The Impact of Skype and Google+ on Enterprise Video Conferencing

by Kyle DeWitt on July 26, 2011 · 4 comments

in ScanSource Communications,Videoconferencing

In a recent conversation about Video Tele Conferencing (“VTC”) options, the questions were posed to me, “What do you think about Google+?  Do you think it will affect sales of video conferencing equipment?”

Having worked with the Polycom personal and room video conferencing systems now for a few years, I have felt comfortable comparing the user experience of the video aspects of Skype, Google Chat, and the various other IM engines  (the SoHo video clients) with that of a true VTC system, like those manufactured by Polycom, Cisco, Avaya, etc.  Typically, the SoHo video clients supported only point-to-point calls, used proprietary video codecs, and provided a low-quality video image.  It was an easy sell to show the benefit of dedicated video conferencing equipment for enterprise-level communications, especially considering there was almost NO interoperability between it and the SoHo options.

Now we see major changes to this landscape unfolding.  Skype was purchased by Microsoft and is being integrated into Facebook.  Google has launched Google+ with “hangouts” which allow multi-party video conferencing.  Companies are beginning to host software-based video conferencing applications in the cloud.

The line between SoHo video conferencing and Enterprise VTC is starting to blur.

Is it possible that enterprises will start to adopt these mainstream social media-based video conferencing solutions in lieu of the more expensive, dedicated VTC equipment?  One thing is certain:  it is a question that they will not be able to avoid.  As these consumer-level products continue to be released into the market, and into mainstream social media outlets, more and more users will be exposed to them.  Employees will begin to request the same efficient method of communication in the business that they have at home.

Or will the boom of video at home products drive the demand for video into the enterprise bringing with it an increase in video conferencing unit sales?

This post was written by

Kyle DeWitt is the Director of Technical Services for ScanSource’s NA Communications segment, based in Greenville, SC. He has over 10 years of experience in distribution for converged products and is a regular contributor to The Source on unified communications, and various technology discussions.

Learn more about this topic at scansourcecommunications.com >

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick Miller July 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Nice post…and interesting since I’ve been playing around with G+ lately (although not w/the hangouts). As a general rule, I’ve never known many “consumer” products to be quite on par with “commercial,” however it does seem anything that Google puts its name on tends to be pretty awesome. BTW, when you put “google” as a tag, does that mean that that a search on any and everything would return your post? =)

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Kyle DeWitt July 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I agree Nick. In the past video through the consumer products was a “toy” people played with at home or on their mobile devices. Recently, Google has made a push to replace corporate e-mail systems (Notes, Exchange, etc) with their hosted e-mail. This brings a lower cost, and lower tech e-mail solution to small, middle, and large business. Once the employees have been Googlized, what’s to stop them from adopting (or wanting to adopt) the other consumer Google products? I fully suspect hangouts to become a significant part of intra-employee communications.

Look at ScanSource’s own social media focus. Most employees are active on Facebook and once Skype is implemented there, will we need conference rooms any more?

I suspect what will happen is that all of this personal video use will spur more room system setups/sales as more people become introduced to effective communications through video. Polycom appears to follow the same reasoning and has predicted more than 80% increase in corporate bandwidth usage in the next 3-4 years. I think it’s going to be much, much higher than that even.

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