Home/ Industry / Infotech/  More companies adopt video on the move

Mumbai: As a convenience and a cost-buster, video conferencing has been a necessary part of doing business for more than a decade. What’s changing is that it’s increasingly going mobile—on desktops, laptops, tablets and even smartphones—helping companies cut travel expenses and increase productivity.

It has had a dramatic impact at Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (Iffco), where the annual appraisal exercise took two months because it involved 700-800 employees and the appraisal committee members were travelling to Delhi from all over India.

“Now, they can be finished in 10 days. For international joint ventures, board meetings are done through video conferencing," said S.C. Mittal, senior executive director and group chief technology officer, adding that Iffco uses Internet Protocol or IP-based telephones for video conferencing.

The Jaypee Group has been able to double “productivity with its video conferencing solution" as employees across the country now collaborate face-to-face at any time from wherever they are, said Sunita Joshi, director and chief investment officer, JIL Information Technology Ltd, the infotech arm of Jaypee Group.

Mobility won’t completely replace boardroom video conferencing but is a key element that needs to be provided at enterprises, said Parminder Kaur Saini, industry manager, Frost and Sullivan (India) Pvt. Ltd. Video on the move—that’s clearly what companies and their employees want.

On the other hand, enterprise video conferencing and telepresence (high-resolution images that make participants feel they are in the same room) equipment and software revenue declined 20% from the December quarter to $661 million in the quarter ended 31 March, Infonetics Research said in a report this month. The report added that videophones, the fastest growing hardware endpoint segment, posted another strong quarter.

The surge in mobile adoption and the bring your own device (BYOD) trend is driving enterprises to enable video communication from multiple devices and locations. BYOD refers to employees using devices of their own choosing, rather than those determined by their companies.

Polycom Inc., one of the world’s biggest makers of video conferencing equipment, agrees that mobility is the key. “Video conferencing platforms must go mobile in order to stay in the game," said Polycom’s India marketing head Alok Anand.

Along with equipment makers such as Polycom and Cisco Systems Inc., telecom service providers Bharti Airtel Ltd, Tata Communications Ltd and Reliance Communications Ltd also offer video conferencing solutions.

“Given that clients today demand ubiquitous solutions, Airtel’s offering provides a unique feature that allows interoperability of any platform or device (mobile phone, PC, laptop, tablet), exchange of video conferencing between all network providers and availability of service in any geography around the world," said Milan Rao, chief executive officer of enterprise and government business at India’s largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel, which provides video conferencing solutions in partnership with Cisco.

Peter Quinlan, vice-president, integrated business video services, Tata Communications, said, “The global business scenario is moving towards software-centric solutions, virtualization, cloud-based offerings, and real-time browser-based communications."

Video conferencing has become a critical part of operations, said Minhaj Zia, director of collaboration sales, India and Saarc, Cisco Systems.

“Enterprises are asking—why can’t I use video as part of my business process itself, where I can connect with my customers directly. Many experiments are going on by customers to have video-based business models like a bank’s branch with no executives and customers can directly connect with the bank through video conferencing," Zia said. For instance, virtual fitting rooms using Cisco technology enable the design team of fashion apparel brand Tommy Hilfiger, based in Amsterdam and New York, to collaborate faster and more effectively with the manufacturing team in Asia.

“From being considered as an add-on solution, it (video conferencing) has made its way to mainstream corporate communication and collaboration strategy," said Nupur Singh Andley, analyst at Forrester Research, adding that the “availability of consistent bandwidth is an issue in markets such as India".

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Updated: 20 Jun 2013, 12:18 AM IST
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