Have the Sales of Video Conference Endpoints Gone Flat?
Part 1 of 3 blogs on the changing nature of the use of video conferencing
Endpoints, an essential part of video conferencing, have recently been having rumours spread galore that their sales numbers have been flat or even possibly in decline. With the use of video conferencing growing worldwide how can this be possible? Is it true?
Not to try and be a politician about this, but the answer is both yes and no. So stay with me as I explain. Part of the answer depends on how you define endpoints. So let’s start with that.
A decade ago I might have been able to define an endpoint as 1 of 3 things: A computer screen, a television or a projector. Today I would add the categories of mobile (smartphones and tablets) and wearable technology (smartwatches and headgear) to increase the groups to 5, not much of a raise you might think. The choice however within those 5 groups is constantly expanding in line with the advancements of technology.
So is there a decline?
The way in which meetings are held evolves and the cost of real estate in offices increases. Whereas that same decade ago 90% of meetings would be held in a meeting room or boardroom; breakout areas, huddle room and meetings from desks and home offices have become much more common place. This is also compounded by companies looking at cloud based services as their first port of call rather than a traditional room based system.
The fact is that technology has been disruptive in the last decade and has caused a high amount of change in business as its pervasive use increases. We are not just talking about video conferencing, but technology as a whole. First the rise of the smartphone, which was followed by tablets has enabled employees to comfortably work from outside of the office environment. With the increased mobile signal and growing numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots many employees can now effectively do their job from any location.
Social media and apps as programmes have given the consumer much more power over purchasing and customer service. The ability to price check in store, locate online discounts and talk to company staff before and after purchase has changed the way in which companies must think and how they act.
Cloud computing, has moved data storage from behind company firewalls to data centres that can be accessed quickly and securely by employees in any location.
Technology has supposedly made business more efficient, sped up the time to market process and made peoples jobs easier. I said supposedly, as there will be people who claim otherwise. However, it is certainly one of the main benefits of video conferencing in being able to more easily arrange global meetings.
Companies at the moment are in a position where they are looking at two different video conferencing scenarios (that are not mutually exclusive to one another). The first is that companies are contemplating cloud strategies, whether private, public or hybrid and VaaS (video as a service) enabling the benefits that these offer; cost effectiveness, usage and scalability. Three key factors that can make a difference to TCO and quality of experience for the user.
Secondly companies are now less likely to be looking initially at room based set-ups, but instead opting for video enabled mobile devices, all-in-ones, and desktop/home solutions to fit with the changes taking place in the workforce. So it may not be true that the number of endpoints is falling, but the revenue from endpoints is likely to be getting lower, especially for the big players in the market.
As more and more employees move to video conferencing on the move, so the number of mobile enabled devices will increase. This of course takes the hardware market away from Cisco, Polycom and other traditional endpoint makers and into the pockets of Apple, Samsung et al who are fighting it out in the mobile market. But the usage of video conferencing is still increasing, so if you count smartphones tablets and wearables as endpoints, then the number is on the increase. The market for the traditional players is moving from hardware to software, but that is a whole other blog.
The same could broadly be said in the case of desktop and home office spaces, where video enabled laptops are probably most popular for business employees. There are however a number of smaller specific endpoints that have been designed for desks. Cisco’s DX80 and Polycom’s RealPresence Group Convene spring to mind, but the cost of these is much lower than that of a room based system.
Whilst companies like Cisco and Polycom are adapting very quickly to the change in technology, both in hardware and more importantly software they must be concerned for now about their sales in endpoints.
Why ‘now’? Well that again is another blog about the change in use of video conferencing that will be coming next week.
Image courtesy of Polycom