Nov 20, 2019

Bots ruling the meeting room. About future trends in meetings

Workplace

6 min read

Looking back on how technologies like touch, wireless presentation, remote meeting, UC&C solutions, AV control management etc. have changed meeting efficiency and collaboration over the past years, there is only one certainty for the future. Tech solutions will keep on revolutionizing the workplace and the meeting room deck in particular. Brace yourself for quite some changes in the years to come. You expect giving instructions to tech with hands and voice to come to the office soon. And always look your best in remote meetings (indeed, think Snapchat filter 😊) – sounds fun! But having your own avatar attend a meeting that you can’t dial into? Or a bot taking meeting notes? How futuristic is that?

What’s coming our way?

In the recent report on the ‘The future of meetings’ professionals were asked about their expectations for future tech trends in the meeting room and how soon they thought a range of technologies should be made available to use in meetings.

 

We want voice recognition

83% of us want to see voice recognition in meetings within the next two years

Alexa and Siri are already your BFF in your home environment and personal lives. So why not have a new friend in the meeting room? One that listens to your commands to set up a call or looks up a graph on your computer. Voice recognition in the office is expected to be one of the next big changes: tech in office environment attaining the same level of sophistication as the latest personal tech like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod.

It’s clear that the most keenly sought-after emerging technology is voice recognition. Two in five professionals worldwide (40%) want this in meetings now, increasing to around half of professionals in India (50%), the US (49%) and China (48%), and just under half of Millennials (47%). Not having voice recognition in meetings may be tolerated today, employees will soon be less forgiving. The vast majority (83%) want voice recognition in meetings within two years at the latest.

 

We want video filters

81% of us want to see video filters in meetings within the next two years

Playing around with filters for photo editing on social media has been trending for some years. Filters that double or halve your age, give you piercings, make-up or a smoother complexion: the sky is the limit. Snapchat was one of the first to introduce and really start to market their filters. Facebook and Instagram soon followed. There is a lot of debate on whether the use of filters is a way to express yourself creatively or just a way to hide your true self behind an attractive alternative and damage your self-esteem. Since using filters on photo and video has been common practise for some time now, the question arises whether corporate environments are ready for them. Is there a tendency to always wanting to be on fleek during meetings as well?

Video filters are in high demand it seems. With video set to feature in the vast majority of meetings in the future, participants want to look their best! One in three (32%) are already eager for this technology now and four in five (81%) want it within the next two years. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that meetings are purely rational, business exchanges. They aren’t. A meeting is a show where we are on display. Confidence matters, and a cool feature like video filters can help to provide this.

 

We want hand gestures

80% of us want to have hand gestures for tech in meetings within the next two years

In a recent blogpost Google stressed the importance of hand-gesture recognition and how its development could bring us to new applications that would allow us to interact with our smartphones naturally. The technology is evolving at a rapid pace and coming into our lives on different levels. In the world of gaming, healthcare, robotics or simply as a replacement for password authentication. So why not have hand gestures in the meeting room?

Where’s the clicker? Anyone seen it? Imagine not having to worry. Instead, what if you could use hand gestures to control technology in meeting rooms, such as ‘swiping’ between slides or adjusting the brightness of lights by opening or closing your hand? Similar to voice recognition, this could vastly improve efficiency and convenience in meetings – nearly a third (30%) want this now and 80% within the next two years.

 

We want avatars or bots

78% of us want bots and avatars in meetings within the next two years

Remember Disney-Pixar’s Wall-E, James Cameron’s Avatar or R2-D2 in Star Wars? Not so long ago, bots and avatars were merely Hollywood stars, imaginative mechanical characters on a big screen, solely for our entertainment. Who would have guessed that robotics would be all around us today, appearing in our everyday life? Pet robots used in geriatric homes, household robotics cleaning and mowing your lawn, nano-robots that are being developed for medical treatments, drones used for military purposes or having an avatar in Second Life. Robots in workplace are not that uncommon nowadays. Think of assembly-lines or order-picking. Especially in automotive and pharmaceutical industries robots are just as common on the work floor as human beings.

What would the advantage of having a robot in a meeting be? A so-called virtual assistant could bring many benefits to meetings: as a notetaker, a facilitator, a timekeeper, a researcher... There is actually a generational difference in our perception on the use of bots and avatars in meetings. Fact is there could potentially be real value when introducing a bot or avatar in meetings.

  • Baby Boomers want bots and avatars to do administrative work and improve efficiency:
    • creating written transcripts of meetings (56%)
    • providing timing reminders to help keep the meeting on track (54%)
  • Millennials prioritize interacting with bots and avatars to enhance the meeting
    • checking facts or databases to answer questions in real time (54%)
    • comparing participants’ calendars to find free timeslots for the next meeting (54%).
    • Control the presentation screen e.g. to move between slides/documents (51%)

 

We want AR

77% of us want to AR in meetings within the next two years

AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) have already entered the world of gaming, learning, construction, architecture, military... Customers can visit a virtual version of their future home, kids can go on a journey to the other side of the world by putting on a VR headset, marketing campaign mix holograms into your surroundings: experiences become immersive.

Meeting attendees see significant potential from AR overlaying information in real-time (65%) – e.g. onto smart glasses. We also want AR to bring in relevant information from external sources such as internet pages (61%).49% expect details on the mood of meeting participants (e.g. show when they are becoming tired or bored) and 43% on the room environment (e.g. air quality, temperature).

VR meanwhile is also expected to take off, with 81% expecting it to be made available for meetings in their organization within the next three years.

 

The pace of change is increasing!

 

If you thought technology has already changed meetings and they can now stop evolving... think again. Attendees want voice recognition, video filters, hand-gesture control, AR, VR and bots all to be commonplace in meetings within the next three years. This will improve remote collaboration, enable more efficient meeting management, and increase engagement.

 

Looking at the timeframe in which employees expect to have certain solutions up and running in their workplace, it looks like a good time for business to start budgeting and preparing for their future workplace strategies. Organizations that are slow to recognize and react to these evolving employee demands risk being left behind.

 

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