Enterprise Communications


Emerging Trends in Web and Video Conferencing - What's in Store for 2013 and Beyond

by Roopam Jain 14 Jan 2013
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2012 saw another solid year of growth for web and video conferencing among businesses. User demand is growing at a strong pace indicating that web and video meetings are going mainstream.

In a recent Frost & Sullivan survey of C-level executives in North America, web and video conferencing ranked high among key enterprise communication applications for awareness and usage. Eighty five percent of the respondents indicated that they are aware of the benefits of video conferencing with fifty eight percent using it within their companies. Seventy eight percent of the respondents indicated that they are aware of the benefits of web conferencing with sixty percent routinely using it.

Web and video conferencing are now a key part of enterprise communications, drawn into the buying decision by line of business users as well as IT decision makers. Additionally, prices continue to decline making virtual meetings a viable technology for all, including small and mid-sized businesses.

Several emerging trends are changing the face of virtual meetings. The plain old vanilla online meetings of yesterday are giving way to enhanced offerings that include HD video, advanced mobile capabilities, social media integration, and workplace collaboration tools. These trends are increasingly getting intertwined along with a continued focus on improving the user experience. Here’s what to expect in 2013 and beyond.

Mobility 

  • Mobility is all the rage right now and will continue to be the headline stealer in 2013. In 2012, mobile downloads of web meetings grew rapidly. We expect that joining web conferences from mobile devices this year will increase 2 to 3 times over prior year.
  • In 2013 and beyond, vendors will shift strategies and lead with "mobile first". As a result, mobile experiences will move from being second-tier clients to being the main focus of development. Vendors continue to lead with iOS followed by Android.
  • There will be a greater focus on improving the mobile user experience to offer robust host as well as user controls that are currently missing from most mobile extensions.
  • In the future, usage will mostly be driven by the move to "in-app" communications on mobile devices. Companies that lead in delivery of mobile collaboration and content will become the market disruptors. 

Video 

  • Video will continue to see tremendous growth. Bigger screens and 4G speeds make smart phones and tablets the device of choice for online collaboration.
  • As IT continues to tackle the headaches of bandwidth and network management, video usage will grow exponentially.
  • 2013 will bring accelerated growth for cloud-based video conferencing services.
  • We expect the attach rate of video in online meetings to reach 25 percent by 2015. In other words, one in every four online meeting will have a video conferencing component.
  • Video conferencing will move away from hardware-intensive, high priced boxes to "video-for-everyone" over iPads and web-browser based clients, which is how a bulk of users will connect in the future.
  • Users will show preference for communications solutions that offer any-to-any connectivity. A growing number of online meetings will interoperate with standards-based room systems as well as video chat clients.
  • Software-driven solutions, cloud services, and growing virtualization in video conferencing will push out traditional expensive hardware-based solutions and open the floodgates of adoption.

Emergence of Collaborative Workspaces 

  • The pendulum is swinging from discrete online meetings to integrated collaboration.
  • Collaboration is increasingly shifting away from siloed web meetings that are disconnected from user activities to web collaboration fully embedded in applications and services routinely used on PCs and mobile devices.
  • Web conferencing vendors in 2012 focused on combining the elements of project management, video and web chat, file sharing, and social media interactions into one unified experience.
  • In the future, users will increasingly move away from e-mail and rely on optimizing team communications within shared workspaces.
  • Shared workspaces remain dominant for intra-company communications for activities such as project and task management. In 2013, there will be a growing number of workspaces extended for inter-company communications across user communities from multiple enterprises. 

Web RTC – Growing Possibilities 

  • WebRTC is enabling easy browser-to-browser connectivity for real-time applications without the need for a software plug-in. There will be a rapid build-out of applications that will bring in a new level of commoditization in the already fast-changing video and web conferencing markets.
  • Several startups are delivering APIs enabling customers to build their own WebRTC-enabled applications, while others are already delivering browser-based voice and /or video services that leverage WebRTC.
  • While WebRTC lowers the barriers to entry to build real-time communication applications, the current version gives little control or information for sophisticated multiparty sessions. As such, multi-party web and video communication applications in use today will likely remain in demand.
  • As WebRTC technologies continue to mature, there will be growing convergence of the current crop of web conferencing solutions with the emerging WebRTC technology. The growing adoption of WebRTC will force vendors to leverage the protocol to connect users into existing communication experiences.
  • WebRTC is expected to have the biggest impact in customer facing applications that extend companies’ customer service and sales capabilities. Look out for rapid innovation of many new solutions for communications based on WebRTC.

View Roopam Jain's blog

Comments (1)

By  Nhien Le
Sr. Marketing Manager,

07 Mar 2013 09:49
Excellent piece, Roopam. And I can't agree with you more and these data points. BTW, can I get a copy of the Frost & Sullivan survey you referenced? Thank you! -Nhien
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