Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Videoconferencing poised to transition from experiment to asset as enterprises weigh Benefits and technology matures

FRAMINGHAM, USA: IDC predicted that 2009 would be the year of the great enterprise videoconferencing experiment, and despite the macroeconomic challenges that enterprises faced, the worldwide market (including telepresence) managed to achieve 16.7 percent growth over 2008.

With the global economy now in recovery, IDC expects the enterprise adoption of videoconferencing to accelerate, driving revenues for videoconferencing equipment from $1.9 billion in 2009 to more than $8.7 billion in 2014.

"The videoconferencing market is in the midst of a transition – from meeting over video as an option of last resort to an alternative that's preferred over traveling," said Jonathan Edwards, research analyst, Enterprise Communications Infrastructure.

"The cultural shift toward video as a good enough 'across the table' replacement for in-person meetings will accelerate swiftly through the next decade as more companies utilize the technology to accelerate decision making and time to market as well as improve team collaboration, customer service, and employee work/life balance."

IDC believes three factors will shape the enterprise videoconferencing market over the next five years:

* Technology capability and market awareness. Although there is growing awareness of videoconferencing's capabilities, the technology has only recently begun to offer the quality, productivity, and level of engagement per interaction that are the keys to enterprise adoption. IP- video technology has been fundamental to this shift.

* Bandwidth availability. The most significant impediment to videoconferencing adoption is bandwidth. The overall costs of investing in videoconferencing remain high, with significant network upgrades required.

* Interoperability. There are multiple levels of interoperability that will take time to address (system type to system type, legacy to next generation, vendor to vendor, carrier network to carrier network, business to business, etc.), but all will significantly impact adoption and help accelerate enterprise adoption.

It is unlikely that videoconferencing will become an impromptu communication tool that is seen as an alternative to instant messaging or voice over the next five years. Instead, IDC expects the usage of videoconferencing to be primarily driven by scheduled meetings, corporate communications, and training activities.

To help overcome cultural barriers to adoption, enterprises need to leverage self-service capabilities for videoconferencing assets while encouraging its use as an alternative to travel.

"Ultimately, enterprises must consider videoconferencing in the same context as larger IT initiatives and service delivery, such as virtualization, unified communications, and how video will be used beyond conferencing," added Edwards.

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