Video Conferencing Is the Killer App for Next Decade

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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As technology stalwarts such as Cisco and Logitech place their bets on video technology with announced acquisitions of HD video conferencing vendors Tandberg and LifeSize, the opportunities are rife for solution provider channel partners as well. That's because video conferencing will be considered a component of unified communications systems, explains one Polycom executive. Integrating it all represents a rich field for solution providers.

Looking for the hot application for the next decade? The one that could differentiate your company? Think video.

At least if you believe Logitech and Cisco, which have both announced major acquisitions designed to make them into bigger players in the quickly growing market for HD video conferencing.

"Video is the killer app for the next decade," says Gerald Quindlen, Logitech president and CEO, explaining his company’s move to make its biggest acquisition ever in a growing HD video conferencing company. "We think video should be as mainstream and ubiquitous as audio."

And video has certainly been growing as businesses large and small look to alternatives to business travel and vertical industries such as health care look to new applications, such as telemedicine.

"These acquisitions validate that the industry is a hot industry and that video is moving from a niche application and from an application that runs parallel to the rest of communications," says Joan Vandermate, vice president of marketing at Polycom’s video solutions group. If Cisco’s acquisition of Tandberg goes through and Logitech’s acquisition of LifeSize goes through, Polycom will be the only remaining large independent vendor of HD video conferencing.

Is Polycom for sale, too?

"We don’t really comment on that," says Vandermate. "I guess anything is possible, but we are not actively courting."

But the frenzy of deals among Polycom’s competitors shows the spike of interest in this technology.

"Video is moving mainstream," she says. "It will become a core application in the business world."

Vandermate says the consolidation that is going on right now comes as companies look to build out their portfolio of applications.

But for Polycom it means that partnerships with other vendors will grow in importance. The company boasts such partnerships with Avaya, Nortel, IBM and Microsoft. And that approach gives channel partners an opportunity to add more value as they can put together best-of-breed solutions for both video and the larger set of applications that video is becoming a part of—unified communications.

"Companies want to integrate all that into unified communications," says Vandermate. "Customers want to be able to move from an instant message conversation to a phone call to a video call to a multipoint video call" without dropping anything. "They want it all to be very smooth and tight and not to seem like separate networks."

That’s still a bit of a tall order today.

Another trend in the market has been offering systems that are more affordable for smaller businesses and for remote sites of big businesses. Vandermate says Polycom offers the full range of solutions, with room systems for under $5,000, desktops for under $50 a seat for soft clients and high-end telepresence solutions too.

There are plenty of opportunities for solution provider channel partners in this new world of video communications, says Vandermate. Partners should pursue specialty expertise in video communications and unified communications, she recommends.

"The opportunity lies in the services of integrating it all," Vandermate says. "There is a tremendous opportunity for the reseller market to go after a big piece of the pie."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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