back to article 40 million meeting rooms are yet to get video gadgets

If the new normal for workplaces fails to facilitate proper human collaboration, employees may fall back to old and outdated tech, according to chief analyst Matthew Ball at the Canalys Forums APAC 2021 on Tuesday. "We have taken a digital leap forward over the last 18 months, since the pandemic, which has allowed us to thrive …

  1. big_D Silver badge

    We ripped out the cameras from our conference rooms and gave them to users who had to go into home office - in the first wave, laptops and cameras were not widely available or expensive (we were quoted 800€ for an 80€ camera at one point!), the users took their desktops and the cameras home with them.

    After the initial lockdown, we moved to a hybrid environment and, to space people out, we started putting people from multi-occupancy offices into the conference rooms, so there was 1 to 2 people per office (depending on size) with others then occupying the conference rooms or working in a rota in home office.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge


    Zoom and Teams have made them obsolete. Best turn them back into something usefull. I suggest nap rooms as befitting their previous roles.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Obsolete

      Not really, our production teams can't really hold a meeting on the shop floor around the reactors and mixers, too much noise.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    People can confer by phone? Who knew?

  4. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Analyst warns that if upgrades frustrate, users might just give phone conferences a comeback

    Um, good? I pretty much never activate my laptop camera in meetings, and neither do most of the people I end up on calls with.

    I guess this is only bad news if you either make or sell webcams. Especially the over-priced ones they try and sell to businesses for meeting rooms, that get used a couple of times by the CEO and then left in the corner getting dusty by everyone else.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      FTFY: "that the CEO tries to use a couple of times"

      I've never seen a videoconference room that worked without a lot of faffing around, followed by a call to IT to find someone that knew what all the unlabeled switches did, even in a nearly-billion-dollar company. Result was usually an hour's delay rendering the meeting useless.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        The CEO succeeds where others stumble

        The CEO travels with their own IT person, and the admin calls ahead to find out what model equipment will be in use. It's the mid-level managers who faff around, or as noted just skip it.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Fearmongering much ?

    Neither Teams nor WebEx are all that difficult to handle.

    With Teams just use the browser, that avoids the installation hassle and you can use the guest invite, no personal info gathered there.

    With WebEx, sure, you have to install, but you do that once, then you can connect to any room someone invites you to.

    For both, audio & video are pretty easy to check and they mostly work with your default settings, so there shouldn't be need of much tinkering.

    YMMV, but I really don't see a global backlash against tools that we discovered in the urgency of the first confinement. It's working now, so why change it ?

  6. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Totally off topic

    "Sponsored: Driving better healthcare through human-centred technology"

    I'm picturing the healthcare van running over the patients.

    El Reg should offer HaaS -- Headlines as a Service.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He has a point.

    In my last job, I was remote from my colleagues and it was "interesting". This was before lockdown last year, so people were used to trecking off to meeting rooms for meetings. As the remote user, I was lucky if there was a token Skype camera, even more lucky if it was pointed in the right direction from a sensible vantage point. In the big lecture theatre it was placed so that it worked fine if the speaker was stood directly in front of the big screen - but often you just got a good view of their backside.

    Lockdown was great in many ways - a case of bringing everyone down to the same level.

    The challenge will be to handle people going back into workplaces without reverting to a "there in body, or only a token presence" situation for meetings. That's going to need investment in technology, and an investment in cultivating the right mindset to allow remote attendees to have a meaningful presence in the room.

    And for some of us (note posting as AC), security has a say in what we can use. We can't use Teams for most of our meetings in my current job because it's specifically not allowed because it's not secure enough - Skype is OK because that's hosted in house, but that's being taken round the back of the shed to be put out of it's misery before too long.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Hybrid video-conferencing

      I agree too. I had extensive experience of remote-working before Covid-19, and my experience echoes yours. I 'participated' in innumerable meetings by dint of a fixed-line telephone in hands-free mode sitting in the middle of the meeting-room table dialled-into an audio conference where I was the only remote participant.* It did not make for a seamless experience.

      Even now, after-Covid, I have just participated in a hybrid meeting, with half the participants in a meeting room and half connected from their respective home offices. The meeting leader used the very expensive Cisco video-conferencing facility as an external screen for their laptop, used the laptop's microphone, did not use any camera, and we spent the meeting with a cute little picture-in-picture window on the screen showcasing the ability of the Cisco kit to automatically zoom in on whoever was speaking round the table. To zero effect, as the home users were connected by non-Cisco technology.

      It shows that video-conferencing technology is not boringly mature and standard. We expect a Nokia phone to interoperate with a Samsung phone; and a Huawei phone, and an Alcatel phone, and a Motorola phone, and even be able to make calls to any fixed line phone number. It just works. Can Zoom talk to Cisco and Teams, and Jitsi, and PinkHyperbolicKube - no. Incompatible 'solutions' abound, and it is no wonder people don't want to learn how to operate the latest fad. I don't blame the meeting leader. The technology doesn't 'just work' - not for one-to-one Video calls, and not for hybrid video conferences where half the people are in one room and the rest spread throughout 'cyberspace'.

      I really want this technology to work. Virtual meeting rooms are so much easier to find than traipsing through 7 floors of an office block looking for the meeting cupboard with inadequate ventilation and a broken A/V system, shabby WiFi and inadequate Ethernet cabling. The technology has to be sufficiently reliable and available that people can be bothered to learn it and become used to using it. We have driverless printers. We need driverless videoconference software where you can put your laptop in a meeting room and automatically integrate the meeting room screen and audio into your videoconference without faffing about. If it is not easy and seamless to incorporate remote users into the physical meeting, they will continue to be second-class citizens.

      This wasn't meant to turn into a rant, but watching people who are expert in their own fields being dumbed down to idiocy by poor video-conferencing riles me somewhat.


      *The meeting room telephone number was always unknown to all, and the phones couldn't dial international numbers to call me directly.

  8. alain williams Silver badge

    You need meeting rooms

    if you work in an office that has many people - the meeting room stops you disturbing the others in the office.

    As a result of lock-down many work from home: one person offices, so meeting rooms are not as useful.

    As for cameras: almost all of the people in my jitsi meetings switch them off soon after joining the meeting.

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