Telepresence and video conferencing: Reaping the benefits

In new research, Aberdeen Group has identified how enterprises succeed or fail with video conferencing and telepresence. Find out how the best companies achieve their success and how the laggards fail.

The benefits of video communications technology have yet to be realized in many enterprises, but the right deployment

and the right corporate culture can help these companies reap tremendous benefits.

"Video conferencing technology has traditionally been underutilized in the enterprise because there has been difficulty in using the technology from both a cultural and network perspective," said Hyoun Park, research editor for Aberdeen Group.

Park said this difficulty has been rooted in insufficient bandwidth and equipment that lacked the clarity and definition to provide an adequate user experience. He said people have also been culturally uncomfortable with video.

In new research, Aberdeen has identified how companies are successful with their video deployments and what kinds of benefits they reap from them. The firm surveyed about 180 enterprises and classified them into three categories: best in class, industry average, and laggards. Best-in-class companies made up the top 20% of the sample, while laggards made up the bottom 30%.

Aberdeen used three criteria for determining where a company ranked in this spectrum. First it looked at how long it took the average user to set up a video conference or telepresence session. Then it looked at the utilization rates of fixed video and telepresence technology in a company. Finally it determined how much a company has reduced its corporate travel over the last 12 months.

Best-in-class organizations were 63% faster than industry-average companies at setting up a video session, Park said, while laggards were 164% slower than average. Best-in-class companies used video 56% more than the industry average; laggards used it 50% less than average companies. Best-in-class companies saw a 24% reduction in corporate travel over the last year, whereas laggards saw their corporate travel increase by 15%.

Clearly, the laggards are not getting the most out of their video deployments, Park said.

"If it takes a long time to set up, you'll want to avoid using it," he said. "So you've got these expensive systems sitting around in a room, and they're not being used. You can see why these companies would be reluctant to make an upgrade."

High-definition (HD) video is an important technology for successful business use of video. Sixty-five percent of best-in-class organizations used HD video, while only 9% of laggards used it. Park said the peripheral features of a full telepresence setup are also important to the successful use of video because the life-size screen improves the user's experience, and the low latency and low jitter offered through a telepresence package are essential. He said telepresence rooms are also easier to use in general.

Park said successful companies also make sure that video conferencing is available on employee desktops. Best-in-class organizations spend about $183,000 on desktop video, while laggards spend about $13,000. It is also important to have interoperability between desktop video and fixed video conferencing and telepresence technology, he said.

"That pervasiveness – the ability to have video conferencing for all employees throughout the enterprise – is an important part of being able to take advantage of video," Park said.

A successful video deployment depends on more than just good technology, however. Corporate culture and corporate resources are also essential, he said.

"Among the best-in-class companies, 81% had C-level executive encouragement to use video conferencing," Park said. "And 71% encouraged employee feedback, so they had bottom-up feedback on how they can use video better. And 73% had dedicated [employees] for video conferencing setup."

In contrast, only 24% of laggard companies had executive encouragement of video use and only 15% used employee feedback to determine whether video was being used properly.

"There's a big difference between those companies that treat [video] as a business tool and those that have video conferencing in the office but don't understand how to align video to their business practices," Park said.

The reduction in corporate travel was an obvious benefit of successful video use because it translates into lower costs for companies. And Park said this also plays into having successful corporate green and sustainability initiatives.

Video success has also been important to companies for acquiring and managing new talent, he said.

"Sixty-two percent of best-in-class companies were using video for remote interviews, so that enhances your ability to look for talent," Park said. "And you don't have to pay for travel to bring them in. And if you have that video, they can work from where they are and still have more human interactions when talking about sensitive or complicated materials."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Editor

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