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What YouTube has done for video on the Web seems almost miraculous, but when you think about how much people like to see themselves acting goofy on the screen, it’s not so surprising.

After all, ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has had a good run. Launched in 1989, it is still going.

Fortunately for IT solution providers, video is more than just getting a few laughs from watching people make fools of themselves.

Video is a viable business tool. And to prove it, The Channel Insider’s sister publication CIO Insight conducted research recently indicating that IP-based video is high on the priority lists of many people who make IT buying decisions in corporations.

Video, in fact, trounced other technologies, including storage and desktop virtualization, WiMax, and utility or “pay-as-you-go” computing.

Thirty-four percent of IT executives polled by CIO Insight for its Emerging Technologies Survey voted for video over the Web as the emerging technology most likely to provide business value in the immediate future. IP-based video outscored the No. 2 technology—business process platforms/management suites—by 10 percentage points.

Service-oriented architecture, which has been gaining momentum steadily, came in a close third, tying with smart cards. Twenty-three percent of poll participants identified these emerging technologies as the most likely to deliver business value.

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The strong interest in Internet-based video undoubtedly has to do with the success of YouTube. As often happens with emerging technologies, first a particular technology gains acceptance in the home environment. As users grow accustomed to the technology, they start to depend on it, and when that happens, they also start to expect to use it at work.

But YouTube isn’t the only reason IP-based video is gaining acceptance in the workplace. As my colleague David Strom wrote in “Are You Ready for Some IPTV?” in the July issue of eWEEK Strategic Partner, improvements in Web-based and live videoconferencing, in addition to the ease and declining costs of creating video content, are making the technology more viable for corporate networks.

The challenge, of course, is to ensure that these networks are up to the task. Sure, YouTube is great in many ways, but the video quality often leaves much to be desired. In the corporate world, grainy images and out-of-sync sound simply will not do. After all, videoconferencing has been around for years, but it never gained much traction because of low quality.

Solution providers wanting to expand into IP video have their work cut out for them. Those who rise to the challenge will face a lot of hard work assessing network infrastructure and recommending and implementing the upgrades necessary to make the use of video in corporate networks as agreeable to users as, say, e-mail or surfing the Web.

They will have to make sure the infrastructure they put in place to handle video can handle the load.

Solution providers with experience in networking and VOIP (voice over IP) are likely the most qualified to handle video, but the market also will have room for newcomers who do their homework.

Given the current high level of interest in IP-based video among end users, as demonstrated by CIO Insight’s research, solution providers had better seriously think about video as a revenue source.

Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for The Channel Insider. He can be reached at