Cisco’s Big Bet: The Democratization of Video
Cisco's drive to deliver video everywhere is well timed. The transition won't happen overnight, but video will be a mainstream collaboration tool sooner than people think.
This week Cisco kicked off its annual collaboration summit and announced a number of products that support the company vision. There were many new product announcements (Eric's article posted earlier has all of the details) that support collaboration, with the main theme cutting through all of them being video. There's no one out there that should be surprised by this, as Cisco has repeatedly stated that video is the "new voice" since the company acquired video pure play vendor Tandberg.
This raises the obvious questions: Is video the new voice and, if so, why video and why now? We've all heard the proclamation in past years, that "this is the year of video!!" and it never happens. Think back to Y2K, 9/11, market crashes, etc. We talk about video and then it never happens. This time though, I do think it's different and for many reasons:
* Cultural barriers around video have finally fallen. Remember the days that people said, "Who would want a camera on a phone??" The answer is, teens that like to snap pics of anything and everything and immediately post them to Facebook. Then when YouTube came into our lives people asked, "Who would post videos of themselves??” The answer is, teens that like to see themselves on camera. Then we asked, "Who would want a Flip??" The answer is the same. Now the majority of people asking this question are old people that still prefer to use the phone and e-mail over social networking tools. Also, many of those teens and college kids that I referenced are now in the work place. This new current generation of workers and those in the future will expect it.
* Video is already everywhere. From a consumer perspective, we have near-pervasive video. Facebook, ichat, laptops, iPhone’s, Flips, digital cameras, YouTube, video blogs, Flikr, Apple TV, the Nintendo DSi, Xbox, Sprint’s EVO, Skype, etc. In case you hadn’t noticed, video is everywhere--except the workplace. In the work environment, we’ve been scared to deploy video and catered to the luddites that didn’t want it. But the younger generation will influence the collaboration tools we use like my generation did with email many, many years ago.
* Technology improvement. There should be no question that the video systems today are easier to use than previous generations. Cisco's been using the term "as easy to do as a phone call" but in many ways, video should be easier. Sure, point to point phone calls are easy, but three way calls, even multi party conferences with PIN codes and security codes are a hassle. Video should basically be click to call, or even easier, push to call.