Is the future of communication video?

Several of the traditional leaders in the communication space believe that the answer to the question is yes. Like most things in technology, it is one thing to know the answer to the question and quite another to understand the timing.

I have been involved with next generation video communication systems for five years now and I understand how they can really give a company an edge. Prior to my involvement however, when people talked about visual communication I pictured traditional video conferencing with scaled images of boardrooms, poor video and terrible audio. I really didn’t see any advantage over an audio conference call.

Cisco introduced Telepresence in October of 2006 and they started an advertising campaign to educate the masses. The TV ads were well produced and people could see how a system like the CTS3000 could make a difference. Many people had their Cisco sales person in for a chat and were completely sold until they saw the price tag.

Well the price has changed, but the education process needs to continue. People still think video conferencing when visual communication is brought up in a conversation. Companies like Lifesize, Polycom, Tandberg/Cisco have hardware solutions that approach the functionality of Telepresence for a much lower price tag. Companies like Magor and Vidyo have software based systems that promise better performance over best effort networks and a greater ROI (See post on Dec 11, Hardware vs Software).

So if availability and price are no longer an issue, why has visual communication not been adopted by the masses? This is a good question and one that may be answered in 2013. The education of the consumer is continuing and the feedback is very positive. All biases aside, Magor has the only product with Skype integration and a mesh architecture. Magor also has the best inter-op story providing customers with a cap and migrate strategy that none of the other vendors have picked up on.

2013 may very well be the year of visual communication but that will depend on the players and how well they continue to educate the consumers. As an insider I see the business advantages but I also see the importance of things like a good audio sub-system, full size video and eye contact. The closer the visual communication experience gets to real life the more useful it is.

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