As Matt Brown wrote earlier this month, video is quickly becoming a core technology component of the workplace experience. Henry Dewing predicted the resurgence of investment in video conferencing from the conference room to the desktop in 2007 based on affordable HD quality video, more user friendly interfaces, and better interoperability between systems. We're not yet at the tipping point of widespread adoption, but we're moving there rapidly. And when we do, the primary source — and destination — for video content will be the devices broadly provisioned to employees: the desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones from which employees will create, publish, and interact with video. Consider some of the trends we've seen accelerate over the past six months:
- The number of touch points for video is increasing. Video is becoming a feature on every collaboration platform as the lines between categories of messaging and conferencing software are blurred. It is also now an expected feature on smartphones and tablets. Employees in the workplace of the future will be able to move seamlessly between IM, voice, screen sharing, and video to choose the appropriate channels for collaboration.
- Buyers want to connect their videoconferencing infrastructure to the desktop. "How do we integrate with Lync?" is now a common question as organizations want to maximize the utility of their videoconferencing investments and enable users in rooms to talk with users on laptops. They are even looking at new services to connect existing rooms with Skype, facilitating easier video calls in B2B, B2C, and remote worker scenarios.
- Clients are showing renewed interest in streaming video for communications. We're getting more questions from clients about webcasting and virtual events, YouTube for the enterprise -type portals, and self-service video creation tools. These technologies not only grant organizations the ability to scale the reach of video communications to every employee, but empower employees themselves to generate and to socialize their own video communications.
Why should you care about empowering employees with video on the desktop? Desktop video is not a replacement for in person meetings and has a weaker link to cutting T&E. When video is part of the workplace experience, however, employees are more engaged. Our data shows employees who regularly use desktop videoconferencing rate themselves more highly on measures of productivity, satisfaction with IT, and on feeling empowered with the right technology to do their jobs.
Video will eventually be something employees come to expect in the workplace. But the shift to broad adoption will take time. Video adoption is the result of a culture change as the number of touch points for video in the organization increases. It often starts with a executive mandate to use video to cut travel. It's reinforced by giving employees access to many types of video content, e.g., streaming video of company meetings, on demand video for training, and incorporating live video into specific business processes.
In anticipation of this coming tidal wave of video, IT must shift from managing multiple silos of video technology to a converged strategy with considerations for network loads, system integrations, media storage, content management, and usage policies. Unfortunately, these are areas which most organizations aren't ready to handle with regard to video today.
My colleague Henry Dewing and I will be conducting a session on the different states of enterprise video maturity at Forrester's Content and Collaboration Forum on September 23rd in Boston. Whether you're in a company of video power users or are looking at introducing video capabilities to the collaboration stack, we'd love to hear what you're doing and discuss what strategies you'll need to prepare for the next level.