Does Your Mobile Device Do Video?
You need to focus on which devices to support; what applications to enable both short term and long term; and how does Unified Communications fits in.
Everyone knows that mobile device use is exploding. In 2011, more smartphones and tablets will ship than PCs, according to Morgan Stanley. Video also is becoming the dominant form of communication on mobile devices--growing by more than 100% per year to make up more than 66% of mobile data traffic by 2015, according to Cisco's widely cited Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Data Traffic Forecast. With this in mind, anyone looking to deploy any new video communications functionality in their enterprise better have mobile device support clearly in their sights.
Before getting into the details, the most important consideration to remember is this: Know what you are trying to accomplish! Too often people jump in with both feet and simply say "we need to support mobile devices." As we will see, that is a recipe for failure. Know what applications you are trying to enable and the business value behind them, and the result will be a much more successful deployment. Also, it is very important to consider the user experience prior to attempting to support certain applications. If your users cannot use it, or if it takes too much training, it will not be successful.
Then, keep in mind that users will want to both create and consume video with these devices, so it is important to consider both, since in many cases they will use different software to accomplish each task. And be aware that this is may be a moving target. For example, Adobe recently announced that they will no longer develop Flash Player for mobile devices. This has a huge impact on the way that many enterprises will roll out video streaming to Android and other non-iOS devices. We will consider this in detail in a future blog post.
To give an example of how users create and consume video in the consumer world, let's consider the iPad. The three things that people do the most with video on the iPad are:
1. Use Facetime to video conference with friends and relatives (and to a lesser extent, work colleagues)
2. Use the Camera app to record videos from the front and back cameras; they then play them back locally on the device using the same app and/or upload to YouTube or other video sharing sites
3. View streaming video from websites in HTML5 or in a specific app such as the YouTube app
As you can see, there are three different applications to do three different tasks.
Consumer usage is bleeding into the enterprise--affectionately known as the "consumerization of IT". Therefore, your users are going to want to do similar things in the enterprise. And, in the enterprise, there is one more thing to consider--Unified Communications. Unified Communications is extremely important and strategic for enterprises looking to roll out this functionality, so device support for the UC clients is very important as well.
In an ideal world, the UC client would provide all of the three applications listed above in a single app or web-based service. In practice, that is not the case today, and probably will not be for some time now. So enterprises will need to create a plan to support these applications on the different devices and will need to create a strategic plan that allows them to focus on:
1. Which devices to support
2. What applications to enable both short term and long term
3. How does Unified Communications fit into the mobile strategy, if at all
Let's consider each of these in detail:
1. Which devices to support--No one likes to do more work than they need to--especially overburdened IT staff. Therefore, it is unrealistic to try to support every mobile device that exists. Enterprises therefore need to take an inventory of what devices they have deployed today, what devices they plan to deploy in the future, and what their strategy is regarding BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
Future support is a very key consideration, especially because you need to consider that it is going to take at least several months (if not longer, depending on the size of the organization) to roll out this functionality. So, if your organization still has a lot of Blackberrys, but your vendor says they are not going to support Blackberrys for three months, and you are going to take three months to roll out the services, and the organization plans to phase out the use of Blackberrys next year...well, you get the picture. It probably is not worth it.
In most cases, attempting to support video on older phones is a losing battle. So at a minimum, we would recommend sticking to SmartPhones and Tablets. For example, a good starting point might be:
• Android devices with OS 2.2 and higher
For many organizations, those are reasonable choices that will cover the large majority of their users. And most of the vendors have solutions for these platforms today.