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Audio Collaborative 2020 and the Ever-Evolving Working Landscape

Event Commentary

17 Nov 2020 - COVID-19 has certainly accelerated the requirement for improved collaboration and conferencing platforms to assist with the flexible lifestyle many of us now lead. As we’ve all been thrusted into an unfamiliar situation that has required an overnight adjustment to remote working, how has this jumpstarted the ‘working from home’ revolution and provided further opportunity within the AV collaboration world?

At Audio Collaborative 2020, Senior Market Analyst Adam Cox discussed the topic of AV Collaboration in more detail. Joining him for the discussion was TJ Varghese, Product Manager at Google, Jason Goecke, VP and General Manager at Intel Unite and Martin Bodley, Director of Emerging Businesses at Bose.

Bridging Together the Home Working and Office Environment

Jason Goecke explained that there will be a growing need to have access to the same tools at the office as well as at your desk from home. “How do you create a seamless experience between the two? An ambient computing capability must allow workers to gain access to everything they have in the office while working from home.” Jason also referred to the vast opportunity for improvement within this space; the pandemic has certainly brought to our attention the range of networks that initially struggled to cope with colleagues working from home, as well as the additional challenge of training staff remotely.

TJ Varghese continued to explain that “the challenge with hybrid working is how to provide that experience when not everyone can achieve the same in-home environment – what we’re hearing from customers is the growing conversation around equitable working experiences.” TJ explained that there needs to be an accompanying product or form factor for those who are working remotely – whether that’s in the form of a tablet or another device.

Martin Bodley also shared his excitement around the shift to hybrid working, explaining the increased demand for video endpoints for huddle spaces. “There is video enablement going on within the walls of each building to facilitate these meetings; products and services need to address huddle spaces, remote users and different locations.” Martin also referred to the growing opportunity within wearable technology to improve the remote working experience.

Changing Priorities for Meeting Room Spaces

Martin also explained that people won’t want to use the office as an opportunity to seek a private workspace when they can already achieve this from home. In the long-term, offices will be used to engage and collaborate with other colleagues, and so spaces will be adapted to best accommodate this.

The panel agreed that we may see large organisations cutting back on real estate and investing in collaboration spaces for their remaining offices; this will then require the appropriate collaboration technology to better assist with remote working.

However, TJ explained that there are different perspectives to cater for; there will also be employees who don’t want to work from home or those who need a more suitable environment to work. What do large tech companies do to cater for those who require a more succinct boundary between work and home life?

The Death of Telephony in the Workplace

TJ Varghese stated that this very much depends on the reliability of people’s internet connection from home, with bandwidth limitations playing a role in how workers choose to communicate. 5G however will impact a lot of these challenges and we’ll see a tremendous wave that will influence telephone and video moving forward.

Jason added here that, “we may be overstating the death of telephony.” Voice is crucial to conferencing and video can become tiring for many. This is why it’s vital to work on algorithms to cancel out background noise - to enhance and drive engagement through voice.

The Rise of Spatial Audio in the Workplace

Martin Bodley explained that stereo and spatial audio will help to combat fatigue in meetings and will be the next step in creating a more collaborative experience, even when working remotely. This will start in niche areas where it adds the most value. While the gaming industry is leading the way here, the working world could benefit from spatial audio to utilise directionality for brainstorming sessions.
TJ added that, “what we’re trying to do is to get people to focus on the content that’s being communicated and the productive outcomes of our meetings, not necessarily the technology. Using spatial audio to bring yourself into a more natural environment to improve efficiency is the ultimate goal.”

Jason expanded on the spatial audio experience by stating that it wouldn’t make sense in collaboration platforms unless it was visually representative. There is a lot of work to do to create AR environments that allow you to visually see the people you’re working with while getting the full audio representation.

To find out more about the services we offer across the audio sector, please contact Leon Morris at leon.morris@futuresource-hq.com. If you were unable to attend Audio Collaborative 2020, tickets are still available for on demand access to view all of the panels and presentations from both days. View our events page here for more detail.

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Here at Futuresource Consulting we deliver specialist research and consulting services, providing market forecasts and intelligence reports. Since the 1980s we have supported a range of industry sectors, which has grown to include: CE, Broadcast, Entertainment Content, EdTech and many more.