Joachim Henrard of BT explains why video is booming and how companies can deploy video conferencing to support their growth strategies.
What is driving the boom in video?Video is clearly undergoing a major evolution. At this point video is responsible for about 30% of global IP traffic but analysts predict that by 2014 it will account for 80-90% of global traffic. That’s pretty impressive, especially when you consider that global IP traffic is growing by more than 30% annually.
This growth is driven by a number of factors, some in the consumer market such as internet TV, but there are also a number of important evolutions in the enterprise market. Video conferencing, for example, has been around for a long time but it never really took off until immersive telepresence systems became available on the market.
Telepresence was a great leap forward because the user experience is so amazing. The immersive experience, the feeling that you are really ‘present’ in the meeting really succeeds in driving user adoption. We certainly see this at our clients, whose telepresence systems are utilized at 40-60% of the time. Compare this to the older legacy systems that on average are used about 10% of the time.
User adoption is important because it determines the extent to which companies are able to valorize their investment. Most companies invest in videoconferencing technology to reduce travel spend and thereby also reduce their carbon footprint and improve the work-life balance of executives. Those benefits will obviously only accrue if people actually use the technology.
There’s more to it, however, than a travel replacement. Increasingly, we’re seeing companies integrate video conferencing into their core business processes. Tommy Hilfiger is a case in point, in the way they created a virtual fitting room that enables their design team – based in Amsterdam and New York – to collaborate much faster and more efficiently with the manufacturing team in Hong Kong.
We think this trend will become more pronounced as companies start prioritizing growth again. At our clients we see how videoconferencing is being used to speed up M&A decision making, to serve customers in new markets where they don’t have an extensive presence yet, to deploy key people more speedily and efficiently, etc. The impact can be pretty dramatic.
Think about it, with videoconferencing you can deploy an expert in five different locations in a single day. If you had to fly that expert to those locations it would take days if not weeks, and you’d lose a lot of flexibility. This ‘expert on demand’ model will change business processes in numerous sectors: think healthcare, retail banking, automotive, consumer goods, in fact there are cases in all sectors.
What are some of the key trends in the videoconferencing market?
Telepresence started the video conferencing wave, but companies are pushing video conferencing deeper and more broadly into their organizations. As a result they’re looking for more flexible systems, systems that have fewer technical and infrastructure requirements, so that a much greater proportion of employees – including mobile workers – can use the technology.
That’s driving demand for desktop based systems that rely on HD cameras. And next in line will be mobile devices: smartphones and tablets. Already users can schedule videoconferencing sessions using their smartphones. Soon they’ll be able to participate in conferencing sessions using their mobile devices.
I think the most important trend in videoconferencing today is interoperability. Many companies have a mix of technologies in place – for example, telepresence, legacy
SDN systems and desktop-based systems. Obviously these systems need to be able to talk to each other. Furthermore, as the use of videoconferencing becomes more widespread so companies are looking to connect to key suppliers and customers.
At BT we’re working hard to address these needs. With our service wrap we’re able to connect a range of different systems. And we’ve created alliances with other network providers such as AT&T and TATA so that we can connect companies beyond their private clouds.
For example, we recently demonstrated our capabilities by setting up a video conferencing event that linked 20 locations in the U.S. and the U.K. using different technology suppliers, equipment types and network connectivity. Videoconferencing – like the telephone and email – will become ubiquitous. It is becoming the new dial tone for business communication. Solving the interoperability hurdle is a natural step in that evolution.
Biography Joachim Henrard
Joachim Henrard is Head of Convergence and UCC Portfolio BT Benelux. Currently responsible for the Convergence and Unified Communications strategy with an end-to-end product and proposition responsibility.
He worked for 13 years within the INS/Professional Services organisation where he ultimately joined the executive team of former CEO Dominic de la Pena. Joachim played an active role during the INS acquisition by BT and integration of the company within the BT Professional Services organisation. Passionate about new technologies and innovation.