Extending Corporate Video Conferencing to Mobile Devices

Brian Riggs - Research Director, Enterprise Software and Communications

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobility to be the next big product trend for enterprise video conferencing technology
  • There are a number of ways to extend corporate video conferencing solutions to mobile devices

The increasing adoption of video conferencing systems in the enterprise combined with the increasing adoption of video-capable mobile devices is set to both challenge and annoy IT departments. One of the problems is that the software and systems that deliver business-class video conferencing (from Cisco, IBM LifeSize, Magor, Microsoft, Polycom, Vidyo etc.) are completely different from the software that runs on the mobile devices wheedling their way into the enterprise as part of the BYOD phenomenon (from Apple, Google, Fuze, Skype, Tango, etc.). It’s unlikely that the two will learn to coexist peacefully anytime soon. Enterprise IT departments will continue to deploy on-premise or cloud-based video conferencing solutions that meet security and compliance requirements. And end users will separately use separate consumer-friendly video conferencing technology on their mobile devices with or without IT’s formal blessing.

One way that IT can mitigate these difficulties is to ensure that the video conferencing solutions they deploy can support a wide range of mobile devices. This won’t help bridge the gap between, say a Radvision-based video conferencing system deployed on-premise and a mobile workforce organically adopting Facetime. But it will help extend video conferencing technology to end users’ mobile devices so that they have a secure alternative to consumer-based mobile video conferencing software.

One of the ways IT can do this is pick a video conferencing solution that supports a wide range of mobile devices. This is something that is still in its infancy. Vidyo, for example, supports Apple smartphones and tablets, but support for Android and other platforms is something that is just now being introduced. Polycom supports multiple vendors’ tablets, but smartphone support is still in the works. Another way is to deploy a third-party video conferencing solution specifically developed to support mobile devices. I’m thinking mainly of Mirial ClearSea (or LifeSize ClearSea – I’ve seen it branded both ways since Logitech, LifeSize’s parent company, acquired Mirial this past summer). ClearSea supports a laundry list of mobile devices and, despite being LifeSize’s sister company, integrates with multiple vendors’ SIP- and H.323-based video conferencing systems.

Finally, guest access features are becoming more common with corporate video conferencing systems. This is a software feature that lets end users send out email invitations to conference participants without access to corporate video conferencing end points. In some cases, this lets only desktops and laptops participate video conference, not smartphones and tablets. But in other cases mobile devices are also supported. So while there is no single way of bringing together business and consumer video conferencing technology, there are an increasing number of ways for IT to bridge the gap.

What do you think?

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