The Video Conferencing Market is A-Changin’

by Jacey Overton, Marketing Communications Manager

Come gather ’round peopleBob Dylan
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown

And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.


Last Thursday at Interop NYC 2010, moderator John Bartlett of NetForecast Inc. thought he’d take a stab at aligning Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ tune with communications technology by inviting members of the video communications industry – including Polycom, HP, LifeSize and Cisco – to discuss some of these changes and what they mean for the future of the technology and for video conferencing buyers today. It is a bit funny how some of the same ideals discussed in the song seem to depict the current climate of perpetual change we’re now experiencing in the video conferencing industry – from interoperability and open standards, to acquisitions, new players and an overwhelmingly growing need for people to communicate face to face.


Here are some highlights from this panel discussion:


If your time to you
Is worth savin’

For obvious reasons, the answer from the panelists was a resounding ‘yes.’ Our time is certainly precious and worth saving. Video conferencing is becoming more mainstream than ever, thanks in part to decreased price points, better quality and increased adoption rates by consumers, aka, the “Skype effect.” But video shouldn’t just be about saving the amount of time we spend in airports and on highways, but also about collaboration and working smarter. Everyone agreed that the work space is changing. And while it is difficult to truly measure productivity, everyone agreed that it’s up to the video manufacturers to focus on integrations with the other guys’ products. Our greener attitudes, increased globalization of business, and improvement in networks were also cited as reasons why the time is right for video.


Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide

The chance won’t come again

So, who will be the market leaders in video? Is it all just marketing spin? There will obviously be losers and winners here, but is change really coming?

While there are a variety of players currently in the space, the panelists were somewhat split on whether or not they think the industry will continue to be segmented by type of solution (software applications for the PC vs. room-based systems vs. telepresence.) Some vendors are of the mindset that one company can do one application extremely well. Others cite that the reason they are now investing in the technology is because they want to take that leadership role – to deliver all video applications to all people. Recent acquisitions and partnership announcements in the space – Cisco/Tandberg, Logitech/LifeSize, Avaya/Skype, HP/Palm – have definitely changed the landscape. But for the most part, everyone agreed that this is proof positive that video is the future of communications, and that’s why so many big-name companies are jumping onboard. Everyone sees the growing need for this technology.

Several panelists discussed the outside-in approach to video infrastructure networks, doing away with the old mindset that heavy investments in infrastructure have to come before endpoints. Adapting to the customer’s real-world needs is what really makes a change for the better.


Video Conferencing Panel at Interop NYC 2010

From left: Paul Cantwell, VP of Federal Sales, Lifesize, James Fairweather, Vice President – Worldwide Sales, Halo, Unified Collaboration, Hewlett-Packard, John Antanaitis, VP, Product Marketing, Video Solutions Group, Polycom Inc., John Bartlett, Voice Video and Data Application Performance, NetForecast Inc.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’

Is the market push for product strong enough to sustain interoperability? Will non-compliant vendors be left behind?

While the recent industry marriages are confirmation that this technology is here to stay, it’s also proof that the need for interoperability between vendors is undeniable.

Several panelists remarked that “saying your products interoperate with other manufacturers” and “actually working to test and support those competitors’ products on an on-going basis” are two different things.  Much like the song lyrics, if vendors don’t embrace interoperability, the question is, will they get left behind? While the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF) is working on defining true interoperability between vendors (HP, Polycom, and Logitech/LifeSize are all founding members) several panelists said we’re a long way from it.


Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land…
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand

Will Skype, Logitech, Cisco, Google, etc. change the landscape? Will we get to a living room experience that rivals what we’ve come to expect at the office?

For the most part, we can all agree that quality video conferencing is no longer reserved for fancy telepresence rooms anymore. People are going to demand the same quality as room-based solutions on the desktop PC, in the meeting room and on-the-go. Seamless simplicity of video – anywhere, for anyone, seemed to be a point that the panelists agreed upon, but the network is always going to be the challenge in providing quality.

5 Responses to “The Video Conferencing Market is A-Changin’”

  1. Hipolito Koo

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  2. white

    It’s challenging to acquire knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you realize what you are talking about! Thanks


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