Unified Communications (UC) has been slow to catch on, particularly the bandwidth-intensive and quality-sensitive applications like videoconferencing. But now many barriers to adoption have been banished, at least for large enterprises — high-speed bandwidth has become more affordable and video systems have become simpler to deploy. Now videoconferencing is becoming one of the standardly deployed components of UC systems.According to IDG Enterprise’s 2012 Unified Communications & Collaboration Survey, 52 percent of respondents are spending on telepresence, though moderately. And 36 percent consider video a key component of their UC and collaboration approach.
“It’s a perfect storm, helping the adoption of video. People are collaborating…some with people from three to five locations. Travel budgets are being cut, and it’s easier to adopt video,” says Bill Zakowski, senior manager in Avaya’s Unified Communications Solutions Marketing group. “We’re seeing product managers, program managers, engineers see video as a way to help build teams and help people perform better.”
For companies using videoconferencing, free applications aren’t particularly compelling. They tend to be designed for consumers and lack the business-grade quality controls of enterprise tools. In fact, less than half of IDG Enterprise’s respondents used Skype and only one-quarter of them use the video chat capability of instant messaging tools.
Instead, companies are focusing their investments on established enterprise vendors with roots in networking hardware, business software and communications applications. In the 2012 Unified Communications & Collaboration Survey, 50 percent of respondents identified Cisco as a UC thought leader, 32 percent named Microsoft and 22 percent pointed to Avaya. It’s no surprise, then, that Gartner also pointed to these same three companies as leaders in the research firm’s 2011 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications report.
Each of these vendors offers an integrated UC package that includes an integrated video collaboration tool. Cisco’s version is called Jabber, Microsoft Lync includes videoconferencing and Avaya’s UC platform has Aura. That’s not to say that the choice