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Key Trends in the Web Conferencing Market

The Web conferencing market is poised for significant growth, but that doesn't mean it's not changing. Indeed, leading vendors and smaller players alike are focusing on creating increasingly easy-to-use, low-cost solutions to move the market toward maturity. My colleague Roopam Jain recently published the latest Frost & Sullivan research on the Web conferencing market; here is a look at some of the key trends.

* Though department-level buying is still strong, and line-of-business managers continue to purchase Web conferencing with their operating budgets, IT is pushing to standardize on enterprise-wide solutions. Still, line-of-business managers continue to have a significant influence on IT strategy and often come to the decision-making table when it’s time to select a vendor.

* The integration of enterprise software and social networks is clearly the next big trend in enterprise (and consumer) communications. With the growing use of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, Web conferencing and UC vendors are now providing integration with social networks to change the way employees interact with colleagues and customers, and to create a stickier user experience.

* Conferencing vendors are supporting the growing need for mobile communications and collaboration. In addition to releasing soft clients that sit on the most popular handheld devices, such as the iPhone, Android-based smart phones, and Blackberry, tablets have emerged as a new form factor for mobile collaboration.

* Customers are increasingly asking for videoconferencing as part of their Web conferencing services. Web conferencing vendors that provide desktop video integration are reporting higher usage rates, especially for applications like virtual classrooms, training, and customer-facing events. And with the next generation of smart phones and impending arrival of 4G, video on mobile devices is fast becoming a reality, making that market the next hot thing for conferencing providers.

* Thanks largely to improved quality and reliability, seamless audio-web integration, and advanced features, VoIP has gained traction over the last year, as users look for ways to cut back on large monthly audio conferencing bills. SMBs are the most avid users of VoIP as part of a Web conference.