Video IS Gaining Ground – And Avaya Appears Ready With Scopia
“Video Conferencing is here – period.” I know that looks like a BOLD statement, and the practicality that it has been challenged as a mainstay for years now could very well challenge that statement. However, practically speaking, if your organization and enterprise are not at least developing a plan around video conferencing as a fundamental way of communication, then think again. If your organization is just “dipping in the water” as user demands arise, it’s time that one took a more strategic approach to this area.
Video has now become part of the conversation. For our enterprise customers, a possible need and practical application for video is here, whether in a desktop or meeting room format. In Healthcare it can be visiting with a patient and reviewing real-time patient medical results over a distance. In the Legal profession it can be a video deposition being recorded over distances. In Research and in IT, it can be a means of connecting specialists for answers to complex issues over large distances in an instant. In corporate America, it is a way of reducing travel costs significantly and enhancing the customer experience.
Why Video Will Become a Part of Our Culture
According to several major analysts, video WILL take hold as a mainstay over the next 36-48 months and will become (finally) a part of our culture. There are many practical reasons for this:
1. There is continuous pressure to rightsize one’s organization in today’s market and increase margins to the greatest extent possible. Although a videoconference may never replace an on-site meeting (although close with Telepresence and HD video), the ability to connect with a colleague over great distances in real-time, without a lot of planning, plane ticketing and logistics, and a need for speed-to-market or sharing specialized internal resources is compelling. Practically speaking, travel costs far outweigh video conferencing costs.
2. Bandwidth continues to get “cheaper” and video CODECs are getting better. Some video CODECs can communicate a conversation at less than 100k, close to the same bandwidth as a G.711 non-compress voice CODEC, making video practical over a Wide Area Network. Broadband and converged networks are here – IP is now everywhere and is flat rate. Same bandwidth today runs approximately 20-30 percent less than just 36 months ago.
3. Video Conferencing pricing has plummeted – we have seen video conferencing systems costs go down by 20 to 30 percent in the last 36 months, making video conferencing a very cost-effective way to hold face-to-face meetings.
4. Web conferencing and conference calling are established, practical, standard practice for meetings today. Most corporate users spend at least two meetings average per week based on an invite request via e-mail and “inserted” into one’s calendar. Video Conferencing is now the next logical step in the evolution of the virtual meeting environment. Enterprise users can now leverage these technologies working anytime, from anywhere, face-to-face.
5. Consumer-based technologies lead the way – Facetime and Skype, as two examples, are connecting the consumer in a practical, painless way, connecting relatives and friends across large distances in an instant, from just about any device. People are getting used to video as an alternative to voice-only calling at ZERO per minute costs.
6. UCC (Unified Communications and Collaboration) integrates video as part of the UCC platform, and in effect “free” as compared with a VoIP-PBX only just 24 months ago. Historically, once technologies have entered the market at a lower cost point, migration, acceptance, and growth of such technology begins to take place. Mobility, for example, moved the “needle” once the rates of long distance dropped below $.10 per minute. The latest smartphone technologies and “flat” rates from the larger wireless carriers have encouraged its use even more, connecting everyone in a 24x7 anytime, anywhere world.
7. 1080p HD video is here, producing a video signal on par (or better) with any televised show at 720p HD video in the consumer market. SD video is no longer a practical, even acceptable way to communicate any longer.
8. QoS is Critical – Like voice, video does require Quality of Service, prioritized in front of any data traffic, to be practical and “enjoyed” and used by the enterprise user.
Video conferencing market growth, despite a 2012 downsize (primarily in larger Telepresence-type video conferencing units), should be robust through 2016. According to several analyst groups, video conferencing will grow as follows:
- Video Conference-based enterprise solutions are expected to grow in revenue to $32.2 billion through 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 19.1 percent.
- IDC reports that revenues for enterprise Video Conference applications are expected to increase to $67.3 billion by 2016 with a growth rate of 24 percent.
- Global Video Conference traffic is forecasted to account for around two-thirds of data center traffic by 2016.
The biggest deterrents to video conferencing acceptance until now have also been practical:
- Video Quality at the Desktop – Video quality at the desktop, until recently, had just not yet “arrived” to make video an enjoyable experience. Sure, you can see the other individual, but is it a truly immersible experience, or one that you are consciously (or subconsciously) tolerating. Unless video provides the “sense” that you are speaking with an individual either next door or in the same room, video will have difficulty growing at a significant rate.
- Desktop units are co-located with standard meeting room environments and need to be scheduled, like any meeting room, in advance.
- Ease-of-Use Factor – the single largest complaint I get from enterprise users is that setting up a video conferencing call can be difficult at best.
So Why Video, Why Now, and Why Avaya?
With bandwidth and CODECs making video a more enjoyable experience, with vendor investment in video technologies by major players and partnerships among all UCC manufacturers creating better ease-of-use factors, and video now becoming available on any device, the compelling argument for video is here.
One of the manufacturers is Avaya with their Radvision Scopia offering. I had a chance to personally use the Scopia Desktop solution recently and the experience was just that – enjoyable and easy to set up, with no prior knowledge of the Scopia product. I also had an opportunity to experience the Scopia XT4000 room-based solution running at 1080p, H.264 full HD over a 2Mb shared Internet pipe to Tel Aviv on a trade show floor competing with many other vendors for the same bandwidth at other booths. The experience from my perspective was astonishing. I really believed for just a brief moment that the individual I was speaking with (Tel Aviv) was in another room on the trade show floor just several yards away. The rep I spoke with had to “prove” to me that her mobile device was not 12pm EDT and 7 hours ahead of time, 7pm her time. She also showed me her candy bar was in Hebrew.
The Avaya/Radvision Scopia product line is getting several significant accolades from Nemertes, Info-Tech, and Frost & Sullivan among others. Scopia is viewed as a market challenger by most, and its value scores are rated very high among leading competitors. Scopia was given the 2013 North American desktop video conferencing product leadership award from Frost & Sullivan, beating out competitors in four of five categories for competing solutions.
The desktop solution, in particular:
- Provides the product on a per in-use port basis, and not end point. For Avaya, this is significant. This strategy offers unlimited mobile and desktop clients for “free” with the cost embedded in the per-port cost
- Provides HD video and voice and manages bandwidth utilization using standard and proprietary CODECs
- Can record events
- Can provide viewing of up to six individuals (practically) simultaneously (and up to 28 total)
- Provides the ability to raise one’s hand and take over the leader’s desktop as necessary
- Integrates with device calendars for meeting scheduling purposes
- Supports iOS, Android, including mobile device and tablets
- Embeds firewall traversal, a critical security components when using a public Internet venue or when Federating
- Offers Telepresence interoperability
A free trial of the desktop Scopia experience is available at TryScopia.com.
Other Avaya Room-based solutions, comparatively speaking, are equally impressive and beyond this article.
So video is here and strategy planning video around video conferencing and collaboration is here. Time is of the essence between now and 2016 for your organization to embrace the technology. Avaya’s Radvision product offering is one of several major players to consider. In fact, I call it the “dark horse” of video conferencing race going forward, and until recently not considered as a significant player in the video conferencing space. The gloves are off, as they say, and the Avaya offering is major and one of the solutions an enterprise should consider, or minimally evaluate when looking at desktop and room-based video conferencing solutions.