Why Video Conferencing Technology Still Goes Unused

It’s likely that video conferencing technology will continue to go unused in some large organizations and ROI will be reduced dramatically as a result. I’ve read many articles on predictions that video adoption shows promising growth in the enterprise, but in reality usage and adoption are two different things.

Think about when you first bought that Bowflex Home Gym. Dedicated to your new year’s resolution of “getting fit” you were determined you were going to use the Bowflex on a regular basis and it was going to be easy (besides the infomercials made it look like so much fun). You probably did use it for a couple of weeks. Then you left it there in the corner of the garage collecting dust, but still thinking, “I’ll get my money’s worth some day”. Video conferencing technology (software and hardware) in some organizations is doomed to this “Bowflex” fate.

Wait, Videoconferencing Isn’t Awesome?

One of the main arguments for video conferencing being awesome, aside from enabling better collaboration, is that it is cost effective for large organizations. It allows dispersed teams to reach each other quickly and efficiently, reduces delays, improves product time to market, gives salespeople a better means of reaching prospects and closing sales, and gives customer support a way to solve problems faster. But, there are two related issues that challenge the “cost effectiveness” argument.

  • One – it is often painstakingly difficult for IT teams to prove ROI of video collaboration technology.
  • Two – video conferencing will not produce a substantial ROI unless it is being used (like that Bowflex still sitting in your garage).

If you’re someone who uses video daily or weekly like me, then deep down you understand that video is the best modern collaboration technology out there hands down when compared to voice, email, and chat. It’s better not because video conferencing is necessarily cheaper than all of those things, but because it gives you a richness of collaboration that ultimately saves you time.

Use cases for video are not the same for every organization, so it would be silly to assume that every user is going to fall in love with it right away and use it to it’s fullest potential. Achieving maximum utilization is always going to take little creative thinking after deployment.

Video conferencing has a long way to go in terms of becoming the pervasive communication standard that we all want, but we know it has the potential to do big things in the enterprise today if only people would start using it.

3 Reasons Why Video Won’t Get Used in 2016

1.) User experience, user experience, user experience

Despite major improvements in the latest video technology platforms and interfaces in 2015, it is going to take a lot more to reduce friction among users. While video vendors are predicted to compete for several new acquisitions this year for bigger market share, will user experience improve as a result? Poor interoperability has long been an argument for knowledge workers in the enterprise, but now that virtual bridges and hardware technologies are beginning to merge together the experience might just improve on that front.

On the other hand “user experience” is a very broad term and is impacted by many moving parts depending on the organization. Across the board in large video networks however, it often comes down to the technology itself, the users and the short term and long term management of the technology. When new hardware or software systems are deployed, there are many questions that IT is responsible for answering, and with limited resources, what often happens with large deployments is users are left without fully understanding how to use the technology.

With video being somewhat new to people (yes even in 2016) the option of voice, chat and email present themselves as a familiar fallback. Who feels the pain the most when large video deployments take a huge drop in utilization? The company does. And that is because video no longer is or never will have the potential to become the cost effective means of communication that it is supposed to be.

2.) Call quality issues will go unresolved

Across all types of video technologies (Cisco, Polycom, Vidyo, Lifesize, Pexip, Acano, BlueJeans etc.) calls fail. Calls will drop, improper configurations will happen, firewalls will happen, and poor quality will happen with things like jitter, latency, packet loss and low resolution effecting video calls.

Despite the progress many video vendors made in 2015 to improve their products for users and IT departments chimp-laptopwith acquisitions and integrations (Cisco / Acano), there will always be human error and friction between competing technology providers. To further complicate things, in 2016 we will see new use cases for video conferencing which will come with their own sets of quality issues for IT to solve as well. I recently read that chimpanzees received video conferencing equipment in an experiment backed by Peter Gabriel and the Center for Puppetry Arts uses video conferencing to reach student audiences of over 350,000 people with puppets.

Video quality will continue to be an issue as long as video continues to become widespread throughout our workplaces as a result of growing pains. Call quality interruptions, if left unresolved, will do more damage to video usage and eventually adoption as time goes on. Here are a few examples of things that impact video call quality in our ebook: Improving Video Call Quality Beyond the Boardroom

3.) Organizations won’t monitor devices and infrastructure

It’s really not so much that they “won’t”, but more so that they “can’t” track and monitor devices and infrastructure in an efficient way. The time it takes to manually pull reports on usage and adoption across a large organization with a huge user base and multiple devices and technologies (desktops, VMR’s, hardware endpoints) is enough for many busy firefighters in IT to throw in the towel. In the words of Matt Stevenson, CTO at Videonor, “(…) you’re not going to want to do it, and you won’t be able to do it well”. Matt is talking about supporting, monitoring and improving a large video network with limited resources and the tradeoffs that IT has to make to ensure that things get done.

Watch interview with Matt Stevenson (3 minutes)

Videoconferencing reporting and analysis is critical to making video “cost effective” and shouldn’t take hours upon hours to report on, and in 2016 you should be able to monitor and manage the tools and systems that your organization uses to collaborate within asingle platform. Not only that, tracking utilization and adoption across all of your video collaboration technologies helps large organizations to understand ways in which they can optimize collaboration across the organization.