“Disruptive” technology isn’t a buzzword exclusively for Silicon Valley.
This year’s InfoComm show will highlight the disruptive ripples unified communications have been setting in motion.
“There’s been a lot of change in the UC industry,” noted Carol Zelkin, executive director of IMCCA, the videoconferencing and telepresence association. She also noted that we’re in the midst of “a very pivotal moment” for the industry, in which there’s a great deal of technology and opportunities “coming to the forefront.”
There are four major disruptive trends IMCCA identifies: the “post smartphone era,” where mobile connectivity isn’t really about telephones anymore; the proliferation of algorithms, which report what is happening to us and what all the data means; contextual connectivity, indicating that the devices we use are capable of communicating all sorts of different contextual information; and the changing flow of storytelling, with the second-screen trend and multitude of sources from which we consume information.
What’s really new about these disruptive trends is that the traditional hardware firms have caught on and are embracing them. And all of the new vendors at the Unified Communications and Collaboration pavilion, of which there are plenty, are focusing on these disruptive areas, Zelkin told me.
As far as vertical markets go, perhaps the largest source of growth in UC tech development and installation opportunities is in the telemedicine category. This is true for most AV technology at the moment, but particularly with UC, which many healthcare facilities were previously hesitant to embrace. “I think the telemedecine industry is embracing that this is something they can use in so many different forms,” Zelkin said.
There are video applications in doctor’s offices and hospitals alike. Patients are being filmed for doctor observation and monitoring from a distance, and doctors can send patients home with important information via video, enhancing the critical step of limiting hospital readmissions (a factor that now provides financial incentives).
Just one example for this week: Vidyo announced a partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to provide its visual communications and collaboration technology to the statewide telehealth network (AFHCAN). Thousands of Alaska healthcare providers can now conduct real-time, HD video consultations and exams with hundreds of thousands of patients in more than 200 locations. The partnership integrates Vidyo’s APIs with AFHCAN’s tConsult software system.
The American Telemedicine Association’s annual meeting takes place this week, so perhaps we will see some other current news announcements about telemedicine expansion.
From a technology adoption perspective, “Some hospitals have totally embraced all forms of conferencing. They totally get it,” Zelkin said.
The same goes for distance education. Zelkin noted how UC “used to be only either in rural schools or fancy universities, but now it is part of the mainstay,” with so many people being educated at a distance, and other constant use between the office and the home. “We’re certainly seeing it grow in a lot of areas.”