WHEN MICROSOFT paid $8.5bn for Skype it was proof that voice and video over internet protocol (VoIP) technologies had arrived. They were no longer merely regarded as a fun consumer tool for talking with aunties on the other side of the world, but were becoming a key part of the business IT landscape.
The selling point that made Skype such a success was that it was so easy for people to use the video-calling technology, helping millions understand the benefits the technology could offer, including those at Redmond looking to splash the cash.
Apple must also take some credit for this rise, with its Facetime services on its Iphone devices helping millions more realise the benefits, and fun, of face-to-face calls, making video conferencing a more accepted means of conversation, as Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom noted.
"VoIP use is definitely being embedded in a lot of organisations now. Use of SIP has made things a lot easier, and the use of Quality of Service and better codecs has made quality much better," he said.
"Hosted systems are getting a lot better to use as well – multi-conferencing capabilities, integration into applications, ease of management and reporting are all pretty good from many players now."
However, while the technical capabilities of video systems are now well-established, there are still hurdles that need to be overcome, as Cisco's chief technology officer for the UK, Ian Foddering explained.
"Lots of the issues around concerns relating to security, reliability and redundancy have now been answered, but the biggest challenge remains changing the culture within organisations," he said.
The Olympics could well be seen as a watershed moment for the use of video conferencing as many organisations took advantage of the technology to try and avoid the doom and gloom predicted for the travel networks in and around London before the event.
"With the Olympics, businesses looked at the use of services like Webex and video conferencing tools and we're hoping that in the afterglow of the Olympics this will help businesses begin to really embrace the use and benefits of video," added Foddering.
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