Videoconferencing has been used in the business environment for over a generation, but new technology standards and social trends have recently emerged that demonstrate how videoconferencing can be a useful tool throughout business. Aberdeen’s Hyoun Park Insights provide the analyst perspective of this research through surveys, interviews and data analysis.
Technologies that support collaboration between users at different locations are growing in demand. There has been a surge in the interest for videoconferencing, ranging from desktop to telepresence to mobile videoconferencing. As mobility continues to become the norm in everyday life and business alike, end users are looking to extend their enterprise communication experiences to mobile devices. Faster, smarter, and more capable smart phones and the emergence of collaboration-ready enterprise tablets is fueling the interest in mobile videoconferencing. While mainstream adoption is still a few years away, the demand drivers are all aligned for the market to pick up pace.
Last month, Elka Popova, Program Director of UC Collaboration for Frost & Sullivan wrote about the ubiquity of video in the consumer world and what that means for business use of videoconferencing. While the consumerization of IT has clear advantages for companies looking to leverage videoconferencing in their business, it also tells us that prosumers and visionary IT decision-makers are not going to put their money into complex infrastructure and high-end devices. Consumer video helps create awareness among business users, but it also establishes a new basis for comparison.
“Words convey meaning. A picture is worth a thousand words. A video says it all,” said Marthin De Beer, senior VP of Emerging Technologies, in his locknote speech at the 2010 Cisco Collaboration Summit. Accompanying the statement was a still image of a young man snatching an elderly woman’s purse, followed by a video of him pulling her to safety away from an oncoming vehicle. De Beer went on to talk about a “major market transition,” which he calls “pervasive video.”
The global economy is emerging from the recession and preparing for growth. Positive GDP and employment forecasts in the U.S. and Canada point to economic stabilization in the North American region, which is expected to unleash pent-up demand for advanced communications technologies. But are businesses seriously pursuing new technology investments? Are budgets in line with the perceived value of unified communications and collaboration?
2010 will mark the end of an extraordinary decade for enterprise communications that will be remembered for significant leaps in collaboration technologies including advances in social media, mobility and video. When it comes to adoption of enterprise videoconferencing, great strides are being made – all the way from desktop to telepresence. There will be a proliferation of video over the next few years and that will include users at the desktop and mobile users.
As they consider the best way to deploy and leverage their communications investments, many organizations are looking closely at desktop virtualization. Desktop virtualization is server-based computing that uses thin clients, or remote-connection software on fat clients. It presents a remote desktop to the user from the remote server, which he or she can access from anywhere, and on any compatible device (including public PCs). This makes it easy for employees to work from anywhere, while maintaining data integrity and general information security.
Videoconferencing has the potential to transform businesses by facilitating enhanced employee communication, more productive collaboration, and better access to information—inside and outside the organization. Only a few years ago, the costs and complexities associated with videoconferencing deterred its use, and enterprises had to solely rely on third-party providers to manage these solutions. Though management issues remain, the market has since seen large improvements in terms of affordability, evolution of standards, and interoperability.
According to the most recent research from Frost & Sullivan, the worldwide videoconferencing endpoints market reached $904 million in revenues for January through September, 2009, declining by six percent over the same period in the previous year. After a slowdown due to economic pressures followed by growth in Q4, we estimate total revenues for full year 2009 reached $1.25 billion, and that units sold grew by 4.1 percent.
As more companies go virtual, supporting employees regardless of where they’re based and whether they’re in a remote office, a home office or a hotel, they are reaping the benefits: the ability to hire the best and brightest regardless of where they live; savings on office real estate and other facilities costs; improved retention and employee-satisfaction rates, leading to much better productivity; and cost savings and green benefits from reducing travel and commuting.
Frost & Sullivan recently published the latest version of its annual market study on unified communications. For the purposes of this study, Frost & Sullivan defines a unified communications application as an integrated set of voice, data and video communications, all of which leverage PC- and telephony-based presence information. UC applications are meant to simplify communications for the end user by making it easy to “click to communicate.”
As more companies deploy a variety of communications and collaboration technologies to an ever-expanding list of employees, integration and interoperability are key to successes. Unified communications combines a variety of real-time and asynchronous communications tools in a single user interface, letting employees access all their communications with a single mouse click. UC apps typically include audio conferencing, desktop video conferencing, Web conferencing, instant messaging, unified messaging and other advanced voice capabilities, and presence information, as well as integration with e-mail and Microsoft Office applications.
As companies become increasingly dispersed, with more and more people working apart from their colleagues, managers and direct reports, the very nature of collaboration is changing. But it’s not just how people collaborating that’s different; it’s the fact that they are more inclined to collaborate in the first place. While much has been made of how social networking is blurring the lines between public and private, it’s also done something else: encouraged information sharing and open collaboration in a way not seen before, at least not among far-flung friends and co-workers.
Desktop videoconferencing is on the rise, and for good reason. The technology is a cost-effective way to keep remote and home-based workers engaged in company meetings, whether they’re exclusively among colleagues or involve business partners and customers. With desktop videoconferencing, employees everywhere can leverage the benefits of video, including the ability to read facial expressions and body language, which lead to a deeper level of engagement. And if the desktop videoconferencing software integrates with room-based systems, remote employees can use the technology to participate in larger meetings even if they don’t have access to a conference room.
In the introductions to these Weinhouse white papers, Ira Weinstein explains that videoconferencing — particularly desktop videoconferencing — is rapidly moving into mainstream business.