Execs adopting consumer video chat

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Are business users finally turning en-masse to video communications? A report from Research Now and technology developer Global IP Solutions (which is being acquired by Google) believes that they are. It found that the majority of 1200 "senior business professionals" surveyed in the US, China, Japan and South Korea had used video conferencing and video chat art work. In the case of China, this was almost 90%.  What is perhaps surprising is that the around 80% of video communications users were using consumer applications from Skype, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo compared to just one in five using hardware-based system (i.e. corporate video conferencing systems). This means they are proactively picking tools to help them do their job better.

The reasons cited for using video communication were also enlightening.  In South Korea, 46% see video communications as a positive way to reduce travel time - the report's authors point out that with horrendous traffic problems in Seoul, this response is not so surprising. But in the other countries surveyed, it was less about travel and more about enriching existing communications (like a substitution process). Users choose video communications rather than audio/email etc because it provides a clearer communication and understanding, helping to build relationships, and lets you see the subtle changes in a persons face - are they lying, are they bored, do they misunderstand what you are saying?

Obviously, using consumer apps on networks not optimized for video does lead to some concerns over quality. What they dislike tends to be delay (35%), followed by freezing, (26%). Poor sound (21%) and poor video quality (18%) are less of an issue -  this is despite academic studies demonstrating that audio is a much more important issue in ensuring a productive video meeting.  The report suggests also that with more people experiencing HD television at home, and using HD video camera, their expectation about video and sound quality is raised.

Looking at adoption, the report found that 40% of US business professionals surveyed indicated that their company will be deploying a video communication solution in the next 6-24 months. In China, the adopting is more aggrieve, with 80 percent of those surveyed stating their company would be deploying a video solution within the next 18 months.

These figures are echoed by ABI Research, which believes that high-end video, telepresence, telepresence-as-a-service like this one from Orange Business Services, which lets you rent conferencing time in an existing facility. 

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.