Video conferencing used to be a luxury.
Do you remember when everyone was in awe of video conferencing? That's because the ability to have it signalled status due to its high set-up and maintenance costs.
The large budget that was required for software, hardware and even the real estate of the room itself, made video conference rooms a luxury few could afford. So yes, it was impressive.
In the past, the biggest selling point in favour of video conferencing was the cost-savings that companies would incur by cutting the number of business trips every year. However, business people continued to value face-to-face meetings and this, combined with the fact that few companies had the technical and technological capabilities to participate in a video conference, meant that video conferencing was limited to being an internal form of communication amongst the ‘elite’ companies who had the technology readily available.
As with anything else, technology has evolved and shaken the industry to its core. The emergence of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as a sustainable business model provides organizations with greater flexibility, lower cost of ownership and smoother deployments.
For instance, the internet penetration by quality and reliable services has improved to the point that video conferencing is feasible without the need for a major investment in software, hardware or infrastructure. In most cases, standard broadband IP connections can handle video conferences without a glitch.
The market is drifting farther away from hardware-based endpoints for video conferences. In its place, users are relying on PCs equipped with high quality webcams. Nowadays, webcams have the ability to pan, tilt and zoom, in addition modern computers have decent quality built-in audio equipment like microphones and speakers.
The new hardware technologies enable flexibility, mass deployment, and, more importantly, they make video conferencing feasible to organizations of all sizes.
Video conferencing is a textbook case that exemplifies the power of the network effect. As more and more users become familiar with a specific piece of technology, its adoption grows. This enables more users to embrace it, effectively increasing the power of the network exponentially.
The reality is that video conferencing has graduated from being something with low number of active users to a highly-adopted and readily available technology.