Microsoft, Cisco, Zoom, and the Return of Breakout Rooms
by Jim Lundy
This week at Microsoft Ignite, AVP Jeff Teper announced the addition of breakout rooms to Microsoft Teams. This follows other moves by Zoom and Cisco to add these capabilities as well. This blog talks about the importance of breakout rooms and why are they making a comeback.
The Return of Breakout Rooms and Why You Need Them
In the early days of web and video conferencing, there was a use case called virtual classrooms that was used for remote learning. In fact, a number of products or dedicated virtual classroom offerings existed. This included products such as Adobe Connect, Webex Training Center, and GoToTraining. While some providers never stopped offering those capabilities, many let the breakout room functionality fade away due to lack of demand.
Now as people work remotely during COVID and with virtual instruction in schools, the feature has made a huge comeback, as sometimes you need to have people in breakout rooms to do class activities and support complex enterprise meetings. We also need to have breakout rooms for virtual conferences. The reality is that breakout rooms is a killer app for meetings and virtual classrooms.
Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom Add Breakout Rooms
Earlier this year, Zoom added breakout rooms for Zoom meeting users on its platform. Over the summer, Cisco announced the addition of breakout rooms to Webex, something that used to be offered before. Finally, this week Microsoft announced that they would be releasing breakout rooms for Microsoft Teams in the next few weeks.
New Use Case: Breakout Rooms for Events
As we stay in a prolonged remote work environment, events are still going to be virtual for at least the next year. Breakout rooms as part of the webinar offering allows a vendor to offer a multi-track conference and move people back-and-forth between large sessions and smaller rooms.
Virtual event tools are making a comeback, but in many cases existing webinar offerings that have breakout rooms will more be more than sufficient to handle a small event. Realize that many virtual event tools are simply websites that have built-in navigation. Most still link to a webcast or webinar platform.
Given the demand for virtual events, Aragon will be doing an evaluation of event and webinar platforms that provide a minimum of functionality. I stress functionality because many of the tools are not easy to use and that causes a drop-off in attendance.
The fact that so many providers are moving quickly to enhance their meeting and webinar offerings is good for the industry. Enterprises that need to do both remote learning as well as events should evaluate these new capabilities for internal and external events. While breakout rooms are a given for training use cases, the providers are still figuring out how to offer a streamlined virtual event experience. Look for more coverage on breakout rooms from Aragon going forward.