Recently, video has grabbed an impressive mindshare among consumers. A plethora of video applications including video streaming, video search, video on demand, and video telephony, including mobile video, are experiencing rapid adoption. YouTube is now the number-two search engine in the world; the tablet and smartphone markets are exploding; and video has just surpassed all other applications in terms of network traffic. The next generation of tech-savvy prosumers using some form of video in their personal lives is going to demand the same experience and capabilities in the business environment.
As mobile video gains popularity among consumers, is it likely to also become the next frontier in enterprise communications and collaboration? My colleagues Roopam Jain and Shyam Krishnan took a look at this market opportunity and presented their findings in a study titled: Assessing the Potential for Mobile Videoconferencing in the Enterprise. Here follows a summary of their key observations.
Technologies that support collaboration among users at different locations are growing in demand. There has been a surge in the interest for videoconferencing, ranging from desktop to telepresence to mobile videoconferencing. As mobility continues to become the norm in everyday life and business alike, end users are looking to extend their enterprise communication experiences to mobile devices.
Faster, smarter, and more capable smart phones and the emergence of collaboration-ready enterprise tablets are fueling the interest in mobile videoconferencing. While we believe that mainstream adoption is still a few years away, the demand drivers are all aligned for the market to pick up pace.
The 2010 worldwide shipments of tablets (partially or entirely) used for business purposes was 600,000 units and is expected to go up to 49.1 million in 2015. We project that 90% of the enterprise tablets shipped in 2015 will have forward-facing cameras and will therefore be video-enabled.
Smartphone growth will be explosive. With shipments nearing 263 million smartphones in 2010, that number is expected to grow to about 500 million in 2015. In 2015, it is forecast that 90% of the smartphones will have forward-facing cameras and therefore will be video-enabled, growing up from 35% in 2010.
The move toward 4G will help carriers deliver higher-quality video. Carriers are jockeying for a more competitive position as the mobile industry moves towards 4G networks. As high bandwidth networks become widely available and camera and phone technologies continue to improve we expect to see more mobile videoconferencing on the horizon. However, there are challenges in store. As the usage of both streaming video and 2-way video catches on with users, it threatens to strangle the networks. Recent moves by network carriers to constrain the demand with monthly data caps will be a hindrance in videoconferencing usage.
Despite all the exciting developments on the device and carrier side and the growing need to have a videoconferencing solution, enterprise-level adoption is still nascent and needs to overcome several challenges, including deployment costs, business case, and increasing levels of security for wireless communications. Security issues with mobile technology are going to be a key focus as the market develops. IT will increasingly standardize on a single smartphone/tablet for its employees. IT’s policy on locking down their enterprise mobile device of choice will continue to prompt users to carry multiple devices.
Mobile videoconferencing can potentially support a wide variety of business solutions, from retail point-of-sale to hospitality, banking, healthcare, manufacturing or any custom business application. It will increasingly support team collaboration across the entire value chain to shorten decision making time and enable immediate knowledge sharing.
In today’s context, the main use case for mobile videoconferencing in the enterprise remains remote employee interaction – for the mobile workforce or for employees who need a visual collaboration feature to ensure the “personal touch” during the call. Additionally, mobile videoconferencing offers an extension of traditional room-based and desktop based videoconferencing and leverages existing videoconferencing investments by extending the reach to the mobile user.
In planning a mobility strategy, enterprises should increasingly look at the full spectrum of devices which include smartphones and tablets along with laptops. Providing secure communications on a broad array of devices will be essential. Additionally, users will increasingly look at extending the Unified Communications experience to their mobile devices.
At the very outset, small-scale pilots would provide a good insight into typical usage stats. Mobile videoconferencing needs to be cost-justified, prior to deployment. All the key stakeholders must look at the network as a critical component in the process – developments in LTE and 4G in general, would be key to the success of mobile videoconferencing.
What do you think?
Also check out James Brehm’s blog on mobile video here.
People are going mobile. Businesses are going mobile. Only I am stuck in front of my desk, in my home office, all day long. But I am the exception.
In 2010, Frost & Sullivan surveyed 200 C-level executives and IT professionals across different industries that gave their opinion on various enterprise communications topics. Here follows a summary of key findings pertaining to enterprise mobility and FMC:
- Overall, 68 percent of the participants were aware of mobile extension solutions that extend PBX functionality and UC features to the mobile device.
- Half of the interviewed executives report that their organizations currently use mobile extensions, with usage being higher in the healthcare, IT and financial verticals.
- Businesses appear to be using enterprise FMC solutions widely at all levels of their organizations, and not limiting usage to senior management only.
- Furthermore, 49 percent of participants identified mobile/cellular phones as one of their primary devices used for business communications, whereas only 28 percent use primarily IP phones, and 34 percent choose softphones as their primary endpoints.
- A notable 61 percent of respondents using mobile extensions state that those are very important tools for the daily operations of their organization.
- Improved collaboration and productivity across geographically dispersed teams, cost reduction, and employee mobility enhancement are cited as the top three most important benefits of using enterprise FMC solutions.
The so-called “prosumers” have been using their personal mobile devices to conduct business for many years now. What is new today is the increased focus on extending the capabilities of corporate communications and collaboration solutions to these consumer mobile devices. The obvious benefits are cost savings (as mobile business calls go through the PBX) and increased productivity (through more ubiquitous access to PBX functionality, presence, IM, voicemail, conferencing and other applications). But challenges abound. How do you standardize mobile device support throughout the organization if everyone is allowed to bring in their favorite device using different OS and apps? And how do you handle security, management, and the various costs involved in extending IT support to a larger variety of endpoints?
My colleague Alaa Saayed just completed a study on world enterprise premises-based FMC solutions. The study focuses on “advanced” FMC solutions, defined as follows:
“Advanced enterprise FMC solutions are all FMC solutions that were created to work with advanced smartphones to go beyond the typical touch-tone interface and the access number prefixing of a basic PBX-to-mobile extension. Typically, an advanced FMC solution requires a “client application” or a mobile user interface to deliver call control and PBX features (such as single-number reach, single voicemail, corporate directory access, etc), as well as other advanced features and capabilities such as mobile and corporate IM/presence, unified messaging, conferencing, and dual-mode voice call handoff (manual or automatic) between networks.
The solutions usually consist of an advanced client software that sits on the mobile device and a mobility network element such as a server/controller/router/appliance/gateway that connects the corporate platform with the mobile client. If the network element physically sits in the enterprise network and connect to the company’s PBX, the solution is called a premises-based enterprise FMC solution. If, on the other hand, the appliance is located in the service provider network and FMC is offered as a network service, the solution becomes a hosted/network-based enterprise FMC solution.”
The study revealed that, in 2010, the overall worldwide enterprise FMC market reached 3.33 million FMC units shipped (counting only those installed or activated) – a 32.7 percent year-over-year growth. While this growth is significant, the actual growth levels were somewhat lower than what Frost & Sullivan had anticipated. Frost & Sullivan expects the compound annual growth rate of enterprise smartphone units shipped with an FMC solution to be around 53.0 percent over the forecast time period. In terms of advanced enterprise premises-based FMC solutions, on the other hand, software clients shipped in 2010 reached 909,011, a 51.0 percent year-over-year growth.
These types of clients make around 27.2 percent out of the newly activated FMC solutions in 2010 – a share that has considerably grown from previous years.
In his study, Alaa Saayed cautions enterprise customers and vendors as follows:
“Today, choices are so many and diverse that it is very difficult for an enterprise customer to distinguish what solution best fits its needs. In fact, over the last years, enterprise FMC solutions were partially eclipsed by a flood of other enterprise mobility solutions such as team spaces and other collaborative applications, enterprise social medial tools, and enterprise tablets with built-in mobility software clients – among others. It is hard to disagree that all these new emerging solutions enhanced the overall enterprise mobility portfolio, but it is also hard to deny that nobody knows if many of these products/applications will succeed, following the same growth patterns of their consumer counterparts.
What is, therefore, the negative outcome of this trend? On one hand, some businesses may deploy enterprise mobility tools that they will never use as expected. On the other hand, many telephony providers will invest time and effort in developing and promoting enterprise mobility applications and devices that may never reach their expected levels of adoption and revenue.
The truth is that while some solutions might succeed, others will simply remain a hype. Frost & Sullivan cautions that hype could result in chaos that may distract enterprises and enterprise mobility vendors from their initial objectives.
To avoid costly mistakes and future-proof their investments, businesses need to carefully evaluate the various available enterprise mobility solutions and deploy the ones that best address their current and future needs. In order to leverage the enthusiasm around enterprise mobility, vendors need to stay focused on enterprise mobility solutions that provide measurable benefits and help businesses to identify the most appropriate solutions for their specific needs and existing infrastructure.
The study will be published in February 2011. It provides further insight on market and technology trends, in-depth demand analysis, detailed competitor profiles and a market forecast in terms of units and revenues.
Other related research includes: Predictions for the Enterprise Tablet Market and North American Smartphones Market. You can also check out our free webinar archives: Applications Bring Subscribers; Revenue Brings Developers – Which Mobile Operating Systems Will Pay Out Big for Developers Through 2014? And also: Premium Mobile Enterprise Applications – What’s Working in North America?