Unified communications systems boost uptake in video conferencing

Over the next few years growth in video conferencing will be mainly driven by increased adoption of video conferencing as part of unified communication (UC) solutions as well as penetration of video systems among small businesses.

That is the view of Frost & Sullivan, whose ‘European Videoconferencing Endpoints Market’ report states that the European video conferencing market was worth $518 million last year, an increase of more than 20% on the previous 12 months.

“The need for companies to reduce their travel costs while maintaining communication with their workers and clients will drive the European video conferencing endpoints market,” notes research analyst Iwona Petruczynik. “Increasingly stringent environmental policies imposed by the European Parliament will also promote market development.”

Enterprises are increasingly aware that video conferencing can be used to reduce travel and accommodation expenses and minimise staff downtime as well as accelerating the decision-making process and enhancing teamwork among dispersed workforces.

The challenge facing vendors and suppliers is that while it is relatively easy to quantify the financial benefits of lower expenditure on flights and hotel rooms, the return on investment in terms of improved teamwork and shorter project cycles is harder to put a figure on.

Another factor preventing large scale investment, according to Frost & Sullivan, is that adoption of video conferencing is largely dependent on the human element. The effort required to change established work behaviours and substitute live interaction with video communication remains a major restraint for adoption.

ABI Research reckons the relationship between UC and video conferencing is symbiotic, with the latter driving growth in the premises-based UC market. According to the research firm, this market is set to reach $2.3 billion by 2016 following growth of 22% last year to $674 million. That expansion heralded a market recovery that began in the second quarter of 2010 and has accelerated since then.

The need for newer communication platforms has been growing among enterprises as their transactional boundaries become extended and businesses become more complex, diverse and distributed, says ABI. Along with fixed-mobile convergence, video collaboration has emerging as a critical application among the growing number of mobile employees demanding seamless access to enterprise resources as well as deeper and more productive meeting experiences irrespective of their location.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.