Recently Wainhouse Research, the leading market research and analysis company for the visual communications industry, has released its annual “Enterprise Videoconferencing Endpoints and Infrastructure Products Forecast”. This report estimates market size and gives a five year forecast for the video conferencing market. And I agree with WR that if you’re involved in the videoconferencing market (or plan to be), this is a must read.
While I won’t get into the details of this 30 page document, I found a few trend graphs to be very interesting.
For starters, here’s the 5 year projection for multi-codec systems, or telepresence in layman terms:
As you can see, we are in the midst of a great rise in popularity of telepresence systems, but this climb will not last long and will basically slow down to a stop by 2014.
I would suspect that the whole video conferencing market is expected to slow down, but then I looked into the single-codec systems, aka “traditional” video conferencing systems, and the numbers are quite impressive:
According to WR, the market is expected to continue to grow even more rapidly in the upcoming years, selling 600,000 endpoints a year by 2015. A recent GigaOm report by Lisa Pierce quotes an industry review that estimates the cumulative growth of the global video services market between 2009 and 2014 at 42 percent (8.4 percent per year).
Goodbye Telepresence Rooms, Hello Video Conferencing
So what do I make of these trends, that appear at first sight to be contradicting?
First, I’ve been saying all along that telepresence is not an affordable solution. While the ROI might prove to be positive for large enterprises, their number is limited, and so the telepresence market will never be more than just a niche. As can be seen above, at its best the telepresence is selling 3500 new systems to the market. That’s a very low number for such a big hype.
On the other hand, the proliferation of video calling will push use across the board in enterprises and homes, on desktops and handsets, and so “traditional” video conferencing systems, in meeting rooms across the enterprise, used for making meetings work, will become more and more popular, and there are plenty of room to grow there, with millions of meeting rooms still vacant of visual communications.
Just like dear Dilbert in the comic strip above, we all know conference rooms are bottle necks in every enterprise. Leaving the conference room when possible, by using personal video conferencing systems, is a trend I expect to see more and more – this will drive the utilization of the video conferencing infrastructure up, and in return will boost productivity.
One sector that is expected to get hurt by the commoditization of video is the “Executive” systems market. While video conferencing is still regarded as an “executive toy” by many, the fact that any employee in the organization will soon be able to conduct a video call from his desk will makes the need for executive system a thing of the past.
The WR numbers show just that:
As you can see, while executive systems are currently on the rise, in less than two years they are expected to start declining in sales and I expect them to continue declining after 2015.
More Video Calling, Less Physical Borders
The bottom line of the WR report is, IMHO, that video calling is about to explode in the upcoming years. And with the increase in popularity, the way we consume it will change – from high-end executive “toy” hidden in dedicated rooms, video calling will spread to our desks, our handsets, our homes, making visual communications a second nature.