New Lease of Life

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

One communication technology that defied the recession and went ahead with an

upward surge has been conferencing solutions. Domestic and global vendors

increased their activity in India to tap the potential market.


A combination of economic drivers such as globalization, outsourcing,

offshoring, telecommuting and mobile workforces have created dispersed teams and

added cultural complexity on how people relate to each other. The ability to

communicate and share information in real-time over any device and across any

network brings a distinct competitive advantage. This is being successfully done

by conferencing solutions.

As per Frost & Sullivan, the market is gaining hugely from organizations'

new-found austerity that includes enhanced collaboration and reduction in travel

costs. Revenues in Asia Pacific rose by 24.9% in 2008, and are expected to grow

further by 26.3% this year, reaching a market size $123.1 mn by the end of 2009.

Growth of the sector, which includes hosted services/SaaS

(software-as-a-service) and on-premise web conferencing software, is expected to

peak over the next two years, clocking growth rates of 27% in 2010 and 2011.

Expert Panel

Shivashankar K, country manager, India, LifeSize


Sanjay Bansal, CMD, Business Octane

Anshul Dhingra, head, marketing, India and SAARC, Polycom

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

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

Pushpendra Mankad, senior vice president, Comverse

Sandeep Mehrotra, director, sales, Adobe systems, India

Rajesh Menon, VP, global enterprise solution business unit, Tata

Damanjeet Kaur, director, marketing and media communications,
PeopleLink Corporate Solutions


In the current year, all forecasts predict an upward surge. Conferencing

solutions have come a long way than just being an add-on interactive mode for

the bigger companies. As the penetration increases, there is a realization by

the public and private sector about the utility of conferencing solutions.

The overall videoconferencing market in India is about $42 mn, with about 70%

of this coming from endpoint revenues.

The potential market size for collaboration and conferencing solutions is Rs

10,000 crore spread over the next five years. The current year estimate for the

total market is approximately Rs 450 crore. Out of this, collaboration solutions

are going to drive a substantial growth for the segment as that is something

which will add value to the way enterprises conduct business.


Green Conferencing

'Green' is now more than a trend. The need to cut down on energy consumption

and also to save time has resulted in enterprises adopting conferencing

solutions more than ever.

The world is making efforts to find alternative sources for effective

collaboration. Globally, the increased usage of videoconferencing has lessened

the need to travel and have a collaboration that is giving strategic benefits to

small as well as big corporate houses.

Conferencing , particularly when video telephony is involved, is 'green'.

Enterprises and their employees are looking for more effective ways of meeting

virtually without having to spend money on an airline ticket or a tank of gas.

In conjunction with the new corporate initiatives to limit business travel,

there has been an increase in the initiatives directed at corporate social

responsibility and decreasing carbon footprints. Thus, videophone conferencing

can have the dual benefit of travel savings and green IT compliance for


Tips for CIOs

The handy tips that CIOs should keep in mind while adopting conferencing

solutions :

  • Advantageous: Companies that move quickly to adopt collaborative

    cultures enabled by unified communications, business video, and web 2.0

    gain first-mover advantages against their competitors
  • Collaboration: Current collaboration alternatives are difficult to

    deploy and integrate within a business environment. Most don't scale to

    mobile workspaces and lack the business controls necessary for today's

    regulatory environment. Few enable people to connect and communicate

    across firewalls or corporate boundaries
  • Adaptive Communications: Standards based platform should be designed

    to enable customers to quickly adapt business processes by creating

    individualized, process-specific collaborative applications that provide

    inter-company capabilities; but maintain centralized policy, security and

  • Accessibility: Use of web 2.0 tools and APIs to make network

    applications and services accessible to business applications. Web 2.0

    offers speed to deployment and interoperability via a well-known toolset,

    widely adopted standards, and a wide developer community. This means

    customers can 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 services

  • Richer Collaborative Experience (Voice and Audio): The complexity of

    today's business environment requires more than just sharing data files.

    It requires collaborative experiences that integrate high quality voice,

    video, and rich media. From streaming desktop video to the highly

    immersive telepresence experience, only Cisco offers a full range of video

    communications and distribution solutions across its unified

    communications and collaboration application suite
  • Contextual Collaboration: The platforms should provide collaboration

    capabilities where they can deliver the biggest impact within the context

    of business processes

It's Pure Technology

With the ever increasing need for a better collaboration across enterprises,

organizations are now looking for such solutions that offer true strategic


High definition videoconferencing (HDVC) is the latest offering when it comes

to videoconferencing. It is fast becoming the most acceptable form for video

communication. We see a marked increase in the adoption of HDVC across all

segments such as government, education, IT/BPO and healthcare. With HDVC

delivering high quality at an affordable price, the thing that will change most

quickly is the definition of telepresence.

Growth Drivers

  • Declining cost of IP telephony, and the shift from ISDN to VOIP

  • Availability of broadband with a reduced cost
  • Global warming becoming an alarm for all countries and the increasing

    CSR has raised the adoption of green technologies like high-definition

  • Increasing need for large enterprises and SMEs to cut cost
  • Awareness of the various benefits of the videoconferencing technology

    among enterprises large, mid-cap and even SMEs
  • Increased globalization of businesses and a fierce competition amongst

    enterprises has created awareness to use innovative yet cost effective

  • HD systems have fueled the growth of videoconferencing systems; the

    adoption of HD:SD is 30:70 now, but the trend is shifting now
  • Video communications is an anchor technology of unified communications
  • Telepresence provides a human touch to technology as it provides an

    immersive collaboration experience
  • The world is more mobile than ever, and conferencing allows the proper

    utilization of time by allowing business to happen in the most efficient

  • Videoconferencing solutions help businesses reduce the product

    development cycles, enhance team communications and move products to the

    market sooner; resulting in a higher productivity, shorter time to revenue

    and an increased customer satisfaction
  • Conferencing solutions are used in all the facets of HR policy

    administration-from the hiring process to training as well as employee


The emergence of rich media conferencing is an interesting trend to watch out

for. Rich media conferencing is a powerful tool that a company can use to

achieve an effective interactive collaboration.

Another trend that is growing exponentially is videoconferencing. This sector

is moving beyond corporate to the government sector, judiciary, distance

learning, entertainment and telemedicine. There is an increased usage of

videoconferencing systems for interviewing candidates, interaction with

relatives settled abroad, reviews and meetings, product launches, press

conferences and auditioning actors. While enterprises started adopting HD as a

technology, this technology grew quite rapidly last year. Telepresence

deployment has also increased in the industry. The second generation

telepresence has been accepted very well. On the infrastructure side in terms of

MCU, the technology is moving from 720p to 1080p that is full HD. Companies are

now looking at archiving these video meetings; hence they are opting for

deploying different solutions.


The conferencing technologies are also moving from a solution that was for

sitting in a conference room to a desktop.

The enterprise market today has quite a significant deployment of IP phones.

Going forward, the need to make phones video enabled for better communications

is increasing.

With the emergence of Internet and evolution of network-centric business

practices, many companies turned immediately to multimedia conferencing; others

embraced applications that allowed groups to share documents and collaborate on

projects in real-time. Now some companies, including a growing number of small

and medium businesses (SMBs), are combining these capabilities to create virtual

meetings, and work faster and more effectively.


Telepresence in the form of custom three-screen mirror rooms that cost

hundreds of thousands of dollars has a tremendous appeal, but an inherently

limited market. It enables companies to build their telepresence networks on a

superior architecture, while customizing the cognitive (lighting and acoustics)

and aesthetic (room design and furniture) traits to fit their requirements,

budgets, and tastes. The flexibility of solutions allow companies to broaden

their telepresence networks to more environments.

Pricing Hurdle

As the trajectory of growth continues, technologies are being viewed as a

means of business continuity and containing costs in this tough economic

scenario. But the biggest hurdle is pricing.

Most of the conferencing deployments, especially video, are quite expensive.

So if the lack of awareness is used to downplay the market for a long time, then

for sure pricing is another big challenge which has to be overcome. On an

average, globally the prices have come down in the last few years with better

technology and features. Pricing still is an issue, especially with small

corporate houses.

Markets have a range of solutions when it comes to pricing. However, pricing

has to be seen in a positive light. There is an expected huge RoI after the

companies have deployed the solutions. These include:

  • Reduction in airline ticket purchases
  • Annual overhead saved by having some employees work from home
  • Money saved through online and video based sales training versus the

    traditional classroom sessions

While the initial expense is relatively higher compared to other

communication products and services, the returns on the products are

proportionately impressive. In the long run, as the options multiply, prices are

expected to drop.

Evolving with Time

From a networking perspective, 14 bn devices will be connected to the

Internet by 2010, and the network will become one of the primarily utilities of

the twenty-first century. Cloud computing, data center technologies, security

and mobile applications are among the top ten strategic technologies identified

by Gartner for 2010. Various forms of communication enabled by the network are

the drivers of the next wave of innovation and will connect businesses and

people, by creating and enabling new experiences. Companies will transform

themselves to adopt collaborative cultures enabled by next-gen technologies such

as unified communications, business video, web 2.0 and virtualization that are

likely to gain sustainable competitive advantage.

For a while now-downturn or no downturn-there has been a consensus on the

fact that the Indian domestic market presents huge opportunities for the

networking sector. For instance, the scope for improving Internet and broadband

penetration in India is not only a business opportunity but a chance to play a

pivotal role in fostering inclusive growth in the country. Today, medical

facilities are being delivered over the Internet and students in remote parts of

the country are able to access education through distance learning models being

enabled by Internet technologies.


  • Limited awareness of technology in relevance with rapid RoI: With

    telepresence technology, companies can save a considerable amount of cost

    incurred on presence solutions. These solutions are generally seen as a

    high investment, but their returns are substantially higher as compared to

    the investment made on them. Many Polycom HD and telepresence customers

    see a complete RoI for their investments in as little as one to six months
  • Reliability of Bandwidth: To support telepresence and high definition

    videoconferencing, there is a minimum requirement of bandwidth.

    Reliability and consistent availability of bandwidth is important for a

    rich and immersive experience.
  • Technical Know How: Unified communications and conferencing

    technologies reside on different networks and different platforms,

    requiring various management interfaces for maintenance and intricate

    technical support which may become a challenge
  • Managing the Converged Infrastructure: So that the real-time

    applications such as voice and video have a priority over less

    time-sensitive applications such as web surfing and email
  • Standard Resolution: High definition makes videoconferencing a real

    alternative to meeting face to face. Video display technology has

    progressed over the past fifteen years substantially. Quality and

    availability of IP broadband improved substantially too. However, the same

    progress did not appear in the videoconferencing technology with

    manufacturers continuing to offer systems capable of just standard

    definition resolutions

IT Investments in areas of e-governance, virtual healthcare, distance

learning, connected branch services, rural banking, managed data services,

hosted unified communications, and public safety & security are likely to

accelerate. A potential in solutions that use IP network as a platform to manage

physical security applications like video surveillance, physical access control,

communications, etc, is also on its peak and with it the conferencing business

will benefit the most.


As per a Frost & Sullivan report, telepresence and WebEx solutions are

mainly used for corporate meetings and for recruitment by 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 these

technology solutions in the next three to five years.

Traditional video and web conferencing is fast changing. This change has been

accelerated by the launch of high-end video collaboration solutions such as


Public telepresence rooms have already been launched by multiple service

providers globally, including Tata Communications and Tata Teleservices

Maharashtra. With the arrival of public rooms, individuals now have the

flexibility to pay on an hourly basis to avail these services and evade the huge

investment costs involved in telepresence.

Companies are definitely looking at high-definition systems (1080p) as the

technology and bandwidth are now available. Companies are also looking at

implementing video into their unified communications portfolio.

The quality and in turn the user experience is dependent not only on the

videoconferencing devices, but also on the network bandwidth. Government of

India through the Ministry of Telecommunications has focused on providing a high

quality bandwidth to consumers. The setting up of the NIB, broadband

initiative-are all pointing towards the fact that IP bandwidth would be

available in India in the future. Hence, the network availability necessary for

videoconferencing would be in place.

According to a recent report by Frost & Sullivan, it has been predicted that

telepresence and videoconferencing will grow into a $4.7 bn industry worldwide

by 2014, out of which Asia Pacific is expected to contribute $1.7 bn.

Conferencing will truly change the way people work. India will be a very

quick adopter of the videoconferencing, particularly with the availability of

cheaper and faster broadband.

More interestingly, we believe that modern everyday devices like desktop

phones will be replaced by video desktop systems, and this will revolutionize

the way we work.

A Frost & Sullivan report on business continuity cited the criticality of

on-demand collaborative communication technologies for business continuity. It

says, "If employees are well prepared and comfortable collaborating remotely,

they are much more likely to stay focused and productive, allowing them to

continue supporting customers and positively impact the company's bottomline."

Education and health verticals have the potential to be large drivers in the

adoption of videoconferencing. But quality is a requirement that every business

has, and vendors are putting in every effort to ensure it.

Companies will be most open to the idea of 'working from home' as people are

more accessible through home based desktop systems. The deployment of

telepresence rooms would certainly increase. Apart from this, interoperability

among various video technologies that is from telepresence rooms to desktop

video, video on the move, video kiosks, video on 3G phones-is likely to increase


Archana Singh