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Conferencing Solutions : The Boom Ahead

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The Indian audio-video conferencing industry continued to be on the growth

trajectory and became a popular mode of communication in the enterprise segment.

The entry of new and vibrant technology like telepresence is further fueling the

market.

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Videoconferencing is evolving quiet rapidly in India. According to a recent

Frost&Sullivan report, in 2008, the telepresence market was reported to be $3.2

mn. According to the same report the overall estimated revenue of

videconferencing industry in the calendar year 2008 will be around $55 mn and in

the calendar year 2009, estimated revenue will be around $66 mn.

While earlier traditional videoconferencing was done in a conferencing room

equipped with a television-set type unit, the year gone by saw the emergence of

public telepresence rooms. With the arrival of public telepresence rooms,

individuals will have the flexibility to pay on an hourly basis to avail these

services. The telepresence market has moved from the early adopters, with over

1000 units deployed worldwide to the requirement for this installed base to

interconnect with each other. Beyond their internal rooms, enterprises now want

inter-company connectivity.

According to the recent Frost & Sullivan report last year, as of now,

telepresence solutions today are mainly used for corporate meetings and for

recruitment by the HR executives. As the technology gains momentum, other

applications such as training and research, and the demonstration of products

and services shall increase the adoption of telepresence solutions in the coming

three-to-five years. Apart from that public telepresence rooms are expected to

start soon by some service providers. This would give the individual flexibility

to pay on an hourly basis to avail and evade the high initial investment cost

involved in deploying a telepresence solution.

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Reduction in travel time continues to remain the prime driver of conferencing

solutions. Enhanced employee productivity, as one spends less time traveling is

one of the key drivers of videoconferencing and allied solutions available in

the market today. Web-based videoconferencing can improve teamwork throughout a

company, accelerate project turnaround and time to market, hasten

decision-making, permit more selling in a shorter time period, eliminate certain

sales and service calls, improve information sharing and responsiveness, reduce

sales cycles and contribute to more efficient business processes.

Apart from the cost benefits to an enterprise, most participants in the

expert panel believe that India is a growing market, and is expected to grow

rapidly over the next decade. Deployment of conferencing solutions is being

witnessed not just in the large enterprise segment but also in small and medium

businesses. The SME segment is fast realizing the benefits of collaborative

solutions. The combination of mobility solutions and applications enhanced with

UC-based communication capabilities are becoming popular with enterprises across

the segment. In the past, the growth of videoconferencing solutions has not been

able to generate hype in the SME sector, however with the growing need and

increased competitiveness, the sector is realizing the benefits of it.

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The current recessionary environment is likely to further boost the growth of

the videoconferencing industry in the country. Pressure to be more productive at

lower costs, short time to market and being able to reach people are pertinent

for companies to gain a competitive edge, and these requirements will drive the

adoption of videoconferencing in the country.

Reduction of carbon footprint is another reason behind the growing popularity

of videoconferencing as it directly cuts down on the travel within an

organization. Enterprises are fast realizing the need to be environment-friendly

and need to reduce carbon footprint.

Experts panel


Dinesh Sehgal, regional director, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,

Tandberg



Minhaj Zia
, national sales manager, unified communications, Cisco India

& Saarc

Peter Quinlan, director, telepresence managed services, Tata

Communications


V Praveen Kumar
, head, enterprise voice & teleconferencing, Avaya

GlobalConnect



Paul Newell,
Director of Technical & Strategic Sales

for Asia-Pacific and Acting Country Manager for India & SAARC, Polycom.

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Technology Buzz



Collaborative technologies have increased in popularity in the enterprise

segment. They enable business partners to switch back and forth from web, video

and audio conferencing to see and hear each other and to share documents and

information in real time. Today's enterprises are also looking forward to

leading edge technology, flexible conference, highly scalable solutions, secure

VoIP conferencing, embedded multipoint options and videoconferencing solutions.

There is a strong evidence that stand-alone videoconferencing solutions are

expected to be impacted by the changing usage dynamics and the availability of

superior technology in the market today.

Most of the videoconferencing manufacturers have adopted H.239, an ITU-T

recommended standard for multimedia communications, which has made it simpler

for users to see the presenter and the presentation at the same time.

Deploying

Telepresence: CIOs Questions
  • Does the service provider offer inter-company connectivity?
  • If the service provider offers inter-company network, is it only for

    their network or is it open to telepresence rooms on any network?
  • How to manage telepresence rooms-with in-house resources or using

    managed services?
  • To go for hosted solution or leased solution?
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Web conferencing, or Internet-based conferencing is another emerging trend in

the industry. This only requires software and an Internet connection and allows

conferencing from a participant's desktops instead of having a designated

conference room with expensive equipment.

The video world is in the midst of a massive migration from circuit-switched

ISDN transmission to packet-switched IP networks, which promises lower costs,

easier management, remote monitoring and control.

Apart from that desktop or personal conferencing is undergoing a rapid

transition as new systems are coming to the market that enable video to be

integrated into the enterprise work flow. For most companies, high definition

videoconferencing systems with enhanced image resolutions are on the horizon,

promising clearer picture and more detailed video.

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The upcoming 3G technology will also enable companies to offer 3G phone users

to connect in point-to-point or multi-point video calls. 3G will ultimately move

videoconferencing to the participant's mobile. This mobile videoconferencing

allows users to use their mobile phones and other handheld devices to video

conference via 3G gateways. The gateways convert analog voice streams and video

into IP packets.

Adaptive communication tools are further increasing in popularity, which

allow customers to create collaborative experiences on a range of client devices

(PCs, mobile phones) with public tools (Wikis, IM, Google Widgets) as well as

corporate applications (Webex, UC, video, mobility service engines).

Demands from CIOs

  • Reduction in cost of connectivity
  • Easy availability of bandwidth-more players, roll out of fiber all

    across India
  • Richer collaborative experience (voice and video)
  • Contextual collaboration
  • Availability of single point of accountability
  • How to reap maximum benefit from this investment?
  • Integrate Videoconferencing into their communication fabric enabling

    Unified Communication
  • Technologies with higher uptime
  • Quality videoconferencing with quick Return on Investment
  • Professional and efficient project management for quick multi-locational

    deployments
  • Dependable IP/ISDN media
  • Ease of use and user friendliness
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Challenges



Despite its inherent technological and cost advantages, videoconferencing

over converged network faces certain challenges that impede its growth. There is

lack of education and low awareness on the business benefits of conferencing

solutions. Factors like cost of ownership, maintenance of infrastructure and the

general perception about videoconferencing as an item of luxury could possibly

impact growth of this market.

At present, most enterprises connect via ISDN. However, Internet-based

connections are increasing in popularity and many public rooms have come up in

India, which allow conferencing over an IP network. Bandwidth issues at the

back-end also need to be addressed to ensure that full benefits of

videoconferencing can be availed.

One of the major challenges being faced by organizations is integration

across various elements of unified communications. Management of the converged

infrastructure is a further issue since real-time applications such as voice and

video have priority over less time-sensitive applications such as Web surfing

and email.

In some instances, lack of technical knowledge might become a challenge.

Unified Communications and conferencing solutions reside on different networks

and different platforms, requiring various management interfaces for maintenance

and intricate technical support.

The enterprises today demand an audio which is clear, without noise,

intelligible, echo-free and of sufficient volume. There is also need of a

technology, which will provide directional clues as to who is speaking if

multiple people are in the room, likewise video images should be clear, life

size and noise-free, while providing sufficient resolution and detail. The other

major issue is that the connections are unreliable. Either the calls do not go

through or the connections provide poor quality audio or video. Sometimes, audio

and video signals also suffer from noticeable delay, delay being one of the most

visible deterrents to having a natural-feeling meeting.

Going Forward



Adequate steps are being taken by telecom service providers that will enhance
network performance and resolve network maintenance issues. The drift towards

more deployment of IP endpoints is expected over the years. As this

technological shift accelerates, it will lead to easier deployment of

videoconferencing solutions. As convergence brings voice, data and video on the

same IP network, IP will become the backbone of the business infrastructure and

collaborative communications is fast becoming a necessity for organizations

across the globe.

Accessing videoconferencing through any medium irrespective of location or

networks is what the next big thing is likely to be. The technology will help

people on the move to be connected with their offices across the globe literally

through the touch of a button.

In the current year, while the government and corporate sectors are likely to

fuel the demand for visual collaboration solutions, relatively smaller markets

like education and healthcare will record growth as well. There is also an

emergence of new verticals like telemedicine, government and tele-medicine,

which is further likely to fuel the market. According to Frost&Sullivan,

convergence of collaborative technologies is growing at a fast pace and the

overall market will grow 12.6% annually from about $4.8 bn in 2004 to $9 bn in

2009.

The government sector is going in for videoconferencing adoption on a massive

scale: videoconferencing between various Government departments in India,

Videoconferencing in e-governance & District Administration through various

State Wide Area Network (SWAN) projects. In the corporate sector, IT firms and

banking sector contributes the maximum share in this vertical.

Hosted videoconferencing services from services providers are gaining in

popularity.

This technology has already changed the way enterprises communicate, and as

the current market scenario demonstrates, it is likely to be as commonplace as

mobile phones where enterprise communication is concerned. The future outlook of

the Indian videoconferencing market is bright and sunny.

Gagandeep Kaur



gagandeepk@cybermedia.co.in

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