For the past half a decade, global networking companies such as Cisco, Polycom and Avaya have been trying to create a profitable business model around video-conferencing. Despite their efforts, however, there has been no mass adoption of the technology. There are millions of boardrooms around the world, but very few are video-enabled because of the high costs involved.
But things are beginning to change. With executives using multiple smart devices such as mobiles and tablets, video-conferencing is not an inside-the-room phenomenon anymore.
Moreover, video-conferencing solutions are today being hosted on the cloud (remotely) and are being offered on hire at affordable rates. Small and medium enterprises, in particular, can hope to benefit from this.
In a report, Philipp Karcher of research firm Forrester's notes that firms are recognising the opportunity "to use video-conferencing to avoid travel or to at least make virtual meetings more engaging".
Cisco is trying to make things work for the masses, with solutions such as its small office phone system technology. This system enables smaller companies, or small offices of bigger companies, to stay connected using the internet.
Avaya, on the other hand, is focusing more on affordable solutions that allow for mobility, especially on handheld devices. It is also offering solutions to manage companies' entire communications, not just video-conferencing.
Business and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan valued India's video-conferencing market at $83.2 million in 2011. Polycom was the leader with a 50.2 per cent market share.
"Polycom has led the industry in terms of offering compelling video solutions to customers in various sectors," says Benoy C.S., Director (Information and Communications Technology Practice) at Frost & Sullivan (South Asia & Middle East).
"Our goal is to move video-conferencing from rooms to desktops and mobile devices as well," says Neeraj Gill, Managing Director (India and SAARC) at Polycom. "Our aim is to make video ubiquitous."
Video-conferencing on the go. That's where the world is headed.