Can You See Me Now? Why Cisco Thinks Video Is Set To Soar In The Enterprise

Video Gains New Ground

If the explosion of social media in the business world has told us anything, it's that younger generations can certainly shake things up in the workplace.

And just as it did with Facebook and Twitter, a new generation of managers is about to make videoconferencing in the enterprise more prevalent than ever.

According to Cisco's 2013 Global Young Executives' Video Attitudes Survey -- which surveyed more than 1,300 global executives under the age of 34 -- business-class video solutions are poised to take off big time over the course of the next five years. Here are a few of the study's most telling, and most shocking, findings.

Executives Are Planning For Video Now

If Cisco's findings prove anything, it's that the number of young executives planning to use video over the next five to 10 years is far from insignificant.

The survey found that three out of five executives under the age of 34, or roughly 61 percent of the survey-takers, have plans to leverage business-class video more heavily in the future. That number was even greater among workers who aspire to manage large teams -- meaning those with 51 or more members -- with 70 percent of those respondents saying they plan to adopt video in five to 10 years.

Video's 'Significant And Positive' Impacts

According to Cisco's findings, young executives are embracing video for a number of reasons, with 87 percent of overall respondents believing the technology will have a "significant and positive impact" on their organization.

The most common benefits of video cited by respondents were reading visual cues, to "be there" with colleagues and clients without travelling, and to share content in realtime. Other common benefits included reducing travel costs and enhancing the experience for telecommuters.

In addition, nearly nine out of 10 young executives said a company's investment in video is taken into consideration when they are looking at job offers. According to Cisco, respondents said that enterprisewide commitment to video technology makes them "feel like the company cares about using technology to fuel business growth."

Video Critical For Global Businesses

Besides reduced travel costs and more "face time" with clients, Cisco's survey-takers said a major benefit of video is helping global organizations overcome language barriers.

In fact, of those respondents who said they've been challenged by language differences in their organizations, 94 percent of them said video could help. According to these executives, video helps overcome language differences by giving conference attendees visual cues, and allowing them to notice when others don't understand a concept. Video, versus voice solutions, tend to give conference-goers a better feel of how the conversation is going, and if everyone is on the same page, survey-takers said.

Video In The Future

While Cisco's survey proved young executives have big plans for video, it also showed there are capabilities those executives would like to see in video solutions that they don't see today.

Fifty-four percent of respondents, for example, expressed an interest in being able to customize their video experience to a greater extent. Types of customization they're interested in include cutting a video recording from a meeting to share via social media tools, or being able to privately watch or scan content from earlier in a meeting to catch up after joining the meeting late.

Twenty-one percent of respondents said they are interested in realtime language translations -- i.e., closed captioning for telepresence -- or pop-up bubbles that pull up background information on participants' LinkedIn.

Keeping It Simple

The majority of young executives surveyed plan to use video over the next five to 10 years. But many of them also said they would use it more today if it were as simple to use, and as a pervasive, as other enterprise communication tools, like desk phones, mobile devices or email.

According to Cisco, 84 percent of survey-takers said they'd leverage video today for at least one out of every four interactions if it were easier to use and more readily available. Meanwhile, 53 percent considered themselves "would-be power users," who would use video for 50 to 100 percent of their non-face-to-face interactions if the technology were more pervasive.

Quality Counts

As much as young executives value video, they also get fed up when its quality is low, Cisco's study found.

The majority of respondents, in fact, said they would rather not use video solutions at all than use them when performance seemed sub-par. According to the study, only 25 percent of respondents said low-quality video would be acceptable for internal meetings, 12 percent said it would be acceptable for customer meetings, and even a slimmer 10 percent said they would use a low-quality video solution for "critical communications," meaning conferences with board members or C-level executives.

Camera Shy

While video may be the enterprise communication tool of the future, there are some instances, Cisco's study found, when employees shy away from the technology.

According to Cisco, the top five reasons for a young executive to opt out of a video call were having a messy office, personal appearance concerns, wanting to multitask, needing to eat, or just being generally uncomfortable on video.