Enterprises leaning toward managed video-conferencing services

Enterprises are turning to service providers for managed video-conferencing services to mitigate risk and lower operational costs.

Managed video-conferencing services are rising in popularity as many enterprises look to service providers for the expertise and the resources to administer and support their video-conferencing and telepresence technology.

Selecting a provider for managed video-conferencing services isn't simply a matter of price and convenience. Much like video-conferencing equipment vendors, which vary in their features and functionalities, managed service providers also tailor their offerings to specific needs.

An enterprise must pay attention to how its employees are communicating and who they are communicating with. This collaboration profile is a big factor in selecting the right provider for managed video-conferencing services.

Managed video-conferencing services shortlist: What does the enterprise need?

Before researching vendors and service providers, enterprises should identify who will be using the video-conferencing technology and what services the users will need, said Ira Weinstein, partner and senior analyst at Wainhouse Research.

"Choosing a certain vendor because another department I know uses them is easy, but it's not necessarily the right way to go," Weinstein said. "[Enterprises] must first understand how they are going to use video conferencing and then decide what features are needed."

The IT department should analyze how employees collaborate internally, as well as how they communicate with people outside the company. This analysis will steer the enterprise toward the right managed video-conferencing services, said Henry Dewing, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"It really depends on the types of meetings being conducted and who is communicating," said Dewing. "Then, you can look at the vendors and service providers behind it."

Employees who require person-to-person communication may only need a desktop video service, while employees who must communicate more often with more individuals internally as well as externally may require a room-based video-conferencing or telepresence service.

Larger enterprises will typically require higher-end managed video-conferencing services from a provider than will a small or medium-sized business (SMB), Dewing said. A large enterprise that conducts frequent meetings and communication among headquarters, remote offices and business partners could require a service provider to bridge the calls, organize meeting schedules and change the resolution within a telepresence room while the meeting is taking place, he added.

"On the high end, the point of video conferencing is to make it look like everyone is sitting in the same room, and some enterprises will need a service provider to manage the camera angles, audio and lights during the meeting," he said.

Return Path, an email certification company, selected Vidtel for managed video-conferencing services because of its point-to-point video and multi-party video calling capabilities, which can integrate with Skype and Lifesize.

"Return Path has 10 worldwide offices and a number of remote employees, so the most important thing for us is the point-to-point video calls," said Matt Blumberg, CEO and chairman of Return Path. "Interoperability with Skype and Lifesize is also critical, as not everyone in the organization has a video phone."

Interoperability with other video-conferencing equipment from multiple vendors is becoming an increasingly important feature for managed video-conferencing services, especially for enterprises who want a provider to take over management of legacy equipment. Video managed-service provider Teliris recently added this capability to Lentaris, its cloud-based video managed-services platform.

"Traditionally, Teliris has not provided a managed service for other manufacturer's endpoints," said Jeff Tench, chief marketing officer of Teliris. "Many enterprises have a mixed bag of other providers, but Lentiris allows us to manage the entirety of the video estate for an enterprise in a unified fashion."

As enterprises begin to reexamine video as a business and productivity driver, they are taking inventory of their existing services and equipment, noted Tench. "[Enterprises] want to get the most out of their investments, and they are starting to ask how they can bring an expert in to better manage [video conferencing services] for the enterprise."

More on managed video conferencing:

Guide: evaluating video-conferencing service providers

What the enterprise can expect from video service providers

How to plan and manage video-conferencing bandwidth

Managed video-conferencing services: Lowering risk for the enterprise

A video-conferencing failure can embarrass an enterprise and disrupt business, Weinstein noted. "There is a need for experts who can make video conferencing work immediately, and who are available 24/7 and trained on the right equipment. Enterprises are paying to outsource the stress."

And while enterprises have choices when it comes to managed video-conferencing services, such as hosted, managed on site, or managed in the cloud, interest in outsourcing video management is on the rise, Dewing said.

"Video technology is changing so rapidly, there are uncertain standards and the enterprises might not have certified employees that know how to use the equipment," Dewing explained. "It's an enormous technology risk to deploy video today because there are so many factors up in the air."

Deploying video conferencing is a high-risk endeavor for the enterprise; it can mitigate the risk by using a video-conferencing service provider that can step in with more expert resources and better established relationships with vendors. "That's the kind of risk mitigation enterprises are willing to pay for," Dewing noted. 

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer

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