Video on Demand

With video conferencing solutions anticipated to return to positive market growth in 2013, the channel is facing up to some bracing challenges in terms of the skills required to sell the technology effectively

Tags: ComstorFVC - First Video Communications IncorporationLifeSize Communications (www.lifesize.com)Polycom IncorporationWestcon Group Incorporation
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Video on Demand
By  Piers Ford Published  March 19, 2013

With video conferencing solutions anticipated to return to positive market growth in 2013, the channel is facing up to some bracing challenges in terms of the skills required to sell the technology effectively. Piers Ford reports.

Video conferencing has gone mainstream. After years as a niche solution, it has been absorbed by the unified communications (UC) market and for many enterprises, its inclusion as a component of their total communications strategy is taken as read. As a result, the regional channel is facing up to some bracing challenges in terms of the skills required to sell the technology effectively, and the nature of solution- rather than box-based sales.

There was certainly a global slowdown in the market during 2012 compared with the previous year. Analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC) reported third-quarter disappointment for large-scale telepresence system vendors in particular, although the market was also hit by dwindling demand at a components level.

Overall, revenue was down by nearly 5% on the same period in 2011, but it actually rose by more than 7% compared with the second quarter. But continued enthusiasm for personal, workgroup and departmental video conferencing packages was more encouraging.

“Despite the overall weak third-quarter performance in the worldwide enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence market, we still see adoption being driven by video integrations with vendors’ UC and collaboration portfolios, and with the increasing use of video among small workgroup, desktop and mobile users,” said Petr Jirovsky, senior research analyst of Worldwide Networking Trackers Research at IDC. “Video as a key component of collaboration continues to place high on the list of priorities for many organisations and we anticipate a return to positive market growth in 2013.”

According to IDC, video conferencing revenues fell by 10.8% in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) during the third quarter of 2012. However, vendors in the Middle East are looking at the long term and identifying some promising trends brought about by greater convergence and integration with UC, which is being driven by the major networking vendors.

“Enterprises are keen to increase profitability by enhancing productivity and integrating video conferencing on a UC platform will enable true collaboration,” said James Saldanha, divisional director for critical infrastructure and enterprise mobility at distributor Westcon.

“For the education sector, integrating video conferencing with interactive whiteboards for live streaming and recording lectures will assist in enhancing the learning experience. For the healthcare industry, telemedicine is becoming an integral feature of mainstream patient care, using video conferencing to transmit still images, monitor vital signs remotely, give real-time access to specialists as soon as medical emergencies arise, enable physicians to collaborate globally, and for the virtual mentoring of doctors, patients and medical students.”

Saldanha said education and distance learning institutions, organisations with a distributed workforce, healthcare and finance – with high net worth customers wanting to interact with their bank managers via video – are leading the adoption of video conferencing across the Middle East.

At another distributor, FVC, managing director K. S. Parag added the oil and gas sector, with its requirement for remote communications, adds to the list. Parag said the UAE is currently the biggest consumer of the technology, followed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The video conferencing market is growing,” said Parag. “It is no longer just standalone. It is part of a wider UC market segment. There are so many technological elements to this burgeoning segment; the channel needs to raise its expertise levels and skills set. Fortunately, our partners across the region have been working in this segment for some time now and are continuously updated on new initiatives including special applications in key sectors.”

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