Video-Enabled Collaboration

Over the past couple months I have talked at an accelerating pace to vendors and buyers who are interested in delivering video solutions to support communications and collaboration. The concepts and solutions range from desk top to telepresence, conferencing to one-on-one, and both synchronous as well as asynchronous. Technology finally appears ready to deliver that 60% of non-verbal human communications in ways that users can actually adopt, use, and integrate into their daily work lives. Vendors continue to develop capabilities and solutions, and buyers continue to demand answers about ROI, security, and reliability. All the while video-native users are adopting consumer apps to get the job done, using capabilities from firms like Skype, Google (YouTube) and Apple (iChat). What are people doing?
1. Real Time Two-Way Video (aka Video Conferencing)
Reducing travel to recurring staff meetings used to be the predominant use case, but with better work product sharing has led to more use by product development and other creative teams, while desktop capabilities have brought lone remote workers onto video and good high definition resolutions have enabled some business people to use video conferencing for M&A negotiations or hiring interviews. Video, Web, and Audio Conferencing are rapidly converging to become ‘unified’ conferencing.
2. One-Way Video (aka Scheduled Broadcast or Narowcast)
Once used to push corporate propaganda to the lunch room, corporate broadcasts now deliver town hall meetings to desktops, product information to retail kiosks, and product launch information to resellers and agents. Digital signage and video streaming solutions that optimize network utilization -- using video caches, multicasting, and even peer to peer streaming -- help companies to adopt video streaming using existing network capacity.
3. Archived Video (aka User Generated Content)
I first used the phrase “YouTube for the Enteprise” in a webinar with Communicado (now Qumu) in September of 2007, and as I talk with strategist and product managers at collaboration vendors I hear more and more about it –Cisco (Show and Share), IBM (Digital Media Factory), Kontiki (Video Center), and Microsoft (Sharepoint and Silverlight) all aim to enable the easy creation and consumption of user (or corporate) generated video. Saving these video archives on collaboration platforms means that videos are just another file type stored in virtual project rooms, portals, and file systems.

What does this mean?
Video is flooding networks, and it is not just fun and games. Serious companies are investing serious time and money to improve clarity and speed of communications and collaboration at their companies, so vendors need to help these companies manage the solutions and the networks that support the coming wave of video-enabled collaboration – and show the positive business value of the video adoption.
I have talked with Polycom execs who are working to integrate video and web conferencing in video rooms and at the desktop, and with Premiere Global execs who are looking to provide personal conferencing spaces tuned to help users feel that they are in the same room when collaborating. IBM and Cisco execs are convinced that video is the answer to enabling grossly distributed work teams to collaborate and communicate clearly. All while helping their customers manage the networks and platforms required.
I’d like to hear about your new plans – as either a vendor or a buyer – for video-enabled collaboration in 2010.