Where employees get work done has changed significantly in recent years — and so has the place where they meet.
The shift is partly due to the rise of collaboration tools, which is still unfolding. Gartner projects half of enterprise virtual events will be held on the video meetings platform commonly used by their organization every day by 2025.
Meeting rooms evolved to respond to the inability to meet in person, with more of them including advanced video and audio equipment than before. High-tech conference rooms will become the rule, not the exception, as businesses shift how they see offices — and work itself.
"The office is no longer just a place, it's a networked employee engagement engine," said J.P. Gownder, VP and principal analyst at Forrester. "It is a collection of different locations, technologies and people."
There's a high bar for company meeting rooms, since company headquarters no longer represent a place to work, but rather a place to go work with other people, Gownder said.
The shift was accelerated by the pandemic but did not happen overnight. The Home Depot had been building technology into its conference rooms prior to the 2020 remote work shift. In due time, the effort paid off.
Remote meeting solutions meant "everyone can participate in meetings virtually as well as online, and we've done a pretty good job of merging those two," said JC Jammal, VP, Online, Customer, and Marketing technology at The Home Depot.
"We continue to experiment with more innovative things, but we do that very effectively now," said Jammal.
How adoption will change
Consider the differences between a pre-2020 meeting versus one taking place today. For most organizations, it's a different ball game.
"One of the first things that comes to mind is typically you'd have most of the people that should be in the loop sit in the room, and maybe you'd have one or two people that might be calling in, but you're not setting up a video for them," said Thomas Randall, research director at Info-Tech Research Group.
Now, the vast majority of meetings will have several participants who are remote, and the tools and methods in place should ensure equal participation.
"We can't go back to the 2019 situation where remote participants were second class citizens and nobody sort of cared," said Gownder. "That's not going to fly anymore."
It's with these shifts in mind that collaboration providers have delivered features and new offerings to the enterprise buyers market, in an attempt to expand enterprise use and adoption.
"We're seeing organizations invest in upgrading their video conferencing equipment: more cameras, better cameras, more microphones, better microphones, digital whiteboarding capabilities … in order to create that continuity of experience," Gownder said.
How and when these investments take place will vary from company to company. But spending on communication software has remained consistent over the past two years, and will likely continue into next year.
Communication software spending made up 6% of the overall IT budget in 2021 and 2022, and the same number is projected for 2023, Spiceworks Ziff Davis data show.
Some consolidation is expected, too, especially as companies grapple with what the financial landscape has in store for next year.
A number of factors will drive enterprise decisions around consolidating meeting room technology, Randall said:
- Features offered by providers
- Existing software and integration with those solutions
- Standardization by industry size and type
- Cost opportunities as contract renewal dates come up
Failure to respond to trends meeting room technology needs can ultimately impact employee satisfaction, Gownder said.
"If people are not having good meeting experiences that's going to hinder them in their productivity, it's going to hinder their creativity. It's going to mean that a certain number of people will have a bad employee experience and they'll end up leaving," said Gownder. "It's all part and parcel of your approach to equipping workers to be successful."