Meeting Room Video Conferencing – A Brave New World

First the Earth Cooled

Video conferencing devices for the enterprise conference room were first introduced in the mid-to-late 1980s, which is roughly a million Internet years ago.

Deployments back then were based on dedicated devices running dedicated applications on dedicated networks in dedicated conference rooms.

Fast forward to today and the situation could hardly be more different.  Meeting room video conferencing is now provided in many different forms.  In fact, some rooms support multiple ways to host or participate in a video session.

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New Market Dynamic Requires New Market Data Approach

At Recon Research, we conduct ongoing discussions with IT managers, collaboration / UC managers, facilities managers, and actual meeting room users.  We also conduct hundreds of briefings with product / service vendors and resellers each year.

Over time, we have noted a palpable shift in the video conferencing deployment patterns in the enterprise.  Our recent discussions, however, have led us to conclude that the traditional way of categorizing the meeting room video conferencing market, which our team essentially defined over the years, no longer reflects reality.

After many hours of internal discussion and debate, we have defined the following three categories of meeting room video conferencing.

Three Categories of Meeting Room Video Conferencing

A) Hardware Solutions for Meeting Room Conferencing

This category includes solutions optimized for use in a meeting room that include conferencing hardware and conferencing software from a single vendor.  In some cases, these solutions may also permit the use of 3rd party software applications (e.g. Android applications).

Sales in this category are typically measured in units shipped.

IMPORTANT NOTE – this category specifically does NOT include videophones as they are intended for personal (not meeting room) use.

Examples of solutions in this category include (but are not limited to):

  • Avaya Scopia and CU360
  • Aver SVC500
  • Cisco Room Kit
  • Dolby Voice Room for BlueJeans
  • Dolby Voice Room for Highfive
  • Grandstream GVC
  • Huawei TE10
  • Lifesize Room and Icon
  • Polycom Group Series
  • Solaborate Hello
  • StarLeaf GT Mini
  • Yealink VC200

B) Software Solutions for Meeting Room Conferencing

Category B includes software-based solutions optimized for use in a meeting room (vs. applications intended for personal / desktop use).  These solutions run on third-party compute platforms and use third-party peripherals (a.k.a. group add-on solutions) for audio and video.

Sales in this category are typically measured in licenses or subscriptions sold.

Examples of solutions in this category include (but are not limited to):

  • BlueJeans Rooms
  • Fuze Rooms
  • Google Hangouts Meet
  • GoToRoom
  • Microsoft Skype Room System (SRS)
  • Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR)
  • Zoom Rooms

C) DIY Meeting Room Conferencing

Category C involves the use of personal collaboration applications (e.g. Microsoft Skype for Business or Teams clients, BlueJeans Meetings, Zoom Meetings, Webex, etc.) instead of meeting room collaboration applications within a meeting room.

Such rooms typically include permanently installed peripherals (typically a USB group add-on solution) for audio/video.

Deployments in this category are measured in the number of rooms.  However, unlike the first two categories above, deployments in this category cannot be tracked by collecting vendor sales data.  However, RR will monitor trends in this category via surveys and interviews of end-user customers.

There are two sub-categories:

  • Category C1 = Video-Enabled Rooms

Meeting rooms that include a permanently installed device (e.g. a meeting room PC) that runs one or more personal collaboration applications.  Video-enabled meeting rooms support video conferencing independently, without requiring a user’s notebook PC or other personal device.

  • Category C2 = Video-Capable Meeting Rooms

Meeting rooms that require a user’s personal device (e.g. a notebook PC) to run the personal collaboration application used for the meeting.  Video-capable rooms cannot support video conferencing independently.

Expect Some Turbulence in the Short / Medium Term

For large conference rooms, we expect the video conferencing solution set to remain hardware-focused for the foreseeable future.  No cataclysmic shift is envisioned, and we expect the feature-function and price/performance metrics to continue their evolutionary improvements.

For small-to-medium conference rooms (a.k.a. huddle rooms), however, end users, channel partners, and vendors alike can expect some turbulence.  Major factors driving changes in equipment selection and deployment approaches include:

  • The solutions within Category B (software solutions optimized to support meeting room video conferencing) will continue to improve in functionality and ease-of-use. These tools will be heavily promoted by the leading VCaaS providers (e.g. BlueJeans, Zoom, etc.).  User familiarity with these applications will grow, stimulating additional use and expanded deployments.  In addition, we expect that some personal video conferencing service providers will introduce versions of their software optimized for meeting room use.
  • The host PC options for the Category B (meeting room software) solutions will expand over time, further reducing the reasons to not consider this option. For example, Microsoft’s Skype Room System (SRS V2) previously supported only two hardware platforms – a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet or a Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500.  Today, however, Microsoft Teams Rooms can run on compute from Crestron, HP, Lenovo, and soon Yealink.
  • Group add-on peripherals supporting audio and video (e.g. Logitech MeetUp and Rally, Polycom Studio, Yamaha CS-700, etc.) will add additional features and functionality, further challenging the position held by the hardware vendors today. Examples of pending (and in some cases already available) group add-on features include room framing, speaker tracking, noise blocking, motion sensors, wireless presentation, white board capture, participant counting, and participant identification.
  • New entrants to the workforce will bring a bias toward using a personal device to host video meetings. This approach, which we refer to as the BYOC or bring your own codec option, allows the user to choose his own conferencing platform, and can be deployed cost effectively at scale.  In many cases, however, the user interface may be less than optimal for meeting room use.
  • Various types of channel partners (distributors, resellers, integrators, e-tailers, service providers, etc.) will innovate and add-value in new ways including the creation of new pre-packaged solutions (kits), automated provisioning systems, proactive monitoring services, and more.  Over time, more members of the conferencing value chain will accept – and even embrace – the fact that software-based solutions will become the dominant play for video conferencing in small to medium rooms.

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