Q

What's driving video interest and funding growth of video platforms?

There are four drivers that are spurring video interest and funding the procurement of video platforms, says Nemertes Research's Irwin Lazar.

What's driving video interest and funding the procurement of video platforms?

We are seeing four independent drivers that are growing interest in video conferencing and funding the procurement of video platforms. The first driver is high definition (HD). HD is giving people more detail and a better quality of experience compared to previous fuzzy, unclear images. The prices of video systems also continue to drop, making them more accessible and easier to procure. In addition, virtual workers who work away from home are increasingly demanding access to face-to-face communication and collaboration. Reducing the cost of travel -- not to mention the wear and tear on individuals -- is very alluring. All of these drivers have come together in the past 18-24 months and have really pushed video interest and adoption within the enterprise.

If you're not currently deploying HD, I would say you are making a mistake. Consumers have come to expect HD at this point. They're used to having HD calls through public services like Skype and FaceTime on their Apple devices, and they are starting to understand the benefits of video. They appreciate seeing someone's face to read non-verbal communication. This is especially useful for crossing cultural boundaries, when you talk to people in different parts of the world. In these cases, video becomes more of an enabler. Many organizations and specific verticals can also leverage HD in order to accomplish things they couldn't before. For example, telemedicine gives doctors the ability to diagnose patients remotely, while clothing manufacturers can provide a 3D-view of a model.

The second driver is virtual collaboration. About 85% of companies have active programs to increase their number of teleworkers. This is done to support different lifestyles, reduce employee travel time, give workers more flexible hours and allow employers to hire outside of a core operating region.

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Sometimes, when people work from home, they start to feel disconnected. They're not getting face-time, and they don't have the opportunity to walk down the hall and have an informal conversation with coworkers. Leveraging video in these situations can offset some of those disconnected feelings.

The third driver is a combination of falling prices and higher quality. Today, you can get an HD system with a single room codec (with or without a screen) along with an external consumer monitor for under $3,000. There have been a slew of announcements in the past three years that drive the price down for HD room systems. Many video conferencing vendors now support HD video on a desktop, while most newer PCs support HD and come with cameras. It's apparent that the barrier to video is chipping away. Once people get familiar with it in their personal lives, they start demanding more video conferencing at work. Consumers are also using more mobile video through services like FaceTime or Skype, which are crossing into the enterprise. 

For example, employees will use iPads to show work outside of corporate, because corporate doesn't provide that kind of capability. When corporate hears about this, IT typically starts to consider delivering and integrating these capabilities into room and desktop systems. While desktop video deployment is still not largely deployed, it will grow considerably in the next few years. Most companies tell Nemertes Research that fewer than 2% of their desktops are video-capable. Over the next year, 71% of companies expect to add desktop video.

The fourth driver is video being built into most communication applications. If you're replacing a phone system, unified communications solutions and desktop chat clients (like SameTime or Microsoft Lync) all have video capabilities built in. This is when you must decide on supporting video. Increasingly, companies are supporting video even with concerns about bandwidth, network performance and video application performance.

Furthermore, while employers are thinking about desktop, users are already moving on to mobile devices. One client told me they expect tablets to replace their desktops over the next three to five years. When planning a video strategy, companies need to think about mobile support with desktops.

As of last year, about 25% of companies used tablets for corporate work. In more recent research, an astounding 41% said mobile video support was important to them and 21.7% rated this support as critical. The bottom line is that mobility is where video is headed.

For more information, read more expert advice about the state of video in the industry.

This was first published in May 2013

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