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It's finally, actually time for video to be pervasive

Even though it's been said every year, 2014 is the one when we'll see significant change in video as a collaboration tool.

As a mainstream industry, video communications has been around for well over two decades now, and it seems that every year we hear that “this is the year that video becomes pervasive.” And then it doesn’t happen.

However, I’m here to say it again, this time with confidence - 2014 is a year of significant change and one where we finally see video become a mainstream collaboration tool.

Towards the end of last year, I ran a video deployment strategies survey and asked respondents what the usage of video would be over the next 12 months, and 90% reported there would be an increase. Of that, 27% reported an increase of over 25%, putting us well on the way to pervasive video. I also believe there are a number of technology trends that finally make it possible to make video communications a ubiquitous business resource. These shifts are:

  • Software enablement of video. Many organizations today are looking to make video pervasive. Software-based video solutions offer a higher level of scalability and flexibility compared to hardware platforms. The enhanced agility means software-based solutions can be spun up and run virtually, bringing greater scale to video at a price that won’t break the bank. In the survey I mentioned above, 52% of respondents cited “easier to use” as a reason to adopt software-based video. Another 42% feel software-based video made it easier to make B2B calls. These are both important steps on the path to pervasive video.
  • Personal video systems as well as software clients running on laptops and PCs. Traditional room-based systems are great for scheduled meetings, but not so hot for ad hoc-type of conversations. Think about making calls. Imagine if you had to run to a conference room and make sure you book it for the time needed to make a call. How likely would one be to even try and call someone ad hoc? Not likely at all. The personalization of video has made it possible for anyone to communicate with anyone else in an ad hoc manner.
  • Video as a service. For video to be pervasive, it can’t be a technology that only the largest companies can deploy and manage. Scaling video requires small organizations to be able use it as well. For most smaller organizations, especially those with limited IT staffs, video as a service is an ideal way to use video communications at a reasonable price with limited risk.
  • Mobile video. High-speed wireless networks (both Wi-Fi and 4G) combined with increased processing power on mobile devices has made it possible for individuals to communicate using video over tablets and smartphones. This means workers can now have collaborative sessions when working from hotels, airports, or anywhere else they might be.
  • Integration with unified communications platforms. Video used to be deployed as a technology that was siloed from every other business application. However, the integration of video into leading UC solutions, such as Microsoft Lync, has made it easy to invoke video sessions and has brought a level of consistency of user experience that’s unparalleled in the history of video.

While all of these trends have made it possible to make video communications pervasive, trying to wade through all of the options can be a challenge. Video used to be fairly simple to deploy. Dedicated endpoints were connected to dedicated back-end infrastructure and connected over a dedicated network. The simplicity, though, came with a price, and that was inflexibility, inefficiency and a high cost.

Today, IT leaders are faced with many more options. Hardware platforms, software platforms, virtual appliances, cloud resources, mobile video, PC based video, Wi-Fi, cellular, broadband, and the list goes on and on.

The key for organizations is to understand how to deploy each technology to maximize the value of the different form factors and different platforms. Additionally, pervasive video is dependent on more than just technology. Business leaders need to understand how to integrate video into business processes.

I plan to cover these topics and more during an upcoming TweetChat on January 16th called “Is it time for your organization to make video pervasive?” If you want to learn more about this topic, please join me as I discuss the technology changes we have seen in the video industry over past two years, as well as provide some examples of process improvement to finally make video pervasive.

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