Research and Markets: Tough Economy and Growing Environmental Concerns Propel Videoconferencing into the Limelight

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This strategic analysis is part of Frost & Sullivan's continued coverage of the conferencing and collaboration marketplace. Within this analysis, Frost & Sullivan has identified market drivers, restraints, competitive landscape, revenues, market shares and key market trends, within the global videoconferencing market. With extensive primary and secondary research, this analysis provides real time collaboration vendors with a detailed look at the current and changing dynamics in the fast evolving videoconferencing marketplace.

During 2007, the world enterprise videoconferencing endpoints markets were growing at a feverish pace, while modest growth was registered in 2008. The ongoing recession could deliver a fresh impetus to the market, as with increasing globalization, companies are exploring proactive approaches to reduce travel and facilities costs. Organizations seeking to integrate a globally dispersed and increasingly mobile workforce are ideal candidates for videoconferencing. Multiple market forces are converging to set the stage for a market ripe for change. The inflection point for large-scale videoconferencing technology adoption has arrived. "The viral growth of video in the consumer market will impact the psyche of Gen "Y-ers" when they get into the workforce," notes the analyst of this research service. "Along with web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, blogs, and social networking, video is emerging as an integral part of this new communication paradigm." Awareness of unified communications (UC) is rising steadily and the enterprise communication industry is converging around UC. The uptake of videoconferencing, which is becoming an integral part of all UC products, will be significantly boosted.

The credit crisis and recession fears have cast a shadow over the market, considerably impacting overall IT spending and deployment of enterprise communications technologies. Compelling questions surround the growth of conferencing technologies through 2009 and the years to follow and the market is confronted with huge challenges. Evidence points to a slowdown in technology upgrades and refresh rates. In particular, high-definition (HD) refresh rates will slacken in 2009, with end users focusing on extending their current investment. Enterprises will direct their energies toward the maintenance and upkeep of existing investments rather than on new technologies. Delaying the replacement of legacy infrastructure and equipment will be a surefire method to reduce capital expenditure.

"The effect of the economic slowdown will be a double-edged sword because, on one hand, videoconferencing will help companies support a more virtual workplace," says the analyst. "On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect that the majority of companies will hunker down and slash IT budgets to avoid new investments and this includes videoconferencing." Accordingly, ensuring channel margins and loyalty as prices experience downward pressure, will pose challenges for vendors battling the tough economic climate. Although these roadblocks exist, videoconferencing will grow significantly, by both growing usage at the desktop as well as room systems and executive systems, which extend beyond the desktop world.

After the initial adoption of UC is underway, the next step is the shift from a tactical approach to a strategic approach. At this stage, vendors have to focus on the integration of video into business processes themselves to deliver a true productivity enabler. Videoconferencing applications in the call center will be the low-hanging fruit for business process integration. Going forward, videoconferencing vendors must lay strong emphasis on partnerships with UC vendors. By means of product and partnership strategies, videoconferencing vendors can position themselves as "enablers" of video in a complete communication solution. End of article.

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