Tag Archives: conferencing

Zoom and DTEN to release home video conferencing device

Zoom and DTEN plan to release an all-in-one touchscreen video conferencing device for home use next month. It’s among the first of an emerging new category of collaboration devices for remote workers.

The online meetings vendor also announced a new program called Zoom for Home, which lets customers use specific video devices at home without extra software licenses.

The moves demonstrate how collaboration providers have adjusted their portfolios to cater to people working from home because of the pandemic. Vendors like Zoom are betting that many people will continue working remotely for the foreseeable future.

Zoom is on the right track with these announcements, said Craig Williams, CIO of telecommunications gear-maker Ciena, a Zoom customer.

“We all need to move the capabilities of the corporate office to the home office best we can,” Williams said. “There are some challenges with doing that, but Zoom for Home is a good technology to test out.”

However, some Ciena employees need a product that offers a more immersive experience than the new DTEN device can provide, Williams said. The company’s product developers need not only whiteboarding features, but also wearable devices to mimic face-to-face interactions. Ciena is still looking for the right product for them.

Picture of DTEN ME
The DTEN ME, a 27-inch touchscreen device for Zoom video conferencing at home, launches in August.

The new 27-inch DTEN device, called the DTEN ME, should appeal to executives, teachers and customer support workers. They often need a better video conferencing experience than webcams can offer, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research.

At $599, the device is less expensive than similar all-in-one touchscreen products on the market today. For example, online retailer CDW is selling the Cisco Webex Desk Pro for nearly $7,000 and the older Cisco DX80 for more than $3,200. The price tag of such devices has kept many companies from buying them for anyone except top executives.

“The $600 price point makes it the first such device to actually have a chance to gain market adoption,” said Brian Doherty, an analyst at Gartner.

The device costs about as much as buying a monitor, speakers, camera and microphone — but it comes with added benefits, Doherty said. Those perks include native Zoom integration and built-in whiteboarding capabilities.

The new DTEN device probably won’t cause Cisco to lower the cost of its existing all-in-one video devices. But it may inspire Cisco to design new products that aren’t so underpowered and overpriced, Doherty said.

Meanwhile, the new Zoom for Home program will let customers connect a personal Zoom account to certain video conferencing devices that were previously reserved for use in the meeting room.

When businesses install a Zoom room system in a conference room, they pay $49 per month to license that device for shared use. With Zoom for Home, all free and paid users can sync some of those same devices with a personal account at no extra charge. That includes linking the devices with a user’s Zoom Phone plan.

The Poly X series, the Neat video bar and the new DTEN device are among the first products eligible for Zoom for Home, which provides IT admins with only limited management features. For example, they won’t be able to take full remote control of the hardware.

The DTEN ME and Zoom for Home are scheduled to launch in August.

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Facebook to launch Workplace Rooms in challenge to Zoom

Facebook plans to expand the video conferencing features of Workplace by Facebook, its business collaboration product. But the enhanced service, Workplace Rooms, will lack numerous advanced meeting features at launch in June.

Facebook is late to the game, analysts said. The social media giant has grown Workplace by Facebook to 5 million paid users over the past few years. But the company hasn’t attempted to build a business-class video service until now.

Facebook last month launched Messenger Rooms, a consumer video calling product. The company is now adapting that product for business use in Workplace. The Workplace product will integrate with single sign-on software and provide some control to IT admins.

But Workplace Rooms won’t initially support polls, in-meeting chat, breakout rooms, personal meeting rooms or virtual backgrounds. It also won’t give hosts the ability to control who can present or speak in a meeting. The service lets users invite external guests to meetings.

What’s more, the product will come with a size limitation. Only 50 people will be able to join a meeting. Rivals like Zoom and Cisco Webex let hundreds of people participate in sessions on their platforms.

Facebook Workplace Rooms will display up to 16 people on screen at one time, compared to 25 people in Webex and 49 people in Zoom. The ability to see many simultaneous video feeds has become an essential feature amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook will undercut competitors on price, however. Zoom, for example, costs $14.99 to $19.99 per host, per month for a premium license. Businesses can get access to Workplace Rooms and the premium version of Workplace for $4 or $8 per user, per month.

screenshot of Workplace Rooms
Facebook plans to add Workplace Rooms, a video calling feature, to its business collaboration product in June.

Facebook also has a free version of Workplace and gives nonprofits complimentary access to a premium edition. Workplace mimics the interface and features of the consumer version of Facebook. But the two platforms are separate, requiring users to create different accounts on each.

Julien Codorniou, vice president of Workplace by Facebook, said the company did not intend to match more mature platforms like Webex on features. Instead, Facebook wants Workplace Rooms to do “85% of the job for 99% of the people,” he said.

Facebook intends to bring video conferencing to portions of the workforce that have never used such technology before, Codorniou said. Many Workplace by Facebook customers are multinational companies with a significant proportion of service workers.

“We don’t go after just the market of knowledge workers,” Codorniou said. “We go after the market of everybody who’s employed with a working mobile device. That’s billions of people who have never touched IT before.”

But it remains to be seen how many nonoffice workers will adopt video conferencing platforms. It’s also not certain that Workplace by Facebook customers will use Workplace Rooms.

Customers previously reported using Workplace by Facebook primarily as an intranet replacement, rather than a team collaboration service like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Facebook added a basic video calling feature to Workplace for internal use in 2017.

“They’re casting a line, and they’re going to see if they get any nibbles or not,” said Brian Doherty, an analyst at Gartner.

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Cisco looks to close gaps in Webex Teams video conferencing

Cisco has promised to bring more advanced video conferencing features to Webex Teams eventually. But for now, users must rely on the vendor’s Webex Meetings product for full-featured video calling.

Cisco has been working for years to bring the two apps closer together. But despite relying on the same cloud infrastructure, Teams still lags behind its collaboration cousin.

Webex Teams lacks polls, in-meeting chat, screen-sharing with remote desktop control, 5×5 video displays and key host settings like the ability to automatically mute attendees upon entry.

What’s more, Webex Teams users cannot access essential video conferencing features without a license for Webex Meetings. Those capabilities include meeting recording, guest access and dial-in numbers.

Despite marking Webex Teams as an all-in-one collaboration app, Cisco generally sells the product in a bundle with Webex Meetings.

“We are actively working to bring all the advanced video conferencing capabilities of the Webex Meetings to Webex Teams,” Cisco said in an emailed statement.

Later this month, Cisco plans to address one significant shortcoming in Webex Teams by expanding the product’s video display. The app will soon support a 3×3 video grid. But it will still show fewer video panels than Webex Meetings, which has a 5×5 array.

Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams
Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams

Demand for large group video meetings has soared amid the coronavirus pandemic. People want to be able to see everyone on screen at the same time. Some customers have chosen a video platform based solely on this issue. Cisco did not say when it would enable a 5×5 grid view in Webex Teams.

Another feature missing from Webex Teams is a “health checker” button, like the one in Webex Meetings for troubleshooting connectivity issues. Furthermore, the video interfaces of Webex Teams and Webex Meetings are not identical, which could confuse users who host meetings in both.

Cisco launched Webex Teams as Cisco Spark in 2015. The app initially relied on a separate cloud engine than Webex Meetings. The company later rebranded the product as part of a broader strategy to streamline its portfolio of communications apps.

Unlike competitors Microsoft and Slack, Cisco has not disclosed how many people use its team collaboration app. However, the company said 324 million people attended a Webex meeting in March.

“Obviously, it’s been a work in progress from the Webex Teams side for a couple of years now,” said Josh Warcop, senior solutions engineer at Byteworks, a Cisco reseller. “We’re probably going to see a lot more feature parity here just this year.”

On the flip side, Cisco said it was also working to bring at least two Webex Teams video features to Webex Meetings. One is the ability for anyone to start a meeting, not just the host. The other is the integration of Meetings with video mesh nodes, which let businesses keep some video traffic on premises.

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8×8 Video Meetings launches for free in challenge to Zoom

8×8 has launched a free version of its video conferencing app, hoping to lure businesses into subscribing to its cloud-based calling and contact center suite.

8×8 is challenging Zoom and LogMeIn in launching its first stand-alone video product. The move comes as those vendors have been seeking to penetrate 8×8’s primary market: business calling, also known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS).

Zoom has aggressively expanded its cloud-based business calling service over the past year while LogMeIn has pursued product consolidation. The company recently folded its flagship video conferencing platform, GoToMeeting, into a broader UCaaS offering called GoToConnect.

8×8 Video Meetings places no limit on how long meetings can last. In contrast, the free versions of Zoom and GoToMeeting cap meetings at 40 minutes. 8×8’s free version also provides toll-free dial-in options, which are usually a pay-by-the-minute add-on.

“This is certainly a compelling new entrant that will challenge Zoom and GoToMeeting’s freemium offerings,” said Mike Fasciani, analyst at Gartner.

Screenshot of 8x8 Video Meetings
8×8 Video Meetings uses WebRTC to enable browser-based meetings without downloads or plugins.

But only 50 people can meet at once on 8×8’s platform. That’s fewer than the 100-person limit of Zoom’s free version, although more than GoToMeeting’s three-person cap. (Zoom’s paid service can support 1,000 participants, while GoToMeeting’s premium tier can support 3,000.)

Users can access 8×8 Video Meetings without registering. However, signing up with an email address unlocks benefits such as calendar integration, team admin controls, and personalized virtual meeting rooms. In turn, 8×8 will try to convince users who register to become paying customers.

8×8 Video Meetings launched in September for businesses subscribed to the vendor’s X Series suite, which includes calling, messaging and contact center apps. 8×8 built the product using the open source software of Jitsi, which the vendor acquired from Atlassian last year.

Businesses get a couple of perks for using 8×8 Video Meetings as part of the X Series. For those customers, 8×8 Video Meetings includes a call-me feature for connecting to a meeting’s audio. Also, the video app integrates with third-party services, such as single sign-on software.

In the future, 8×8 might create a paid subscription tier for 8×8 Video Meetings. The offering could include advanced features like transcription and meeting room controls, said Eduardo Cocozza, a senior marketing director at 8×8.

Because it relies on WebRTC, 8×8 Video Meetings lets users conduct meetings in web browsers like Chrome and Firefox without downloads or plugins. But desktop and mobile apps are available for those who want them. Highfive, Cisco and BlueJeans have also enabled browser-based video conferencing in recent years.

8×8 is currently beta-testing meeting room software for connecting its video app to software-agnostic endpoints from vendors like Logitech and Poly. 8×8 is in the process of cementing partnerships with hardware vendors for preintegrated room kits, Cocozza said.

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Vonage Meetings rounds out vendor’s cloud portfolio

Vonage plans to add a homegrown video conferencing app to its cloud-based business communications portfolio in December. The move is the latest example of a UC vendor combining calling, messaging and meetings.

Vonage Meetings, currently in beta, is scheduled to launch in December for businesses subscribed to Vonage’s cloud UC product. The vendor said it would not make the meetings platform available as a stand-alone offering.

Vonage currently provides video conferencing capabilities to customers through a partnership with Amazon Web Services, which makes the meetings app Amazon Chime. Vonage built the new platform using technology inherited through its acquisition of TokBox in 2018.

The release of Vonage Meetings follows moves by competitors, including 8×8, which launched a revamped meetings product in September. Market leaders Microsoft and Cisco have also built out all-in-one communications suites that include video over the last couple of years.

Vonage has a strategy of building a technology stack that doesn’t rely on third parties, said Raúl Castañón-Martinez, analyst at 451 Research. “This is a bold move but will allow them more flexibility in terms of defining their roadmap.”

Vonage Meetings will be fully integrated with the vendor’s voice platform to let users quickly move between voice and video calls. Guests will be able to join meetings using a web browser without installing a client or plug-in.

Vonage said it would provide customers with a log of past meetings, including a record of in-meeting chats.

Vonage now has a single cloud platform from which it can deliver voice and video services, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. “I think that will work as a very good competitive advantage for them moving forward.”

In the future, Vonage will need to integrate Vonage Meetings with conference room equipment and software, Kerravala said. Also, the vendor should focus on improving its relatively basic messaging app.

Vonage announced the meetings platform this week at Vonage Campus 2019, a user conference in San Francisco. The company also released a new logo as it continues to pivot away from the consumer market.

Founded in 2001, Vonage was among the first vendors to offer internet-based phone service to consumers, but, more recently, has transformed into a business-to-business company.

“I think the Vonage that we knew as the consumer-first company is quickly winding down,” Kerravala said.

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Cisco wants to help developers build Webex integrations

Cisco is encouraging developers to innovate on the web conferencing platform Webex Meetings as third-party integrations become an increasingly crucial differentiator in the market for collaboration software.

The vendor has added a new Webex Meetings page to its website for developers. The page includes tutorials, sample source codes and a full catalog of API reference documents. Those resources will help developers customize how their organization manages users and data through Webex.

Cisco also hosts a cloud-based “sandbox” where developers can design and test Webex integrations and offers one-on-one support to members of its developer program, Cisco DevNet. More than 500,000 developers have registered for the program, but many are focused on networking rather than collaboration.

Cisco is in the midst of an overhaul of its collaboration portfolio that includes the merging of its team collaboration app, formerly known as Cisco Spark, with the online meetings platform Cisco Webex, which has more than 135 million users.

Beyond rebranding the two platforms — as Webex Teams and Webex Meetings — Cisco also refreshed their user interfaces and combined them onto the same back-end infrastructure.

In addition to the revamped DevNet page, Cisco is also highlighting its Android SDK for Webex Teams, the product of a new partnership with Google. The tool will help developers add the messaging and meetings features of Webex Teams to Android devices.

Webex integrations increase business value of the platform

Vendors rely on an ecosystem of partners to improve their platforms by developing value-added integrations with other apps. For example, Google recently added several Webex integrations to Google Calendar, making it easier for G Suite users to schedule and join Webex meetings.

Integrations expand the possible use cases of a platform, making it more valuable to businesses, said Alan Lepofsky, a principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif.

“In the highly competitive collaboration market, vendors such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Cisco, Salesforce and Slack are all competing for developer mindshare,” Lepofsky said. “They try and entice partners to develop new features and third-party integrations by offering both financial and marketing incentives.”

In the team collaboration market, Slack has been particularly successful at curating an ecosystem of developers. Open APIs helped the startup challenge established vendors like Cisco and Microsoft and inspired many vendors to embrace a similar approach. (This week, Slack said it was valued at $7.1 billion, up from $5.1 billion less than one year ago.)

Even Microsoft has taken steps to open its historically closed system as it attempts to boost adoption of Microsoft Teams, the cloud-based successor to Skype for Business. This spring, for example, the vendor released a new line-of-business app store for Teams, where organizations can upload custom integrations.

Cisco has also given customers tools to customize their use of Webex Teams. But the app stores of both Microsoft and Cisco still trail Slack’s directory, which contains more than 1,500 prebuilt integrations with third-party business apps.

GoToMeeting client adds business messaging to chase rivals

LogMeIn has added an instant messaging client and meeting transcriptions to its flagship web conferencing platform, GoToMeeting, as the vendor plays catch-up with rivals Cisco Webex and Zoom.

GoToMeeting’s business messaging supports 1-to-1 and group chats, letting users launch a video meeting with one click. The conversations are persistent, meaning they don’t disappear when the app is closed, and the interface shows when users are online, offline or in a meeting.

The GoToMeeting client adds external collaborators to the messaging channel by inviting them via email. Other messaging clients, such as the team collaboration apps Slack and Microsoft Teams, let users add external participants to meeting channels by creating guest accounts.

The updates released this week bring the GoToMeeting client more in line with Zoom and Cisco Webex, which have supported messaging for some time. But most GoToMeeting users probably already have other messaging clients, such as Microsoft Skype for Business or Cisco Jabber.

“My sense of GoToMeeting is that they have fallen behind their competitors like BlueJeans, Zoom, Cisco, PGi, etc., in terms of features and functionality,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

LogMeIn closed a deal to acquire GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and GoToTraining from Citrix for $1.8 billion in early 2017. The company’s portfolio also includes Join.me, a web conferencing platform for small businesses, and OpenVoice, a conference call service.

Earlier this year, LogMeIn bought unified-communications-as-a-service vendor Jive Communications, which provides hosted VoIP services to small and midsize businesses. LogMeIn has yet to release details about an expected consolidation of Jive’s offerings with GoToMeeting.

GoToMeeting client gets automated transcription, Alexa integration

GoToMeeting will now automatically transcribe meeting recordings for customers subscribed to its upper-tier “pro” and “plus” plans. The vendor will also let customers store recordings in the cloud for the first time.

Automated transcription is quickly becoming a must-have feature for cloud-based web conferencing platforms. Zoom, BlueJeans and Microsoft Teams all announced transcription capabilities of some kind earlier this year.

GoToMeeting’s transcripts will be searchable and include timestamps that hyperlink to specific locations within the video recording. They will also identify speakers by name and provide a breakdown of how many minutes each participant spent talking during the meeting.

New integrations with Amazon Alexa, meanwhile, will let GoToMeeting users schedule, reschedule, join and cancel meetings using Echo voice assistant devices. Users will also be able to check their daily meeting schedule.

Google Hangouts Meet adds interoperability with competitors

Businesses will soon be able to join meetings on Google’s web conferencing platform, Google Hangouts Meet, using Microsoft Skype for Business and video conferencing systems from Cisco and Polycom.

At the same time, Google is helping several competing video conferencing vendors better integrate with Google Calendar, so users will be able to schedule and join meetings on those platforms without downloads or plug-ins.  

The announcements underscore Google’s commitment to competing with Microsoft Office 365 in the enterprise collaboration market. The consumer tech giant continues to invest in G Suite’s cloud-based applications for web conferencing and team messaging, while also embracing integrations with a wide range of vendors.

“Google has remained a market contender in video conferencing for several years,” said Roopam Jain, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “However, its direction in the past was not concerted, and it seemed to be waiting to squarely jump in with an enterprise-ready tool.”

Google is now partnering with startup Pexip to make Google Hangouts Meet interoperable with standards-based video hardware and Skype for Business, starting later this month. Pexip’s code works behind the scenes, so everyone can participate in the same meeting from different interfaces.

Google Hangouts Meet’s incompatibility with third-party communications applications has slowed adoption of the product since its release last year, particularly among businesses already invested in video conferencing products from legacy vendors, Jain said.

“This is a smart move by Google in a very competitive market, where businesses look for a stable and open collaboration platform that they can invest in,” Jain said. It could also convince more existing G Suite customers to start using Google Hangouts Meet, positioning Google “as a viable alternative to any other leading video conferencing solution in the market,” she said.

Google Calendar add-ons for video conferencing

Cisco Webex is working with Google to let customers schedule and join Webex meetings directly from Google Calendar. The vendors Arkadin, GoToMeeting, LogMeIn, Dialpad, RingCentral, Vidyo and Vonage are working on similar add-ons, Google said.

Google will make those add-ons available in the G Suite app store “in the coming months.” It plans to release details for developers so additional web conferencing vendors can sync with Google Calendar in the future.

Google is also expanding its interoperability with Microsoft Exchange, announcing it will make it possible for G Suite users to book rooms, equipment and other resources registered in Exchange.

Google Hangouts Chat to add guest access

Businesses using Google Hangouts Chat will be able to add external participants to communication channels in the coming months — a feature already supported by all other leading team collaboration apps on the market today.

Google made Hangouts Chat available to G Suite subscribers earlier this year to keep its enterprise portfolio competitive with Microsoft Office 365, which includes Microsoft Teams.

In a 2018 Nemertes Research survey of more than 600 businesses, 10.5% of respondents cited Hangouts Chat as their primary tool for team collaboration. Google ranked fourth behind Microsoft Teams (32.9%), Cisco Spark (21.1%) and Slack (14.5%).

Google is continuing to improve its collaboration products, but it still needs to integrate them with Gmail better, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. For example, users should be able to launch a chat from a Gmail thread.

“They will grow as a threat, while at the same time also integrating with potential competitors,” Lazar said.

Logitech video conferencing kit targets large meeting rooms

Logitech has released a package of video conferencing hardware designed for large meeting spaces and boardrooms. The vendor also previewed a free software patch that will soon give its cameras the ability to frame participants in a meeting automatically.

Logitech Rally is the vendor’s first concerted effort to get its hardware into large conference rooms. The bundle includes a camera, speakers, microphones and control hubs — all new pieces of hardware that Logitech will sell individually.

The Logitech video conferencing kit appears to offer advanced features at an attractive price, said Rob Arnold, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan. Logitech will compete with Cisco and Polycom in the large meeting room market, he said.

“Logitech is finding great success with its video conferencing products, and it makes perfect sense for the company to expand its addressed market,” Arnold said. “Rally’s introduction is part of a natural evolution to fill out Logitech’s product line at the top end of its portfolio.”

Logitech video conferencing kit offers flexibility, affordability

The Logitech Rally USB-connected camera — available now — pans, tilts, zooms and shoots in 4K and 1080p. The microphones and speakers, which will go on sale in the fall of 2018, are separate pieces of hardware, so companies can place the former on a table and install the latter near a video monitor.

The standard Logitech Rally bundles will include one speaker and one microphone, for $1,999, or two speakers and two microphones, for $2,499. Customers will be able to purchase additional microphones for $349 each and piece together up to seven per room. Each microphone covers roughly 150 square feet.

The Logitech video conferencing kit integrates with most web conferencing software, including Microsoft Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts Meet. It can also be used in conjunction with digital whiteboards, such as the Microsoft Surface Hub.

Logitech Rally includes the advanced features required in larger conference rooms at a competitive price, said Ira Weinstein, managing partner of Recon Research Inc., based in Coral Springs, Fla. Logitech is also one of the only vendors to package all the necessary audio and video components for larger rooms into one offering, he said.

“Logitech has been battling — and successfully battling — to step up to the next level,” Weinstein said. “They don’t want to be known as the low-cost provider. They want to be known as the performance and value provider.”

Logitech expands its role in software

Logitech plans to release a free software update in the second half of 2018 that will enable some of its newer camera models to identify and frame human figures in a meeting room automatically. The feature will work with Logitech’s Rally, MeetUp and BRIO cameras.

Logitech RightSight adjusts the camera based on how many people are in the room and where they are sitting. If someone on the right side of the table leaves, the camera will pan left. If all but one person leave, the camera will zoom.

Logitech previously released software to enable its cameras to adjust lighting and correct color automatically and to help its microphones suppress background noise and focus on the current speaker.

“When you combine good software engineering with the ability to put out high-performance products at a good price point, that’s a win,” Weinstein said. “They don’t talk about themselves as a software play, but I see them that way.”

Video conference tools spread among buyers and sellers

Video conference tools are becoming more versatile. As a result, video conferencing vendors are expected to support more features and high definition across multiple endpoints, including mobile devices, desktops and conference rooms. Buyers, too, need to assess more options, as use cases have expanded.

New video conferencing use cases are making visual collaboration a strategic imperative for enterprises, according to a recent report from Aragon Research Inc., an advisory firm based in Morgan Hill, Calif. Aragon views video conference use cases as part of the larger unified communications and collaboration landscape.

More and more, enterprises are trying to align collaboration investments with business outcomes, the report found. As a result, Aragon said it expects to see further growth in video conference tools. For enterprises, video conference use cases — along with quality and reliability — will be key buying criteria. As is the case with most technology purchases, video conference use cases will dictate vendor selection.

“Our advice to enterprise buyers is to first consider what your core requirements are with regard to web and video conferencing,” the report reads. “We encourage buyers to consider which capabilities and products best fit the required use cases that pertain to your enterprise.”

For example, if an enterprise has internal and external-facing use cases for a large number of people, then webcasting tools may be the best fit. In the near future, Aragon added, expect new video conference use cases to arise in 2018 as endpoints become fully mobile, with cars and drones playing a larger role.

Video conference tools across modalities

For video conference vendors, mobility is the new competitive frontier, Aragon said, as vendors look to enable video meetings from anywhere on any device. But buyers beware, as video experiences on mobile devices and the ease of accessing meetings can vary.

The Aragon report advised buyers to carefully evaluate providers for ease of connectivity. For instance, the mobile application should automatically connect to the meeting via voice over IP or dial-in. Additionally, the mobile app should not require a passcode and provide one-click connectivity.

“Ease of use is not optional, no matter the device or the environment,” the report stated. “Albeit there are still providers today who are not optimized for mobile.”

In addition to mobile, video conference vendors are expected to support desktop and room-based meetings to allow seamless switching among devices.

Conference rooms get video upgrades

Because of cloud technology and lower hardware prices, Aragon predicted fivefold growth in video-enabled conference rooms from 2017 to 2022. In five years, 65% of conference rooms will be video-enabled, Aragon said.

Enterprises need to digitize conference rooms, open workspaces and smaller huddle areas, Aragon advised, as employees face new work demands, including increased collaboration across groups, distances and affiliations.

Collaboration providers that fail to support business process and application integration will miss this wave and be left behind.

Aragon also cited the importance of “intelligent” video rooms, where meetings can be automated and employ artificial intelligence to gain a deeper understanding of meeting activity and the devices and users involved. Many providers have also looked to enhance meetings by using HD video with auto-zoom and HD audio with auto-muting of background noise.

As video conference tools evolve, businesses are demanding high-quality, high-resolution meetings. To date, Avaya, Cisco, Google and Vidyo offer 4K video support, Aragon said. The research firm said it expects to see more support for 4K video in 2018 and beyond.

In addition to HD quality, video conference vendors are now expected to integrate with other business applications. Collaboration providers that fail to support business process and application integration will miss this wave and be left behind, Aragon said.

Chart vendor roadmaps

Overall, as video conference tools evolve — thanks to cloud technology — vendors and buyers are also expected to evolve to stay competitive and enhance collaboration workflows. The cloud is one of the key reasons for the widespread video conference tools today.  

The wide-ranging Aragon report, written by Aragon CEO and lead analyst Jim Lundy, highlights the convergence of web and video conferencing services and examines 22 providers in the market. The report, released this month, stated real-time video conference tools bring together geographically dispersed teams visually, which can improve collaboration.

“Enterprises need to realize visual collaboration can help speed up internal employee and external customer journeys to get to faster business outcomes,” Lundy said in a statement. “The enterprises who are leveraging visual collaboration have a competitive advantage because they’re supporting how their people and customers need and want to work.”

The report advised enterprises to ask for detailed roadmaps from providers to ensure they mesh with enterprise technology and business direction.