The video conferencing market is now very mature. The technology is now available to have high quality A/V communication over distance; and at a price point that makes it a viable option for both SMEs and large businesses.
Over recent years there have been several advances which have enabled the market to grow substantially. Contrary to popular belief the growth of the industry is not only driven by the desire to save money on transport costs. There is a great deal more offered by the solutions; video conferencing can be even more productive than face-to-face meetings!
In this piece we will take a look at some of the advances that are driving the upsurge in the industry.
Desktop Video Conferencing
Increasing numbers of companies are integrating video conferencing into their daily activities.
Cisco Senior Vice President & General Manager of their Collaboration Technology Group, Rowan Trollope, talked with Bloomberg’s Corey Johnson on the rise of video conferencing. Cisco are a major player in the market, and Trollope explained that 38% of the company employees work at a different site from the people that manage them.
It used to be the case that video conferencing was limited to a conference room. This somewhat limited the integration of the technology into business practice, and the impact that it could have on productivity. Cisco have desktop-based video conferencing to enable collaboration between staff. These desktop solutions mean face-to-face, focused discussion, with the ability to loop in multiple contributors. This kind of setup signals a major advancement in the flexibility of the technology.
Mobile Video Conferencing
Video conferencing technology has moved with the times. Solutions from companies, like Lifesize, facilitate collaboration not only between employees in offices, but people on the go too. Video conferencing advances mean that these days collaboration can be done through smart phones, tablets and laptops. Every employee has in their possession the tools to link up with colleagues and clients wherever they are in the world; as long as they can get on the Internet.
The consumer technology we have available to us these days is of sufficient standard to enable high quality, rich communication. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a quad core processor and a 16 GB camera. Front facing cameras are also sufficient for high-definition video. The Samsung Galaxy S5 offers an even greater specification.
High Definition Video Quality
At Cisco almost 90% of employees work from home at least one day a week. The reality is that conference calls and strategy meetings are incredibly difficult over the telephone. It is hard to collaborate effectively with limited visual information. Our brains simply aren’t built to work without the facial cues provided by the people we are interacting with. On top of this we end up spending half our time trying to work out who is talking, and then mentally accessing their agenda.
Advancements in smart phones, tablets, laptops and video conferencing monitors mean that telecommuting can be as effective as in person collaboration. High-definition video enables participants to perceive micro-expressions and get a full picture of a conversation, even when it involves multiple people at different locations.
Home Office solutions, provided by companies like Polycom, make work from home days maximally effective. Such solutions enable high-definition audio, high-definition video and simple content sharing.
Improvements in the Internet
There is no doubt that one of the key drivers behind the advancements in video conferencing has been the improvement we have seen in the Internet. Following the Ofcom auction of the 4G spectrum in the UK back in the spring of 2013, we are seeing high-speed mobile Internet roll out around the country. Over the coming year we’re going to see 4G availability hit somewhere around 99% of the UK.
In parallel to this we have seen fibre-optic broadband rolling out to more locations, with availability now to over 60% of the consumer and business population as standard. Even ADSL broadband has improved markedly, with ADSL 2, and ADSL 2+ doubling and tripling the old standard ADSL speeds.
With the Internet getting better and better, we are going to see an even more seamless flow of heavy data, and higher quality A/V communication through video conferencing.
Another consequence of better Internet has been the rise in Cloud-based business solutions. Video in the cloud is a video conferencing advancement that is making solutions more secure, and easier to implement in organisations.
Virtualisation means that deployments are more easily scalable, and that IT departments have greater control over compliance and security. Leading providers of cloud-based video conferencing are Lifesize and StarLeaf. Their solutions remove the requirement for IT support, offer wherever, whenever collaboration, and are remarkably affordable too.
The advances in video conferencing technology mean that more companies can benefit from the dynamic and collaborative environment now afforded by the solutions. Whether used for in-house collaboration, boardroom to boardroom intra-company negotiation, or remote work facilitation, there is now an option for any company looking to enrich their communication.