The Video Conferencing Industry Turns the Corner
Video conferencing technology has been with us for a while. It seems only lately, however, that organizations are beginning to “get” it. Perhaps it took a global economic downturn that crimped travel budgets, or perhaps the technology has just gotten easier to use and the results of better quality. Whatever the reason, the use of video conferencing by organizations across almost all industries seems to be exploding.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the growth is crossing barriers, surpassing expectations and breaking sales records.
“Across business, higher education and health care, videoconferencing has gone from a stilted experience on a telephone with a screen to a smooth, integrated part of Internet communications,” wrote the WSJ’s Rachel Nielsen. “Today, videoconferencing is giving users on-the-go access from mobile devices, and overcoming the hurdles of disparate systems and devices as it continues a transition from hardware to software to cloud computing.”
One study by International Data Corp. found that global enterprises shelled out $2.6 billion last year for room systems and network hardware alone, and this eyebrow-raising number doesn’t even include software or cloud services for videoconferencing sessions.
It used to be about a glorified Web-cam, a microphone and a videoconferencing application, but today there is a whole host of peripherals and services that go along with it. There are “immersive” systems that network an entire room with sound and cameras, so one group of people can interact with another group of people in high definition. There are systems that can bring users on mobile devices into the mix, systems that can network hundreds of people at the same time, and – thanks to new standards – solution that can allow video conferencing across browsers with no need to download applications in advance.
Now that we seem to have gotten across the “comfort point,” or the point where video conferencing stops feeling odd and unnatural and starts feeling like a valid way to interact with other human beings, the market will only grow bigger and wider. According to recent Frost & Sullivan research, the market for video conferencing systems and services together stands at $3.2 billion today, and the analyst group predicts this number to double to $6.3 billion by 2016. Beyond that date, look for technology innovations to carry the market forward even further to the realms of science fiction: holographic imaging and beyond.
Edited by Alisen Downey