Has video conferencing lost its identity?

19 Aug 2019 | Audio Visual Collaboration, Cloud Services, Interactive Technology, Professional Services

The end-user experience should be the central consideration in deploying videoconferencing systems but there are no clear answers on how it should be delivered. But, whether it’s on-premise, or in the cloud, interoperability and usability are key.

Has video conferencing lost its identity?

Video conferencing or whatever you chose to call it, I feel is suffering from an identity crisis. Historically, the marketeers told us to call it teleconferencing, videoconferencing and later telepresence.

In 2019 Google Trends tells me that “collaboration” is the most commonly used term (85%). However, the definition of collaboration is “the action of working with someone to produce something”. At least videoconferencing was self-explanatory! Let’s not stop there…


Are they even called that anymore? Room systems? Let’s go with that. Do users even go to rooms unless they have to? Compute or traditional Codec? And, interoperability? For me, this is where the heart of the problem lies.

Immersive Rooms are officially dead, and each meeting room proposition is facing relegation. Large meeting rooms are being deployed less, medium-sized rooms are unfavourable, leaving users wanting to either meet from their desk or in smaller groups. Why? Agile and home working means groups of people don’t simply get up from a desk and walk to a meeting room. Participants are remote and mobile. User appetite is changing the market. And, so it should. Right?

As I see it, manufacturers who care about open UC interoperability are fewer than ever, especially in the meeting room. It would seem that only the traditional Codec is capable of interoperability and the preferred “compute” systems are platform specific.

It’s in the cloud

Experts, analysts, and consultants would have us all believe the future of video is in the cloud. Yes, but no. Another category with ever-changing names, remember VaaS? Cloud video does meet the needs of many applications. But, not all. Already in 2019, we have delivered hybrid and on-premise solutions on a large scale. On-prem is not dead!

Enterprise, enterprise, enterprise

Does anyone care about the mid-market anymore? Wainhouse Research has a whole category named “Enterprise Video”, I listen to / watch podcasts and all I hear about is what the enterprise wants or needs. To summarise, yes, I believe videoconferencing has lost its identity. However, one could argue that the identity is not impacting user experience. Interoperability failed in the ’00s, executive VC rooms are no longer needed. We just connect by video and it works. When we need external participants, we use a guest invite and hey, that works too. Thanking WebRTC for that!

What next?

Right now, I feel that organisations and users are focused on platforms first. They pick a platform (Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans, etc) and should build around their platform. Room systems are inexpensive and deliver end-user results. The identity now is platform, choice of platform, how it is deployed, used and adopted. Which is all about the end-user experience and how it should always have been. Is this the future I hoped for in videoconferencing? No! But it’s a future and I await the next twist in the tale.