After YouTube became a household name and Skype's video-enabled chat system gained its massive following, video became a staple of the Internet consumer diet. Now, other streaming video services such as the U.S. Hulu online streaming TV service have hit the mainstream, and companies like Boxee and NetFlix are helping to legitimise video over IP as a viable alternative, if not a replacement, for conventional TV.
Judging from empirical evidence, this trend is about to hit the enterprise in a big way. In the last decade, we have seen consumer technology find its way into the enterprise increasingly quickly. Instant messaging software was a purely consumer product in the late 1990s, but now, enterprises build their communication strategies on it, and IM systems have been tailored specifically for the financial sector, for example. Web 2.0 was once little more than an easy way for teens to share photos and videos. Now it underpins corporate culture among the more forward-thinking companies. The same goes for social networking, which is now being used to find the best contacts to route salespeople into target firms.
How long will it be before the huge consumer interest in online video transfers to the enterprise? According to Gartner, not long at all. The company held its Symposium/ITxpo event in Florida earlier this month, and promised great things for video in the enterprise.
It states that video will gain such traction in the enterprise that a quarter of all the data traffic that workers experience in 2013 will be pictures, video, or audio, according to the analyst company.
Why would these assets be used in an organization? Videoconferencing and telepresence are two emerging trends that will doubtlessly fuel this development. Relatively low-cost, high-definition desktop and boardroom systems make it possible to hold impromptu meetings between cities without wasting executive time (and impeding their morale) with tiresome, time-consuming trips and overnight stays. With travel costs rising, and with journeys becoming increasingly difficult thanks to security measures, video is becoming a viable and attractive alternative.
As time goes on and unified communications continues to take off, companies will find video an increasingly important part of the communications landscape.
How much of this should we take as hearsay, and how much of it should we start factoring into our strategic planning? David Cearley, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, has his own opinion: "Companies should factor these top 10 technologies in their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years," he says. What clearer indication could there be than that?