Not Everybody Loves Desktop Videoconferencing

Forrester has released a study on employee reaction to desktop video that can only be considered surprising.

The story at Network World has a lot of the numbers. The bottom line is that this communications channel – which forms a key element of the current and future unified communications sector – isn’t as popular as one may assume.

After all, we live in a world in which video seems to be king. But Forrester reports that 72 percent of the 5,400 business people surveyed don’t want desktop video. Other numbers in the report are less surprising: Relatively few employees have access to desktop video and those numbers are skewed toward higher level executives.  

There is value in the report beyond the disappointing fact – from the unified communications point of view – that a lot of proselytizing remains. For instance, the top three uses are internal communications, executive meetings and distance learning/training (51 percent, 41 percent, 33 percent, respectively). The writer provides percentages on the goals of the relatively small group – 13 percent of respondents – who don’t have access but want it. He points out that the relatively low popularity of the desire to connect better with remote workers may be due to the lack of penetration of desktop video.

IT World reports on the same research and offers some reasons for the lack of excitement about desktop videoconferencing. They include the idea that communicating in this way will cut down on multitasking, reduction in privacy, general reluctance to be on camera, a feeling that a video chat is impersonal compared to meetings or even phone calls and the lack of a clear-cut advantage in using this method. In the comments section of the story, a responder suggested that it is change, not videoconferencing itself, that people object to. The commenter also pointed out that companies that implement videoconferencing carefully achieve better results.

Not everybody is down on desktop video. Paul Valerio, writing at Enterprise Efficiency, discussed his experiences with Skype and ViVu. His reaction was positive to both. He concluded:

I believe this year video conferencing will be deployed as a standard feature on most desktops. Anybody in a sales, marketing, product management, or customer service position will start using more video to communicate. The products are there, and prices are as low as they can get.

The bottom line is that technology is not adopted in a linear fashion. The benefits of desktop video are great, but systems must be implemented adroitly and the advantages spelled out very clearly to end users.

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