Embedding Video into Unified Communications: Strategies and Results
Unified Communications Edge Advisory Board member Hyoun Park, the Communications Research Editor in the Information Technology Group at Aberdeen, writes that video is a far more potent tool -- and one that is used far more often -- when it is structured within a unified communications platform. Tying video into UC also paves the way to fast and verifiable ROI, Park contends.
In the August 2009 report, Enterprise Video Collaboration, Aberdeen studied the behaviors and business performance of over 140 respondents using video. In studying their results, the amalgam of video collaboration capabilities into a unified communications (UC) environment was a key step for gaining value and measuring hard ROI metrics from a video solution.
First, when Aberdeen compared companies that had leveraged video into unified communications compared to those that used video as a stand-alone solution, we found that unified communications led to more than a two-fold increase in the percentage of employees using video over the last 12 months. For companies using stand-alone solutions, 27% of employees had used video in the last 12 months compared to 64% of employees in companies that included the ease of access associated with embedding video capabilities into an enterprise or business communications solution.
This integration also led to a greater percentage of meetings being held with video capabilities. Interestingly, Aberdeen saw a steady progression of video-enabled meetings from companies that only used stand-alone video solutions to those planning to use an integrated UC and video environment to those who were already using these UC-enabled environments.
Figure 1: Video Usage for Internal and External Meetings
Over 70% of these companies had achieved three key capabilities associated with companies that pursued a UC-enabled video solution.
- Firewall traversal for video collaboration outside the organization
- Interoperability between desktop and fixed-room solutions
- Business-to-business video calling ability
These businesses actively sought to break down the walls between sharing video content on a B2B basis, yet kept the ease of use that prevented end users from worrying whether to use room-based, desktop, PC-based, or telepresence solutions. By giving the end users access for both casual and formal video solutions, these companies provided the tools needed to translate technology and collaboration into business value.
This business value was reflected in the fact that organizations with UC-based video capabilities were also more likely to have equated their video solution with a solid return on investment. The only companies that were able to demonstrate an annual ROI of over 200% per year were those that had already integrated video into their UC solution. This integration ended up being a pre-requisite to supporting a video solution that met the business needs of the enterprise that aligned with hard metrics associated with ROI. For instance, by bringing products to market more quickly, accelerating face-to-face meetings in the sales cycle, and distributing marketing content to targeted viewers, businesses could progress beyond the vague feeling of having received value. Instead, they could align the psychological benefits of a compelling and collaborative experience with business metrics more akin to the metrics associated with business process management and communications-enabled business processes.