However it was highlighted that a key challenge to be faced in this time of BYOD is how to secure the enterprise without compromising user privacy.
Whilst many people in the Visual Collaboration channel observe products such as those from Vidyo and BlueJeans Network as being disruptive, game changing technologies, many of the speakers at the event mentioned, indeed paid respect to Skype; a great tribute to the way in which it has become Everyman’s Introduction to VC. Everyone uses Skype to talk with grandma, and by and large are pretty happy with it, and a lot of them want to keep life simple and use the same product for work if they can. Main thing missing from Skype is collaboration; it should probably be assumed that Microsoft is aware of that. We don’t always need HD Telepresence, sometimes good is good enough.
An interesting comment was made, and deserves serious thought: vertical markets drive technology on from its nascent state. Which is, perhaps, another way of saying get niche or get out.
The panel did not cover one of the issues that BT Conferencing’s Jeff Schuster identified to TP&VC Insight as being a notable obstacle to the uptake of VC: cultural issues. For instance a surprising number of senior executives, typically female but not always, are reluctant to appear on camera, being very conscious of their appearance. Cultural issues such as this need to be understood and addressed – through cross-vendor initiatives, ideally – if VC really is to achieve its potential.
Vaddio’s stand featured their AV Bridge product, a USB based system that allows the integration of soft codecs such as Skype, Cisco Jabber, and Microsoft Lync. It is a digital USB gateway that allows the integration of pro audio and video equipment into any PC software application, and it was one of the busiest that we saw at the show. We had an interesting discussion of the challenges to be overcome before we’ll see, or rather not see, PTZ cameras behind the glass of the display, thus enabling true eye-contact during conferences. The next big thing, we think.
External observers might be shocked to learn about some of the ways in which the video / audio market has operated. This is illustrated by a Revolabs announcement that it is now shipping all microphones with field replaceable batteries, thus allowing users to purchase batteries from their dealer / distributor and they say that “to swap batteries users simply open the microphone, put in the new battery and charge it.” Haven’t we being doing this with devices for decades? This seems to illustrate the oft-heard comment that there’s a lot of people “capitalising” on the mystique of the technology in ways that wouldn’t be tolerated in a more competitive environment. There may of course be a completely logical and very sound technical explanation for this development from the company that is not apparent at the first reading of their announcement.
It was hard to find anyone who though that Polycom’s new logo, or “corporate image”, was an improvement over the old one, seemingly bereft of any dynamism whatsoever. No worry, we’ll get used to it. Vice President John Antanaitis underlined that it paints a picture of a connected, connecting company, at the heart of the enterprise. But we were encouraged to see that he is still utilising his stock of business cards with the old logo. Waste not, want not.
BlueJeans Network is to be lauded for adopting a transparent pricing policy. The company sees that there’s a lot of silo’d endpoints gathering dust, and that the company’s bridging solution is opening up the world of VC. A nice strapline. Conference room systems aren’t going away any time soon, everyone’s still building their islands and trying to populate them. BJN has achieved a lot since they came onto the radar little over a year ago, and they are a company that has a great future ahead of it.
TP&VC Insight’s Technical Panel has completed its review of VideoMeet, Deutsche Telecomm’s branded version of BJN and we’ll be publishing the review next week. It makes very interesting reading!
We asked senior execs from several vendors why there hadn’t been a major push of VC solutions in the run up to the London Olympics and the expected travel chaos. They seemed to think it was an innovative idea …