Conferencing and collaboration solutions surrounding video conferencing and unified communications (UC) have been in the spotlight for a while now. Although the market excitement is not reflected in the deployment figures, the technology has lived up to its billing in a different way. VC has helped slash costs significantly and now, the market is seeing strong demand for a variety of endpoints and hosting services.
"While the primary reasons for deploying video conferencing are eliminating travel expenses and facilitating meetings with remote participants, its full benefits will be apparent only when, it is embedded in everyday work practices," noted Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst, ICT, Mark Hickey. "The regular use of video conferencing facilitates productivity gains through enhanced user participation, the inclusion of visual components like document and multimedia sharing and enabling specialist use cases like medical examinations."
Video conferencing is more conducive to collaborative work than simple audio conferencing. For instance, it is easy to become a distracted listener on a conference call since body language is irrelevant. Virtual presence, however, keeps one alert.
Further, the ability to share and annotate a document during a video conferencing session, rather than after, streamlines the workflow and keeps everyone on the same page. The solution also allows users to store documents in the same accessible place, such as a cloud, thereby pre-empting the need to exchange several versions of the same document or work off different sheets.
As the number of remote workers and the amount of business being performed on mobile devices is increasing, conferencing will be vital to companies’ operations, as it can help expand the number of tasks that can be performed out of the office. Document annotation, multi-party conferencing, and business to business or business to customer conferencing make it possible for workers to closely match their out-of-office productivity with in-office productivity. Facilitating conferencing on mobile devices also reduces the need for office space, helping companies save on expensive real estate.
"Despite its many advantages, users have valid concerns about video conferencing security and interoperability, especially as the bring your own device (BYOD) trend adds to the number of devices that systems must sync with. To assuage these fears, system vendors are creating interoperable solutions and software vendors are offering UC platforms that connect different systems, such as Microsoft Lync 2013," observed Hickey. "Many solutions also work with free services such as Skype, offering breadth of scope to companies looking to connect with those that do not have enterprise-ready solutions."
However, high-grade bandwidth as a pre-requisite for investment will continue to be a restraint for the video conferencing market because infrastructure and network design affect video quality. As a result, remote locations the very places where video conferencing could provide the greatest benefits still remain underserved.
Companies with disparate operations and headquarters, such as the oil and mining sectors, are the ones that can make the most of video or UC solutions, but their investment decision will largely be based on infrastructure quality. As such, the roll out of high-quality infrastructure in rural and remote locations is of increasing importance to video conferencing providers that wish to break out of the boundaries of the dense urban markets.
"For now, cloud computing offers flexibility and increased productivity gains by combining video with file sharing as part of a UC solution," concluded Hickey.
"Although it will be a while before video becomes as easy to use as a phone, the lower costs and increased functionality of video as part of UC solutions will boost adoption rates in 2013."
If you are interested in more information on Video Conferencing: Capturing Productivity Gains, please send an email to Joanna Lewandowska, Corporate Communications, at joanna.lewandowska[.]frost.com, with your full contact details.
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