What’s Driving Video Conferencing in the Enterprise?

The video calling industry is moving at a fast and furious pace these days, and LifeSize is always trying to gauge the needs and motivations of organizations that are increasingly gravitating towards video conferencing as a viable business tool. In his article titled “4 Trends in Enterprise Video Conferencing,” ReadWriteWeb’s Klint Finley references a survey we conducted recently at the Midsize Enterprise Summit West (MES) conference in San Antonio. Of the nearly 100 attendees surveyed, 51% said they currently use video conferencing in their organizations, while the majority of those who do not plan to within the next 12 months. What is driving these organizations to deploy video conferencing and what are the top obstacles? Here are the results of our survey along with one Webtorials conducted recently, which was sponsored by our partner Avaya:

  • The top drivers for deploying video conferencing included saving travel time/costs (98%), improving collaboration (94%) and increasing productivity (94%). Webtorial’s found similar results, as summarized by Larry Hettick, Principal Analyst at industry firm Current Analysis, in Network World’s Convergence & VoIP Alert: “Counting those who qualified video conferencing market drivers as either ‘major’ or ‘significant’, 75% of respondents found that the technology improved working relationships, 67% found it reduced costs of doing business and 67% found it improved responsiveness.”

It’s nice to see business benefits up there with saving travel costs, which has been the main driver for years as we all know. We like to think LifeSize is driving video conferencing adoption by providing a range of options at the best quality at reasonable cost, which facilitates more and better communications. Ira Weinstein, Senior Analyst and Partner with Wainhouse Research, recently commented on the advent of improved collaboration and productivity as key considerations for video conferencing in a Phone+ article: “Travel savings are certainly important, but doing more with less, super-charging the global workforce, more effectively leveraging subject matter experts and enhancing customer/partner contact are the real value plays here.”

  • Despite plans to deploy video conferencing over the next year – and nearly 100% agreement on the top benefits – only 35% said they plan to increase their video conferencing budgets in the next 12 to 18 months. About 24% said they are not planning to increase their budgets and 41% were unsure.

Could it be a reluctance to increase capital expenditures in this economy or a perception that video conferencing is just too expensive (i.e., these folks are associating it with traditional, budget-busting telepresence deployments)? Indeed, the Webtorials survey found the top three obstacles to video conferencing included equipment costs (46%), having to go to a special room to use video conferencing (44%) and bandwidth costs (37%).

Spending $300,000 to tie employees to a dedicated conference room is not flexible or practical enough anymore – if it ever was – which is why LifeSize offers a variety of flexible options for HD video conferencing that provide a true-to-life telepresence experience without busting the bank.

  • When asked where video conferencing is taking place in their organizations, respondents indicated that the conference room is king at 73%. About one-third said employees are conducting video calls from the desktop (video web chat), in a personal or executive office, or in a dedicated video conferencing/telepresence room.

More and more of our customers are seeing increasing requests from employees to have some kind of video conferencing from home. We are also seeing more use of “huddle” or collaboration rooms where employees go to have quick video chats when needed.

  • Finally, when asked the maximum number of video conferencing participants in their organizations, 56% said most video calls have five or more participants, while 44% said most video calls in their organizations have four or fewer participants.

The conventional wisdom in the industry seems to be that most video calls are with four or fewer participants. One respondent revealed that video calls in his organization have more than 500 participants. Others indicated about 30, citing classroom or training scenarios. One even uses it in a courtroom. We maintain that if you have that many participants on a video call, you are sometimes better off using some kind of recording/streaming technology such as LifeSize Video Center.

Are these results representative of what’s going on out there? What kind of video conferencing trends are you all seeing in the enterprise? Leave a comment or send us an e-mail.

On a more personal note, we’d like to thank the attendees of MES West for filling out our survey and also for voting LifeSize as Best New Breakthrough Technology!

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