An increasingly mobile workforce — and an influential part of that workforce — is changing how people collaborate across video, audio and web conferencing platforms.

Millennials (folks born between 1982 and 2002) make up the largest growing generation of workers today. But most important to IT teams supporting users, millennials prefer to communicate differently compared to their older coworkers.

They tend to text first, and are more comfortable conducting video chats using their smartphones. Voice-only communication is typically one of the last things they turn to. I’ve often heard young workers describe the necessity of picking up a handset as akin to “picking up a hundred pounds.”

In fact, in my experience, even if a business has deployed an agentless tool or invested in enterprise video conferencing meeting rooms, millennials tend to turn to their personal devices for quick video chats.

This is understandable considering that some legacy video conferencing systems can be cumbersome and difficult to use. As a result, business professionals have to call in the IT department to help or, as often happens, organizations abandon the technology altogether.

How should an IT team deal with this? Given my job — working with customers on collaboration solutions for CDW —  I get that question often when helping organizations figure out the best way to allow effective and secure collaboration across platforms. The answer is this: It’s about the experience. If you make the end-user experience seamless, your employees will adopt a technology.

Customers are often concerned about the cost to implement video bridges. Cloud video bridges are a great way for organizations to dip their toes into this space without making a large investment or changing their existing infrastructure too much. That is because these bridges serve as a cloud-based link for disparate systems that can be managed through a single pane.

Invite ’Em All

Cloud video bridging is an affordable platform for many organizations because the cost per person is now nearly comparable to the cost per person of an audio conference bridge.

The demand to seamlessly collaborate across any video, audio or web conferencing platform or device is attracting companies to offer a virtualized scalable meeting platform.

This means that companies using a cloud bridge can scale up to accommodate more users. For example, a company might pay for a 25-user bridge, and for 99 percent of its needs a 25-person bridge is sufficient. But what happens once or twice a year when the company needs a 30-person bridge?

Usually, meeting chaos will ensue. While IT administrators might know that the conferencing system caps out at 25 participants, the typical user isn’t privy to that information; they just want to conduct their meeting.

So, in an on-premises environment, every caller after the 25th person who attempts to come onto the call will be blocked. On the other hand, most cloud providers will let you burst to allow unlimited participants and avoid a bad experience for users. Depending on your cloud provider, you can pay in advance for bursting or pay a little extra later when bursting is used.

Building an enterprise video bridge on-premises can be pricey. As companies switch to a cloud video bridging service, managers might wonder what they should do with legacy technologies in which they’ve made large investments. There is no need to scrap them. They can keep existing technologies and endpoints, because video bridges in the cloud can be intergrated into popular premises-based systems.

The beauty of this approach is that it’s imperceptible to users. For example, a Microsoft Skype user can place a call to a Cisco Telepresence user, and neither user will have any idea that the other is using a different platform.

 Weigh the Options

As companies entertain moving to a cloud service, managers should check the quality of video bridging to determine if the latency is near zero and determine how much demand it will place on bandwidth.

Most cloud providers offer a high level of security, offering administrator portals and integration with Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory. IT departments can securely add and delete users, as well as lock meeting rooms, so unauthorized people cannot jump in and out of calls.

Cloud providers differentiate themselves by allowing users to share content, such as presentations or screens. Additionally, most cloud video providers also offer advanced features, such as whiteboarding and drawing on presentations, polling audiences during calls, or one-to-one chats.

With any new collaboration software, businesses need to adopt a plan to let employees know that they can easily incorporate cloud video conferencing into their workflows — and increase productivity.

See what’s happening now with the use of video for interviewing job candidates in this CDW Blog post on Web Real-Time Communications.

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