Channel Execs on the New Tech They Are Placing Their Bets On – UC Today

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Figures from across the European channel predicted the next hot trends in collaboration technology
Phone systems, more immersive audio and video devices, and private 5G networks are some of the trends that channel executives predict will be big for business.
Speaking during a virtual panel on collaboration trends at the recent Canalys Channels Forum, executives from ALSO, Centro Computer, Vohkus, Tech Data, Lenovo, Insight, Nuvias, Servium, and VitrX were asked what technologies they will be investing in over the coming years and what the industry should expect in the space.
The popularity of hybrid working is expected to push demand for products and software that enable users to work seamlessly from anywhere.
Vincent O’Hanlon, CEO of VitrX, predicted that an overhaul of phone systems will come about to allow users to transition a call from one device to another without disruption, adding that the “novelty” of a video call might soon wear off, but good phone systems are always needed.
“We’ve just invested in a new phone system, and it is so much better, I can make a call from my desk phone and move it across to my mobile. For example, I was recently on hold with someone for a long time but had to go out, and it was quite easy just to pick up from another device,” he stated.
“I wonder whether the novelty of video will wear off eventually. I’ve been on lots of Teams calls where I’m the only one with a video camera on because some people are obviously in their pajamas and don’t want to be [seen] on the call.”
Audio and video technology that enable an egalitarian culture among office-based and remote workers will also see demand from organisations, according to Joel Chimoindes, VP Maverick Europe, Tech Data.
“Immersive audio experiences that make conferences less tiring and more interactive is a key one,” he shared.
“We will also see the need to provide users – be they remote or present [in the office] – to feel included in meetings, and therefore I think there will be the opportunity for immersive video systems like Microsoft Teams Front Row.
“In a hybrid working environment, teams will polarise: you’ll have certain people work at home and certain people working in the office. You have to make sure that those remote workers feel included in the meetings, and therefore have all the same experiences and opportunities that people working in the office have”
Loay Lawrence, Commercial Director at Vohkus, agreed with Chimoindes’ assessment, adding that the onus is on software vendors to design meeting room solutions that don’t require several steps to set up.
“I was physically in a meeting recently, and a few people who couldn’t show up dialled in, but it was a sticking plaster solution,” he recalled.
“It’s now down to the software providers to say ‘This is the button that you press and the meeting is broadcast everywhere’ as opposed to the process of connecting my laptop via HDMI cable into the telly, having to put the laptop at a certain angle because I want to get the camera, but I’ve also got to keep it close so my voice can be heard.
“That solution needs to come from the software people, and it needs to be cross-platform. Whoever comes up with that first, I think they’re going to be onto a winner”
Paul Barlow, CEO of Servium, said that his organisation will continue to focus on supply and configuration, but that private 5G networks are also an upcoming trend due to the demand for hybrid working.
“This collaboration malarkey doesn’t work very well if you don’t have good Wi Fi bandwidth,” he stated.
“I think in the coming years private 5G networks are also going to be somewhere that we’re going to be focusing on.”
The ubiquity of hybrid working will also compel managers to figure out how to maintain a workplace culture with a distributed workforce, and technology will play a key role in this, said David Treiberg, Group Lead Microsoft at ALSO.
“We’re seeing rapid development in technology in the next few years. That comes back to the change management,” he said.
“How do we make the end customers adopt these new technologies and improve the whole working environment? it’s a super exciting future ahead of us, and a massive opportunity.”
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