Videoconferencing set to boom?

"Video is about to really take off," says Simon Dudley, video evangelist at LifeSize.

The spread of smartphones, tablets and virtualised infrastructure is providing fertile ground for the spread of videoconferencing, according to Mr Dudley. Where it was previously the domain of large enterprises and government departments, high-quality video calling is now available to a wider audience.

Although the technology has been around for about 20 years, we're now approaching a situation where a suitable endpoint device is almost ubiquitous - around 50% of Australians have smartphones, and that figure is expected to reach 90% within two years, he said.

And there's clearly a demand for videoconferencing, as one third of Skype calls are video calls: "people definitely want it," he told iTWire, adding that "the younger generation are completely comfortable with [videoconferencing]."

Mid-market companies probably don't have the human or technology resources to implement videoconferencing internally, but service providers such as LifeSize make it easy to adopt. Such a company might not want to use videoconferencing internally, but they do want to be able to communicate with suppliers in that way, especially those in different countries.

Such organisations now have a choice between million-dollar telepresence systems at the high end and the sometimes questionable quality of Skype video at the other, Mr Dudley said. That choice, if you hadn't guessed, is LifeSize's hosted video service.

Another area where videoconferencing can play a part is to support teleworking, he suggested. It serves a dual purpose, helping to reassure managers that their staff really are working even though they are not in the office, and also to help connect teleworkers with the rest of the organisation (after all, people's loyalty is normally to those they work with rather than the organisation as an abstract entity, Mr Dudley observed).

"Telepresence is basically dead," he claimed, as the market is too small. In contrast, LifeSize is aiming at "the fat middle of the market."


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.