Irwin Lazar
Irwin Lazar is the Vice President and Service Director at Nemertes Research, where he manages research operations, develops and manages...
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Irwin Lazar | July 28, 2014 |


Video Is Everywhere, But Is Anyone Using It?

Video Is Everywhere, But Is Anyone Using It? Video conferencing is quickly becoming ubiquitous, from the meeting room to desktop, to mobile device. As a result, usage is growing as well.

Video conferencing is quickly becoming ubiquitous, from the meeting room to desktop, to mobile device. As a result, usage is growing as well.

One of the big questions that I get in my conversations with both sellers and buyers of video conferencing equipment is whether the increasing pervasiveness of desktop and mobile video conferencing capabilities will reduce demand for room-based systems. Additionally, they wonder if anyone is actually using the video conferencing capabilities provided by unified communications clients and Web conferencing applications.

With that in mind, as part of the Nemertes 2014-15 Enterprise Technology benchmark, in which we gathered data from more than 200 end-user organizations, we sought to better understand the changing dynamics of the video conferencing market and provide answers to each of these questions.

Despite the fear among some video conferencing marketers that room systems would become less relevant, the opposite appears to be true – growth of mobile and desktop video conferencing capabilities is increasing, not decreasing, demand for room systems. Just 7% of participants said they were reducing room systems in their organizations. Nearly 52% said they were increasing them, and the rest were largely remaining flat.

For those increasing room system deployments, the average growth rate is 32% for the year. That equals an awful lot of codecs! What's driving this growth? User demand. Much as Metcalfe's law argued that the value of a telecommunications network grows as the number of connected users grows, the same appears to be true for video conferencing. Providing the capability for those physically unable to be in a conference room to participate in a video conference increases the value of the investment in room systems. Furthermore, it provides a better meeting experience for remote attendees, who are often relegated to second-class meeting status because of the lack of visual interaction with other meeting participants and the difficulty of interjecting themselves into discussions.

Despite the perceived benefits of ubiquitous access to video conferencing, there's still a long way to go before video use becomes pervasive. IT leaders report that less than 5% of their employees on average regularly use tablets for video conferencing. Less than 2% regularly use desktop video conferencing, and for the majority of companies, less than 1% regularly use their smartphones for video conferencing.

However, participants project that all of these endpoint options will see increased utilization in the next year driven by greater access to video conferencing software, increased user demand, improved ease of use, and executive mandates requiring video conferencing for internal and external meetings. Cultural factors such as growing use of consumer services like Apple's Facetime and Microsoft Skype are leading to increasing demand for equivalent company-provided services.

For those not increasing their video conferencing investments, the lack of user demand is the primary reason. Other factors include video being a low priority, lack of available budgets to support investments in video, not seeing the value in using video versus voice and/or Web conferencing for meetings, and a lack of a go-forward strategy. Just 12.5% cite cost of video conferencing as their primary inhibitor to wider use, reflecting the rapidly falling cost of video conferencing endpoints and infrastructure, the rising availability of cloud offerings that greatly reduce upfront capital spend, and the increasing availability of video conferencing as a built-in feature of UC platforms.

Another area where companies are investing in video is to improve business processes. About 44% of participants told us they currently have plans to evaluate video for specific business use cases such as field worker support, physical monitoring, telemedicine, or customer access to experts. Those with a more aggressive view toward technology adoption (bleeding edge or leading edge IT cultures) are far more likely to have programs underway.

So are video conferencing and the room system dead? Hardly. Video conferencing use is growing, driven by increasing access to integrated desktop, room, and mobile endpoints, a growing end-user demand for video, and an increasing interest in using video conferencing to improve business processes.

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