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It's no secret the workplace is changing -- even its physical environment. The new open floor office plans that are in style now have created a burst in huddle rooms, leaving vendors scrambling to outfit the small spaces with video conferencing technology.
Huddle rooms are designed for up to six people to work privately. "The workspace has become more open, and if you're going to do a video conference you have to go into a private space so that you're not distracting to your colleagues," said Bern Elliot, an analyst at Gartner Inc.
A forthcoming report from Gartner, based in Stamford, Conn., estimates huddle rooms in offices will double in number over the next year.
According to Gartner, video systems purchased for huddle rooms will account for 10% of the market this year and 20% in 2016. The same report, set to be released in December, estimates that group video conferencing usage throughout the enterprise will increase 400% by 2019.
Outfitting a conference room with video technology can cost as much as $100,000, so smaller rooms often go without. Now vendors are producing cheaper options for the huddle room.
Introducing lower-cost room systems
Polycom Inc., based in San Jose, Calif., is the latest vendor to release products designed for huddle rooms. Last week, the company unveiled the RealPresenceTrio that combines video, audio and content-sharing capabilities. Users can connect to the Trio with their mobile phone or laptop.
Irwin Lazaranalyst, Nemertes Research
Also last week, Microsoft announced upgrades to the Lync Room System, which can be used in huddle rooms as well. The upgrade brings Lync's user interface in line with Skype for Business, well known by many workers in the enterprise.
Not only are large vendors trying to get their technology into huddle rooms, but startups are, too. Highfive and Blue Jeans Network, both based in Silicon Valley, offer cloud-based video conferencing technology for small rooms.
Another example is Tely's namesake camera. The Tely 200 connects huddle rooms that aren't video-enabled to an enterprise's cloud-based video conferencing service.
The growth in huddle rooms, resulting in the demand for room systems, is a good opportunity for vendors to increase their sales, according to Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Monkena, Ill.
Lazar said less than 15% of companies already equipped with room systems replaced them with newer or different models. "The huddle space is that great untapped market," he said.
Blue Jeans Network updates user interface for video conferencing
Tely extends conferencing to small rooms
Video conferencing deployments vary widely