This is part four of a podcast series with Futurum Research called Navigate. The six-part series aims to help IT leaders navigate the changing times with insightful conversations about remote work, video conferencing, digital workplace trends, and more. You can view the other episodes below:
- Part One: Breaking Down Video Conferencing Privacy And Security
- Part Two: How Video Fits Into Your Long-Term Digital Workplace Strategy
- Part Three: How to Get More ROI from Existing Video Conferencing Solutions
- Part Five: Building a Scalable Video Conferencing Infrastructure
On this episode of Navigate, host Daniel Newman talks with Anders Lokke about how video conferencing enables business continuity and resiliency, and why interoperability is key for transitioning back to the office.
Video is Now Mission-Critical
In the last month, companies all over the world have been forced to shift how they operate. Most employees are now working from home and companies are turning to collaboration platforms and video conferencing software to enable connections. And while we’ve had video conferencing capabilities for some time, it has never seen an increase in usage like it has in the last 4-6 weeks. Pexip is reporting a 700% increase in usage over the last month.
There has been nothing that has accelerated digital transformation quite like COVID-19 has. Companies are being put to the test. Security, VPN, collaboration, video conferencing, and even the social part of being in the office are being tested as people are required to work from home. Specifically, many companies are having to become video-first companies. While some, like Pexip, were prepared for the change, many were not. But people are finding that connecting to video is not as complicated as they thought.
Addressing the Interoperability Challenge
Each company has a unique way of communicating. It could be the software they use or the hardware systems they have in place, but that poses a challenge when it comes to connecting. Interoperability between clients, companies, and now even between employees has been a roadblock for many companies as they’ve shifted to a work from home model.
Pexip is a technology that enables a better end-user experience. It enables simplicity and seamlessness when connecting. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a legacy Cisco or Poly system, Pexip works behind the scenes to connect users.
Anders used the analogy that each video communication tool speaks its own language. Pexip is translating that language to help enable continuity for businesses — a critical situation for what we are currently dealing with.
Tips for Companies Struggling with Continuity and Resiliency
If you’re struggling with continuity and resiliency remember that no one was ready for this crisis. No company was 100 percent prepared to manage the shift to work from home and the complications that came with. But there are lessons that we can take away from this that can help us in the future.
1. Have a contingency plan in place. It’s not likely that something like this will happen again, but another disaster could strike. Businesses need to be prepared. How do you drive your business with the tools that are available? It doesn’t mean that companies need to make investments now in new technologies, but everyone should put a plan in place to handle something of this nature again.
2. Be ready to return to work. Eventually, this crisis will subside. We will return to work, but how we work will likely be altered forever. Specifically, video will change how we work. Employees are discovering they can be productive working from home. Will you enable the same video connection that you have now when you return to work? Will you address the interoperability issues between your conference rooms and employee devices? How will you address the technology changes to ensure that your workforce is more efficient than it was before.
At the end of the day, it’s critical to remember that we are all just people who crave connection in some way. Video breaks down silos and connects people. How will you continue to use it?
To learn more about how Pexip enables interoperability, please click here.
Please see below for a full transcript of the interview:
Daniel Newman: Welcome to Navigate, a six part podcast series brought to you by Pexip. My name is Daniel Newman. I'm the Founding Partner and Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and I'll be the host of these podcasts. In this discussion I will be talking to Anders Lokke on how video conferencing is an important tool to enable business continuity and resiliency. Anders, welcome to the show.
Anders Lokke: Thank you very much Daniel. It's great to be here. Thank you.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, excited to have you. Before we hop into the discussion, can you go ahead and introduce yourself for everyone out there that's listening that maybe hasn't met you before? Talk a little bit about yourself and your role at Pexip.
Anders Lokke: Yeah, so my name is Anders Lokke. I have been with Pexip for about seven years now. I started back in 2013. Really came to Pexip from the audio visual industry but not from video conferencing. Kind of turned video conferencing nerd back in 2013 when I joined and now there is no meeting without video. My role today is I'm working with our strategic alliances. I work primarily with Microsoft and Google and so forth and handle those relationships for us.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. You guys have had a really interesting year of growth, some mergers and getting together with Videxio just recently it was a big move. And the company is full of experienced entrepreneurs that have built things, sold things, built things again, kind of going back to your roots in this space. There's a lot of video prowess in the Nordics for certain and it's great to have you on and to talk a little bit today.
Anders Lokke: Yeah, certainly. We came from ... Well, the company originated obviously as two different companies like I said, Pexip and Videxio, both spinning out to what was Tandberg and Cisco back in the old days. Took a couple of different routes, one creating a product, one creating a service based on that product to a large degree, and after a few years separately it made a lot of sense to combine the two to really show what that product is good for, based on the service as well. A lot of Pexip of customers over time asked for - can we have your product as a service? We really like the capabilities you have and what you do, but we really need it delivered as a service. And now everybody can have it as a service, self-hosted running in their own cloud, private, public, whatever. And that's really something that has benefited I think everyone out there, specifically obviously customers.
Daniel Newman: Oh, yeah. I've talked a lot about this, not just in video and really across the tech world. Whether it's cloud, storage, networking, AI, everything is moving towards that as a service model, companies want to be able to consume technology, whether it's in their data center or whether it's in the cloud. And so, companies are more and more moving towards that consumption, metered, traceable model.
But let's talk a little bit. So, it's April 2020 we're recording this right now. We're in the middle of this coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic crisis. And you would probably have to agree with me that despite the fact that video conferencing has been more than capable of enabling meetings for the last almost 20 years really, but in the last decade it's been more than capable in most networks of working, it has never seen pickup like it's seen in this last four to six weeks with the spread of COVID-19.
Anders Lokke: Yeah, you're right. I think the latest data we talk about and that we see from our service and from our customers is that just over a month or so we've increased about 700% in usage of the service platform. And obviously that is related to the fact that now people have to use video to enable their businesses and they have to use video to work remotely and so forth. And I don't think we're here anymore to talk about the virtues of video itself and the visual communication piece. We're here to talk about how do you enable your business to continue to run even though people have to work from home. I think that working remotely is a cultural thing for many. I like to say that we talked about digital transformation for many years already and all of a sudden it happened in two weeks or three weeks or whatever it was. Everybody had to start working from home, everybody had to pretend they're in the office but working on video, and everybody now has some kind of experience with video over the past couple of months. And that's been difficult for many, but also today you see that joining a video meeting today isn't any more difficult than joining a phone call and I think that's been a tremendous change for everybody, every knowledge worker, everybody that works on video from their houses out there everywhere.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I really like the analogy about digital transformation. That's something I'm focused on. I've written a number of books about it, talk about it all the time in numerous columns, and there has been nothing that has accelerated digital transformation quite the way this pandemic has. Companies were really put to the test of how good is our digital IQ, how good have our infrastructure investments really been deployed? When you went from having maybe a portion of your workforce, and in your case a large portion of the workforce, but in many companies' cases maybe a smaller or just a select group of maybe specific people in types of roles that we're able to remotely work. They'd have flex work but always had that opportunity to go into an office. They could easily go somewhere and work. All of a sudden the work had to be done from home.
That was testing security, that was testing VPNs, that was testing collaboration tools, that was testing Salesforce administration, ERP systems. There were a lot of tools where companies were like, oh. For a day if you wanted to go catch your child's soccer match this week and leave work early and then finish at home this evening, that was plausible. But when now you're home five, six days a week working all of the hours and having to do everything, a lot of companies I think really realized their transformations were not nearly as complete or prepared as what's happened here. I imagine you guys are seeing this with this wild growth in video usage and adoption.
Anders Lokke: Yeah. You're talking obviously about a lot of different types of use cases that you have to work from home, you have to do all of the things that you used to do in the office. Even the social part of being in the office, you have to do from home now. There are virtual happy hours and there are virtual coffee breaks and there are virtual smoke breaks for those people that still smoke. But everything is now happening virtually online and using video, and that's a tremendous change. And if I look at Pexip, yes we're a company that, we grew up with video, we promote videos to [inaudible] the first and foremost choice when we do our work, and a lot of people working obviously from remote locations and so forth, my team members are spread all over the world from Sydney to Los Angeles. And there's a whole way of doing that when you're a video first company. However, if you're not a video first company, you have become one at this point, right?
Daniel Newman: You better-
Anders Lokke: Yeah, exactly. There's still many ways of doing it. And even after hours socializing is happening now over video. I see my wife doing socializing over video, social Friday drink and so forth. There are just so many changes to how we work and how we act and how we interact with each other using video. And then obviously as a work relation or in a work situation there is no work without audio, there is no work without video, and there's no work without content sharing. And content is obviously king. So, you go in and collaborate, you go in and communicate and you work together with your colleagues as you would in an office just using video. It is a tremendous change.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. You mentioned so many different, a lot of it's that you talk about remote work, but then there's all the types of use cases, right? There's the all hands meetings or team meetings that need to take place, so one-to-one video, easy. As it gets more scaled up now you've got six or seven people. That's a different challenge for your solutions and infrastructure and tools. Then you've got maybe one too many types of communications where your CEOs, presidents and executives wants to talk to a large swath of your employee or customer population at one time. And the other side is teaching your sales force to bring customers in and. All these things probably really tax the systems. It's important to have that infrastructure in place. The cloud and obviously the infrastructure that Pexip is enabling is a tool in simplicity. So, we wanted to do this recording. I click a simple link, which has been very popularized. You click the link, join the room, everyone comes in, records a meeting, makes everything available. That's the way people want their systems to work. It's like going to visiting a website.
And I think this brings me to an important topic I'd like to get your take on. But quietly in the background to make all this work, so I'm on the network. It has nothing to do with your network. We're on completely different networks, different security protocols, different tools. But interoperability, that was for a long time the resistance to video. Interoperability was expensive. It took a lot of hardware in early days and over time it's evolved. But now it really is critical, but it's pretty transparent.
Anders Lokke: Well its interoperability is still a big challenge for many. So, if you walk into any one office today and that company that runs that office will have a meeting type culture, whether that be on one platform such as Cisco or Polycom whatever, it may be a completely different experience as you're walking into another office or a different company. They will have completely different pieces of equipment. They will have completely different ways of communicating and so forth, and that's the culture that is embedded in the company itself. Now, how do you work across these silos? And that's where interoperability comes in. And then you talk about one company to another company. But also there are different cultures inside one company. You can have those that are used to using video, those that are used to using video on their desktop computers maybe, maybe they're using Microsoft teams, maybe they're using Google Hangouts. They all need to meet together now using the tools and the devices and the things that they have available in front of them to make it easy.
And I think you touched on the point there. Interoperability is one thing. It's the technology that enables simplicity. It's the technology that enables in the background how people can seamless and work together without worrying about how do I join that meeting, how do I click on that link, what happens when I click on that link and so forth. So, interoperability is one of those things that we obviously pride ourselves on because we think that we're really good at doing and providing interoperability services. But it all has to do with the end user experience. What we want to provide to the end user is simplicity, seamlessness and so forth.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. Well, you mentioned this in passing, but you talked, because you're an alliances person, so you work for instance with Google and Google has a productivity suite that includes a video tool. And if you're just working in the public cloud and two people want to meet on a Google hangout or a Google meet, you can do that pretty easily. But the thing is, the real example here is that in the real world, companies have, especially when you're back in an office, and that will happen at some point, but companies have hardware infrastructure, they have that legacy Cisco equipment, they have probably even some Tandberg, they have Poly, they have maybe Lifesize. And I mentioned all these brands because really Pexip in a lot of ways was born in bringing together this, what we're doing right now from anywhere, any place, any device video, but making it simple for people to connect when there are different systems.
Because that's really where video has long fallen short, is that when I was in an office and I had one type of hardware, you were in a huddle room with another type of hardware. A couple of people want to join up on their phone, a few others want to join up on a video on their laptop, and they're all running different tools, maybe even a different client or a different web browser. Making that work together, it's not even just about interop Anders. It's really about experience. Most users don't want to know how it works, they just want to-
Anders Lokke: [crosstalk] And that's exactly what I'm saying as well. Interoperability is really the technology that sits in the background that you don't really need to care about. I don't care if I call you on my phone, if I have an iPhone, you have a Samsung, I don't really care if you have a Samsung and I have an iPhone, I just call you. And that's what you want to do and that's what sits in the background as well. That's what fixes this interoperability. That's the technology that we provide in many cases. It's not just a meeting platform. It's also a meeting platform that works across silos and it works across ways of communicating using video. All these systems that you talk about, all these ways of meeting, they speak different languages. It's travel. You travel to a different country, they speak a different language. We can do that instant translation between video languages, not just spoken languages but the video languages that these systems speak. That's a good analogy as well. So, I guess if you travel and go out to Europe, you wouldn't speak French in a day.
Daniel Newman: No. Although thanks to where things are heading with AI, we may not be long from having a video call like this where you could speak your native Norwegian and we could speak English. I've actually seen AI demos that were on phones where you can speak into one and it immediately comes out. And we've had long time ... There's been specific hardware appliances, kind of like old video bridges, but we're getting to that point where it's going to be so seamless that the world will be connected. We will be any language of interface. It will actually be any language. It's pretty cool when you think about it in terms of continuity and resiliency.
Well, let me wrap up this particular episode of Navigate with you and talk about just some tips. You're talking to these alliances, these partners, you're watching it grow. What do you advise to companies right now that are struggling with continuity and resiliency? What are a couple of tips for them to get through this?
Anders Lokke: Couple of good things I think to keep in mind obviously. Well, one thing is that we weren't ready for this crisis to come along and this pandemic and I think nobody was. That shows across all areas of companies and organizations and so forth. It shows in every single respect. We weren't ready. So, I think one of the things that we would like to advise is have a contingency plan. What are you going to do if people have to work from home again or people have to work remotely again, and how do you make sure that people are actually ready to both A, use video, and B, understand the value of video and so forth? How do you drive your business? How do you make sure that your business continues to run using these tools that actually are available? And I'm not saying that you need to invest in and have all these things available, but at least you need to have a contingency plan that makes sure that you are ready to scale when needed. Have some way of understanding how that works.
The other thing I would say for companies out there right now ... Okay, so now everybody's working from their home offices. I'm working from my home as you can see, you're working from your home as everybody knows and so forth. And what happens when we go back to the office? This thing now with video has changed I think, and will change how we work forever. It now shows, it now illustrates the fact that people can be accustomed to remote working. People will now work more from home and so forth. When you go back into the office ... Okay, so how do you the office to take care of that video load that you may have when you get back to the office? Are you going to equip all these rooms with more video? Are you going to let everybody have video? Are you going to fix the interoperability between the types of rooms and desktop systems and mobile phones and so forth that you already have? As we're not maybe ready to go back to the office just yet and we're waiting for that to open up and so forth, but make some plans and make sure that you're ready to go back to the office when you're actually getting back to the office. Now is the time to do that-
Daniel Newman: Right on-
Anders Lokke: So, I think there are a couple things. Yeah, I think there are a couple of things that we need to be mindful of when people want to work this way. I don't think I want to work from home the rest of my life, but you need to go into the office every now and then to socialize. But people are now being accustomed to having this flexibility or working wherever and whenever.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think a lot of companies realize that there are certain parts of the work that can be done this way. It can be done more this way. I think travel will be something that needs to be more closely scrutinized. And I still believe in the handshake, or maybe it'll be an elbow. I still believe in breaking bread and having wine and having meetings in person. But I do think a lot of companies also realize how much more efficient they can be, how video can help be more efficient, how communications can be more streamlined. And these tools are certainly enablers of that and I think you make a great point. When this is all said and done, my analyst hat on says companies should learn from this, companies should apply the tactics, things that work, things that created a better workplace, a more efficient workplace.
Turning the camera on was just such a big move. And I hate to say it because your company, and Pexip was a video company, but I have countless meetings with video enabled technologies where people did not turn the camera on. And I think one of the biggest differences is turn it on. Turn it on because it's not about being perfect anymore. I don't look great, perfect. You don't necessarily look perfect. Our rooms aren't perfect. But being face to face makes this conversation so much more meaningful and can help your business be so much stronger and the relationships be so much stronger when you can't get face to face.
Anders Lokke: And I think this is ... If I get to have the last word, I think one of the really good things I've learned over the past few weeks is this. Okay, so now everybody works from home and everybody was doing exactly what you said. They didn't turn the camera on because it was in their bedroom, in their kitchen and so forth. Now, everybody's working from home. Everybody's in the same situation. It breaks down barriers. It breaks down barriers of I'm actually in my house. You don't have the expectation anymore of having to see an executive and a tie in an office in a nice meeting room. Everybody's working from home. We're just people and video connects people.
Daniel Newman: I love it. We're just people and our business must go on and this has been a great discussion. Anders Lokke, thank you so much for the conversation, for joining this episode of Navigate. I will let you go, but we will talk very soon. Stay safe out there and everybody, thanks a lot for tuning in. We'll talk to you later.
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