Enterprise video in 2015: Four perspectives to look at

Gartner’s latest report shows an array of choices for IT decision-makers, which may be part of the problem

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If you think buying holiday gifts is stressful, just try shopping around for enterprise video technology.

It’s not that there’s a lack of choice out there. According to a recent Gartner report, there are options aplenty when it comes to something like enterprise video content management (ECVM) technology.

“Enterprises seeking to establish video on demand through an ECVM system will discover that vendors are competing for their attention,” Gartner analysts Whit Andrews and Adam Preset write in their report.

Not a bad thing if you’re a buyer, right? But the authors warn that customers will likely find the current EVCM marketplace “confusing … immature and still developing.”

That confusion stems from a big shift going on in the enterprise video market overall. As IDC explains in its latest quarterly report on videoconferencing and telepresence equipment, customers want to do more things with video via more platforms using more endpoints. Increasingly, they want to do all this via cloud- and subscription-based solutions.

As this transition continues, enterprise customers now have a mind-boggling array of video options to consider: hardware, software, video-as-a-service (VaaS), huge corporate vendors, tiny agile startups and almost every combination of those imaginable.

Faced with so many choices, enterprise customers “are currently working through (the challenge of) determining exactly when and how to provision their video deployments” while the market is still in flux, states IDC. In other words, many customers are waiting to see what happens – with video technology and pricing – before investing in anything new.

That’s where Gartner’s IT Market Clock for Enterprise Video can come in handy. The report assesses what stage of market maturity each major video technology is in right now. It then recommends an optimal purchasing timeline for each one. Here’s my very abridged breakdown of highlights from the 13-page report.

Consider buying within six to 12 months: Video search, EVCM, 4k videoconferencing, robotic telepresence, soft room endpoints, WebRTC video, h. 265 HEVC. Gartner says these technologies are now moving “from an emerging status to adolescent” market phase. Demand is still relatively low for these products but so is competition among vendors. Gartner advises customers who seek “competitive advantage in advance of market maturity” to consider buying these within the next year.

Consider buying within two years: Mobile videoconferencing, VaaS, transcoderless video, scalable video, software MCU. Vendors are now responding to rising demand for these technologies by offering more product choices. If you already have these systems, look for opportunities to standardize them with the rest of your existing assets as well as planned future purchases. If you’re looking to buy these, wait for increased vendor competition to drive prices lower over the next 24 months.

Sit tight: Video exchange, h. 264 AVC. These are popular technologies that have already come down in price. Customers can continue to leverage these existing solutions because they won’t have to consider replacing them with newer versions or alternative solutions for at least another two to five years, says Gartner.

Retire within two years: Immersive telepresence, h. 263, ISDN videoconferencing. Gartner suggests you replace these with newer alternatives (for example, it recommends transitioning from ISDN to IP videoconferencing) in the next 24 months.

None of this is carved in stone, of course, since each organization has its own unique situation. Gartner’s overall recommendation, however, is useful for all enterprise video customers: look at where you can leverage the flexibility of cloud-based VaaS and develop a formal business plan (including network capacity demand) based on how you want to use video across all units of your organization. That should help bring enterprise video into sharper focus for any customer.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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