The Videoconferencing Game is Changing

As one of the key themes of InfoComm 2012 (and of our industry, too, for that matter), the education session titled “Why Interoperability is a Game Changer for Video” should have been standing-room only. In fact, there were maybe 20 to 25 attendees in the session,  which was surprising given the compelling title. These days, AV pros need to be attentive to any number of potential game-changers and disruptive technologies.

Krish Ramakrishnan, Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Jeans Network, ran the session. His company has created a cloud-based system that can help bridge disparate videoconferencing systems — something that may qualify as a game changer in the videoconferencing space.

During the Q&A part of the session, a most interesting dynamic took place. Judging by the questions asked and the stated affiliations of the askers, it was clear that at least half in attendance represented end-user organizations — higher education, a law firm, government. There were also some AV systems integrators in the room, and the most telling question came from one of them: “How do we in the AV channel ‘change the game?’” It was a relevant question and a timely one too. More than that, to me it symbolizes an underlying issue in the pro AV world; an issue that we don’t like to talk about in public.

Over the last several years, more end-user tech managers have been attending InfoComm and its sessions. In many cases, these people are the customers of the AV systems integrators. It’s true that an informed customer is a good customer, but if you’re the AV systems integrator, it depends on who is doing the informing (and thus establishing themselves as the credible solution provider). In this case, it seemed clear that Ramakrishnan’s message was targeted not at the AV systems integrator, but the tech managers in the audience. I think the question was driven by the fact that it wasn’t clear what the role of AV systems integrators could possibly be with something like a cloud-based videoconferencing offering. I got the feeling that the end-user attendees were becoming genuinely excited by the message presented, but that the AV integrators in the room were a little… unsettled.

It’s true that something like Blue Jeans potentially represents a real solution to one of  thebiggest problems in conferencing – the interoperability of different devices and platforms. I do believe that the Blue Jeans offering could be a bona fide game changer, but it may not be a game the traditional AV integrator is invited to play.

About Mark Mayfield

Mark Mayfield is Cinema Marketing Manager for QSC Audio Products. He has an extensive background as a recording/live sound engineer and AV products marketing executive with firms such as Bose Corp., Harman International (JBL Professional), Loud Technologies (EAW), and Extron Electronics. Most recently, he was a senior analyst with Wainhouse Research, a market research firm focused on unified communications and collaboration technology. In addition, he has held editorial positions with several major trade industry publications, where he re-launched Pro AV magazine and co-founded AV Technology magazine.

7 Responses to “The Videoconferencing Game is Changing”

  1. the interoperability of disparate videoconference systems is something definitely needed. a few issues may arrise such as security and quality. but it is a welcome technology. one of the most annoying things for a company is to buy or rent new equipment because it isn’t compatible with someone else’s im interested to see how this develops.

  2. With bluejeans kind of solution, the quagmire for enterprises will be security!!
    Bluejeans offering is their own proprietary cloud — all of your video traffic will flow through their cloud !! Will that be acceptable from a security and confidentiality stand point for enterprises?

  3. i work for TECHNO TANK Consultants wherein i am the Head-Projects in videoconferencing solutions.
    In the presence of quite many players like POLYCOM,LIFESIZE,TANDBERG oops …say
    CISCO and OTHERS….. have their embedded encoders designed to suit not-so–affordable bandwidth. Also to go further MPEG 4 has reduced the bandwidth reality !!!In this scenario when the end users are bombarded by the larger then life jargon like ISDN/H.323 with control,multiplexing,video,audio,text chat,encryption …..how does the cloud computing resolve the compatibility issues where the end user has already installed the hardware ….AV integrators need to understand the potential of cloud computing …..as we live ahead in the era to save our fuel and in search of alternate energy drive and we live in the virtual world of sharing and INTEROPERABILITY is the need of the hour …cloud computing can change the current videoconferencing habits !!!!

  4. I agree that AV is becoming much more about enterprise-wide video (and audio, of course – rarely mentioned). As AV professionals, we must learn to live and work in the collaboration environment where traditional AV is not necessarily the central focus.

    That said, disasters will occur (and have occurred) when network-centricity is the only view taken in AV implementation, whether it be hang-and-bang presentation rooms, high-end AV, “traditional” videoconferencing, or telepresence.

    Both AV and IT professionals must learn what they need to know to work with the other to create successful projects. They must be both knowledgeable and and accepting about where appropriate demarcations are between each other’s roles and expertise.

  5. As an AV Manager in an IT org, it’s great to stay informed by way of InfoComm, manufacturer training and trusted integrators as advisors. Each can offer a different take on the changes happening.

    After a recent demo of the Blue Jeans product, it solidified my thoughts of the need for codecs in the conference rooms and solutions like this for our users – wherever they are and with the device of their choice.

  6. Good thoughts Mark. The collaboration industry is just exploding, and it has less and less to do with the traditional “hang and bang” AV integrator every day. I’m looking forward to addressing that trend at the upcoming Wainhouse Collaboration Summit July 17th in Philadelphia. My presentation is called “Video Collaboration: Out of the AV World, Into the Real World, and onto the Cloud.” Hope to see everyone there….

    • Paul Depperschmidt Reply July 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

      I would echo David’s thoughts. I work for Cisco in Global AV Integration Market Development. From my position with one foot in AV and the other in IT/Collaboration it would seem that the AV world really does not have a good grasp on what is coming at them. The TelePresence discussion is no longer confined to the conference room. It is now an Enterprise wide discussion that requires an IT manager to consider all real-time traffic that will run on the network. That includes voice, TelePresence, Digital Signage, Video recording and playback, etc. Add in BYOD and the ability to manage all of the above through Unified Communications and the world has changed considerably.

      End users will quickly understand that it will require looking at all of these applications combined. And they will likely look for one group to manage it. That could be an AV Integrator, but the more likely group would be Network or Telephony Systems Integrators. There will continue to be room installs. Some will be fully custom. But rather than being the central focus they will now become just a part of the overall Collaboration solution.

      All of this is good for the market as it will grow the pie for all. But every AV Integrator must study this trend and determine how they intend to fit in it.