Enterprises that have moved away from expensive, room-based business video-conferencing systems in favor of easy-to-deploy desktop video tools and cloud-based services have a surprise coming. The ratification of the emerging WebRTC standard for browser-based video will simplify the deployment process even more, making visual communications a reality for businesses of any size.
Rich Costello, senior research analyst for UC and enterprise communications infrastructure at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, shared his insights into how video use will trickle into more enterprises as users grow more comfortable with the technology in the New Year, as part of SearchUnifiedCommunications' series of UC predictions for 2014.
Will WebRTC be a business video-conferencing game changer?
Unified communications functionality, as well as video conferencing, used to be tied to a specific platform that users had to actively seek out and launch. Emerging browser-based video technology standards -- such as WebRTC -- started to make waves last year, and are promising to make visual communications more of a no-brainer for companies. Video technology embedded in a browser will allow for real-time, peer-to-peer voice and video communications. With the ratification of WebRTC due in 2014, users may not even need to download plug-ins or software applications to make it work.
While vendors and application programming interface developers are already celebrating possible WebRTC use cases -- especially for customer-facing companies and the customer service segment -- the standard will still be brand-new for many enterprises this year.
"WebRTC has the potential to be pretty disruptive to the status quo within the video-conferencing space this year," Costello said. "A lot will depend on what video codec standard is chosen for WebRTC -- it'll make a difference as to how [adoption] will take off in the market or not."
Video inching its way into company culture -- slowly
It's no secret that revenues for high-end, room-based business video-conferencing and telepresence systems have been declining over the past couple of years. Cloud-based video services are simplifying the historically complicated video deployment process and making the technology assessable to more businesses, regardless of size. Many enterprises looking to refresh their video infrastructure are leaning toward cloud-based video services that work with legacy video equipment. Businesses starting from scratch with video are also getting their feet wet using inexpensive cloud-based services, a trend that will continue into this year, Costello said.
More on business video conferencing
Will users ever prefer visual calls?
Desktop and small group conferencing on the rise
What's the difference between Web, audio and video conferencing?
Business video conferencing still won't fit into the culture of every company, regardless of how easy it becomes to deploy and use. While video still won't be the primary method of choice for communications in 2014, "the technology is there, and it's getting really easy … [especially] if users want to quickly launch a video call from their browser or mobile device," he said.
Some enterprises might find vertical deployments easier to sell to end users -- like making video a part of one key business application or process for an enterprise, Costello said.
"There are great examples of using video within healthcare environments for surgical procedures, consultants and diagnostic exams," he said. "I think we'll see a lot of growth in vertical deployments for video, and that will help compel users to get on board and push video use in 2014."