Tsahi’s recent post on what telepresence is got me thinking about the way enterprises currently use video conferencing and how I see video conferencing in the future enterprise.
It is no secret that video conferencing today is mainly limited to conference rooms. If your company is global, or at least has a few branches that are located far one from the other, you probably have some video conferencing endpoints in your conference rooms. If you have a big meeting, with people from far away, you might even be using the equipment. But that’s about it.
Cisco TelePresence System 3200. Source: Cisco.
2009 was very interesting in that respect. It was a year that video conferencing finally got a well-deserved focus, but also a year where high definition video and audio finally left the conference rooms and started appearing on people’s desktops.
It doesn’t really matter if it’s a software client you’re running on your laptop, like our SCOPIA Desktop, or a hardware endpoint you put on your desk, like the SCOPIA VC240, and who cares?!. You can now enjoy a high quality experience, not really different from those fancy telepresence systems (remember what Hans Chrisitian Anderson taught us?).
If you examine any of our other means of communications, none of them require us to leave our desks and go into some room, just because that’s the “communication room”. Just imagine your life without an e-mail client on your PC, where you have to go to some e-mail room to check your mail and compose messages. We use e-mail clients on our mobile phones, from the coffee shop, from the airport, from home – is video conferencing that different?
Well, it isn’t. Once you get used to having a video conferencing client everywhere – on every PC, on your mobile phone, and, yes, in every meeting room – you realize that this is the way it should be. That is if you believe that video calling is a valid means of communications, if not an important one.
I believe that if video conferencing will become valid, and the recent year has certainly proved we’re going there, dedicated video conference rooms, that – as Tsahi put it – “can only be used for video conferencing” have no future.
With all due respect to the excellent quality and homogenous environment, these are things that can be solved in other ways, which will eventually infiltrate the mainstream video conferencing endpoints.
And if you regard these telepresence benefits, you are left with only disadvantages and barriers for adoption. After all, fancy video conference rooms are not anyone’s target, they are simply a means. A means of communication. And if we can achieve a much better level of communication and collaboration in the organization, as well as between organizations, there shouldn’t be any reason to stay locked in those telepresence rooms.
But you don’t have to take my word on it: On one hand, a recent Wainhouse Research survey showed that most organizations have less than 100 room system deployed. In fact, 34% have less than 25. On the other hand, a recent Gartner report says 200 million workers world-wide will run corporate-supplied video-conferencing from their desktops by 2015, compared to 7 million in 2008.
This means that in a couple of years everyone will have video conferencing on their desktops (or desks). This means there will be no real motivation to leave the desk and go to the meeting room.
Unless, of course, it’s a meeting, with lots of people from the same physical location. Then, just like we do today with any other means of communications, we will go the room, spend the first ten minutes on chit-chat and go ahead with the conference, with video (using a REAL room system) or without.