Gartner predicts that by 2015 there will be over 200 million corporate paid desktop video conferencing users worldwide. This is not only evidence of the growth potential for the market, but also shows that innovation is driving video conferencing beyond the boardroom to the desktop, making it much more accessible to the masses. With this shift in focus from the executive to the desk-worker, the industry mindset will also have to change. Up until now, the industry status quo has been that video conferencing is expensive and exclusive, and very much the preserve of big business. The market is dominated by a small number of long-standing global players which have traditionally made their money out of executive room systems and, as such, the focus has been on selling a select number of high quality and expensive telepresence suites. But times are changing and a wealth of innovation from smaller, more agile players is starting to disrupt this market approach.
This year, large global players have shown an understanding of this shift and they are responding. The rising popularity and sheer size of the market is providing incentives to put innovation at the forefront of the future strategy. New market entrants, such as Vidyo, have made personal telepresence attractive from a cost perspective and accordingly, many companies are now looking to extend video communications to all employees. The big players understand that their dominant market position and market share will eventually be lost if they don’t adapt to serve this new and growing customer base.
So video conferencing is finally moving into the mainstream – but why now? Business communication demands a certain level of reliability and employees need to feel that logging into a video conference is as easy and dependable as picking up the phone. Until now, that hasn’t been the case, so the uptake has been slower than expected. But the technology has finally reached a level of sophistication to provide the quality and reliability expected of day-to-day enterprise communications.
Understanding what businesses really want and need from video conferencing has taken time and huge strides have been taken recently to make this technology applicable to everyone through the desktop. The next step is to ensure that the industry is prepared for this explosion of personal telepresence and that businesses are ready to capitalise on the benefits it provides.
The channel will play a critical role in helping to introduce personal telepresence to the business world. Part of this role will involve turning around the misperceptions and reservations that people have had about video conferencing technology in the past and explaining how the softer benefits of personal telepresence translate in to productivity gains. Fast moving businesses need technologies that are quick to deploy, easy to access and use, high quality and extremely versatile. Most companies are also keeping an eye fixed on costs and don’t want major upfront costs wanting to plan major investments that require dedicated space and minimum users. They want video conferencing here and now on the desktop.
There is a huge opportunity for the channel to look beyond the major players when considering video conferencing as times are changing now that companies are realising that high quality, low cost personal telepresence is possible on every desktop. There is a pioneering sense of innovation in the video conferencing market right now as these emerging vendors look to partner effectively with the channel to provide the training and support they need to be able to sell flexible video conferencing technologies and services. In the short term, resellers can drive sales by approaching potential customers with agile solutions that can transform enterprise communications and don’t require a huge upfront investment. In the longer term, this will help the channel to lay the groundwork for a time when companies are faced with managing devices and next-generation services such as video in more complex cloud and distributed computing environments.
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