Solution providers named IP video-
conferencing among their fastest growing technologies, ranking it third behind VoIP and unified messaging in Everything Channel's 2008 State of Technology: Networking survey.
The push from ISDN to IP-based video-
conferencing is the prime reason behind the surge, solution providers said.
"Videoconferencing used to be its own thing, running over ISDN on a dedicated network. Today you can run it over your traditional LAN and WAN," said Christopher Labatt-Simon, CEO of Albany-based D&D Consulting Ltd. "Because it's gone IP, it's gotten easier. It's easier to grasp, implement and maintain, and the total cost of ownership is less today than ever."
Solution providers surveyed said, on average, that 19 percent of customers have adopted IP videoconferencing, and that nearly 5 percent have adopted HD videoconferencing. Meanwhile, on average, more than 28 percent of customers are planning to adopt IP videoconferencing this year, while over 7 percent plan to adopt HD videoconferencing.
One of the companies responsible for video's growing status is Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif., which has thrown itself into the space with a number of acquisitions and technology launches. Chief among them was the introduction 18 months ago of Cisco TelePresence, a line of HD video systems that promises an immersive, life-size videoconferencing experience. The product portfolio ranges from full-scale $300,000 room systems to the Cisco TelePresence 500 personal system, introduced in May 2008 for a list price of approximately $34,000.
More than 51 percent of the solution providers surveyed said Cisco is the company best able to deliver the IP videoconferencing products that meet customers' business needs, while nearly 22 percent named Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash. More than 16 percent named long-time videoconferencing player Polycom Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., while more than 5 percent chose its rival, New York-based Tandberg.
Nearly 76 percent of solution providers said the primary driver of IP videoconferencing sales over the next six to 12 months will be customers' needs to improve productivity and collaboration.
"If you look at most organizations, the No. 1 complaint on why things take so long is because people can't communicate effectively, so anything that improves communication will increase the productivity of the organization as a whole," Labatt-Simon said.
With the rising price of gasoline--and airline tickets--customers' needs to cut travel costs also play big, with more than 70 percent of solution providers choosing that as the top sales driver for IP videoconferencing.