Simple Isn't Always Easy With Video, But Can Be Done
The biggest problem with video isn't the moving pictures -- it's the moving parts within the enterprise and vendor organizations.
Our current webinar series title, "Simplicity in the New World of Videoconferencing: Three Key Considerations for Pervasive Video Deployment," captures the paradox at the heart of video deployment and adoption within the enterprise today. In many ways, video has never been simpler; and yet, that simplicity hasn't translated to pervasive deployment. As I learned last week in the first of the webinars, it turns out that while video might have become reasonably simple from a technology standpoint, the surrounding issues are keeping it from being pervasive.
Ira Weinstein, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research, and Andrew Reitter, senior manager of product management at Cisco, teamed up to talk about simplicity in video, and focused on these three issues: purchasing, deployment/management, and user experience. What struck me about their approach is that it wasn't inherently video-centric -- the principles they discussed are the same ones that come up whenever we talk about unified communications, regardless of the media or tool. It's about making the systems easier to purchase, deploy, manage, and use. There are obviously some issues specific to video as a technology, but by now, the biggest problem with video isn't the moving pictures -- it's the moving parts within the enterprise and vendor organizations.
In discussing licensing, Ira emphasized the importance of centralized licensing for the entire environment, as opposed to piecemeal licenses for selected users. He also offered do's and don'ts for purchasing:
- Seek a communication system, not separate islands. In other words, video should be part of the UC system.
- Buy for functionality, not devices or servers.
- Focus on user benefits, not technology requirements.
- Seek solutions that start small, not big up front.
All of these will resonate with those who are trying to deploy any sorts of UC functionalities into their enterprises, and are finding they need to work much harder on user adoption than they'd ever expected. And Ira added a final point on licensing that might seem obvious, but of course everyone knows isn't: "Don't forget to tell your users what you've bought for them. Often they don't know!"
While the adoption issues, as well as deployment and management, might be common to many UC media, the user experience issue is one I think does relate in a specific way to video -- in that many people these days experience video in their personal lives in ways that are very different from the traditional enterprise model. The obvious example is mobility: Mobile video is widespread in the consumer scenario, less so in business.
I asked Ira and Andrew about this. Maybe, I suggested, mobile video just isn't right for business use? It's great to go into a conference room or use a high-quality desktop unit and conduct a video conference with a high-value client. You can avoid expensive travel and meet with the client more frequently, while still offering an impressive meeting experience. But holding a smartphone in front of your face with one hand as you hang out at the airport juggling your suitcase, overcoat, and latte --maybe that's not so effective for business video?
Ira and Andrew were each open to this argument to a degree, though Ira suggested that some enterprises might well find that the inherent power of mobility overcomes it. Mobility "is where they are," Ira said of end users. "Which is in front of the clients, making money." So they -- and others in the meeting -- might accept a different user experience if it means that someone can join a meeting they wouldn't be able to join if they had to be at a stationary video device, while also being on the road, getting business done.
If you missed this webinar, we're going to be presenting it again two more times in the next few weeks -- on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT, and at the same time on Wednesday, Dec. 2. We'll be doing the session live each time -- not a replay -- so you can get your own questions asked and answered. I hope you'll join the conversation; sign up here.