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Business Trends in 2020 and Beyond: The Office OS, Advanced AR/VR & the Deeply Personalized Workplace
January 31, 2020 by Matt Torman

As we close out the first month of 2020 and move further into the new decade, the pace of technology innovation continues to accelerate at an ever-increasing speed, with new advances and capabilities seemingly changing how businesses and consumers use technology every day.

Here at Zoom, we are hard at work to meet and exceed this pace of innovation — we released 300+ new features in the past year alone — to give our users the most modern, efficient, and comprehensive unified communications experience. Part of doing that is the constant evaluation of the state of business, employees’ and employers’ changing demands, and the unique challenges in addressing them.

Zoom Rooms Virtual Background

With the world’s population approaching 8 billion people, of which two-thirds are millenials and Gen Z, the expectations of what technology can do, the ability to take control of (or at least have a massive voice in) the selection of technology solutions is more critical now than ever before.

Zoom Chief Product Officer Oded Gal and Global CIO Harry Moseley weighed in on how changing workforce demographics and other forces are shaping the latest business trends. Here are their thoughts on a few developments they expect to see transform the workplace, unified communications, and employee productivity sooner than later.

Count on an OS for the workspace

Organizations will leverage cloud services like Zoom as the OS of their workspaces, in much the same way consumers use Amazon Alexa and Google Home as operating systems in their own homes. An ecosystem of compatible and connected devices delivering multiple use cases, including video and phone communications, and company-wide information distribution, will empower teams of the future.

Technology decisions in the workplace, then, will be centered on the thing that better enables users — service — and not just which hardware to deploy.

“In the past, you’d choose technology from a company like Cisco because they made the best hardware,” Gal says. “But the device itself is no longer the key anymore. Hardware manufacturers, already moving away from building the full software stack, will simply provide purpose-built devices that run the software of the service vendor. Together, that makes a solution, but it all starts with the service.”

AR and VR will be communications staples

The use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has exploded over the last couple of years, and the traditional AR definition (and VR definition) already are expanding across modern technology use cases. Moseley predicts that AR and VR will become a bigger part of our communications experience. This includes using AR and VR to instantly alter a person’s appearance to make it more work-appropriate — hiding your gym clothes and having your hair ready, for instance — or even using AR and VR to translate real-life details into the virtual space, such as the ability to “shake hands.” 

“Movie theaters already are experimenting with more to sensory experiences,” Moseley said. “Perhaps it’s a pine smell when a character runs through a forest, or seat and room vibrations during an on-screen earthquake. It’s a more immersive experience for the consumer, and video communications similarly will enable enhanced meeting experiences.” He also expects to see holographics and 3-D become experiences in the everyday workplace.

More satelitte offices, more telecommuting

Organizations will compete for high-skill workers through flexible work environments and renewed focused on employee satisfaction, in particular, employee experience as opposed to employee engagement. With companies adopting flexible, user-friendly video communications solutions like Zoom, Moseley says businesses will continue transitioning from large central offices to smaller, decentralized satellite offices and further enable telecommuting.

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Reducing or eliminating an employee’s commute to the office means more time working and less time traveling, which will improve employees’ quality of life and drive productivity. They will also be able to overcome geography limitations and hire the best people for the job, no matter where they are. Recent Zoom-Forbes Insights research suggests these workplace trends already are significantly shifting how organizations design collaboration and takes into account the growing need to provide telecommute options.

Cohesive internal communications

Executive teams frequently rely on various internal communication channels to their employees which are typically using email, the firm’s intranet, or the chain of command — from department heads down the organization to the most junior professional. These patterns make internal communications highly impersonal and do not connect the professional to the executive team and their CEO. More executives want to communicate directly, in real time and physically, as a way to better engage all parties.

Moseley predicts that companies, specifically the executive teams of all companies, will more dramatically embrace town-hall-style video webinars and the like. This will be driven by companies moving to a more distributed workforce and one that is more global. There is nothing more powerful for professionals of all levels to hear about the company’s well-being, the strategic direction for the company, where it is winning and losing, and what the plan going forward will be.

“Employees want to hear from leadership. They are tired of the ‘broken telephone,’ and they want to see and hear the C-suite,” Moseley said. “They want to hear the words, they don’t want to read these emails that come out that tell them how things are going or what the direction is. They want to hear from leadership about what the strategy is for the company, what are their challenges, and where have they been successful, so I think that we’ll be seeing more of those broader communications in the future than we have in the past.”

The year of insights

Gal also noted that innovation isn’t solely about delivering new technology. In addition to all the hardware, software, and integrated communications experiences promised in 2020, Gal added that an enhanced understanding of how your technology is used will define the upcoming year — and beyond.

“If 2019 was the year of the user experience and using data analytics to improve those experiences, 2020 will be the year of insights,” he said. “Organizations will learn so much when they understand how technology is adopted and used, and how it’s affecting productivity. These insights will be key to determining ROI and any future investment.”

Tell us your thoughts

We’d love to hear what you think about these developing business trends. Please share your thoughts on these and other workplace trends by emailing Oded (oded.gal@zoom.us) and Harry (harry.moseley@zoom.us).

To learn more about how Zoom can meet your organization’s current and future needs, schedule a personalized demo with a Zoom product specialist today!