode (sounds ominous) some very exciting times ahead for online meetings. So, here at PowWowNow we are dusting off our crystal ball and exploring what the future holds. Is anyone going to bother coming into the office anymore? Are workplaces going to become completely digital? Is everything going to be done through a virtual reality (VR) headset as computer monitors become obsolete? These are the types of questions we know (think) you want answering, so here goes, the future of web meetings.

The power in 5G

We’ve previously written about the impact 5G will have on office communications but what does it mean specifically for online meetings? What it boils down to is faster network speeds. This lightning fast connection will greatly increase the efficiency of VoIP and video. We’re aware that one of the biggest current gripes with online meetings is connectivity. With 5G you can say adios to lag, even in high density areas such as airports and city centres. You’ll be able to have productive online meetings wherever you happen to be.

Say hi to AI

There’s been lots of buzz about artificial intelligence (AI) for a while now but how exactly can it be used in meetings? AI is already utilised in some online meeting software, an example being voice-to-text transcription. But how will it affect future meetings? Well, we can expect AI to add a host of extra benefits to online meetings. These benefits include using an AI assistant to create a “top-line meeting summary from the notes it’s taken, and then deliver those summaries to meeting participants. Using natural language processing, the assistant could also contribute to the meeting, perhaps by creating charts to illustrate data being discussed, or proactively accessing and sharing historical data relevant to the discussion”[1] (AI, you show off).

As AI develops further, we will see predictive AI, that seems to work one step ahead of us. Meeting prep will be left in the past as AI will be able to select the most relevant content based on what you hope to achieve from the meeting. In all fairness this doesn’t concern the actual online meeting experience but thought we’d throw it in anyway as it’s darn cool!

Blurring reality

Sounds scary right? Well hold your horses, it’s more fascinating than scary. The proper term is mixed reality, which combines augmented reality (AR) and VR. It’s described as the merging of real worlds with virtual ones, where physical and digital objects co-exist[2]. This tech has the potential to bring remote working to a whole new level. In today’s online meetings, you can use video to simulate a face-to-face experience. With mixed reality remote teams will be able to enter a part virtual environment from wherever. Office workers and remote workers will essentially be in the same environment, making collaboration seamless and efficient.

If this sort of tech sounds like just another fad (3D televisions, cough, cough), recent research suggests otherwise. It found that the immersive technology sector is growing rapidly and in the UK in 2018, generated £660 million in sales. You can already purchase headsets that use AR and VR technology, but the tech is still considered to be in its early stages. As the tech improves, we’ll certainly see it adopted by businesses looking to cater to increasingly tech savvy workforces.

Exciting times ahead

All these advancements in online meetings will hopefully bolster productivity and help get rid of geographical barriers. If implemented correctly these changes will enhance collaboration for remote teams across the globe.

Let’s just hope we don’t get too carried away and completely forget about the face-to-face meeting!

[1] https://www.comparethecloud.net/articles/video-conferencing-in-the-era-of-ai/

[2] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/324391