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Video communications: growth opportunities

With the changes seen in the video communications marketplace, what are the technologies that are providing good business for integrators?

In the first part of this video comms feature we looked at the influence traditionally IT-based companies are having in this space and the increase in large-scale UC rollouts. Here we consider the technologies that are currently providing real opportunities for integrators and those technologies that are likely to remain profitable in the future.

“Technologies that integrate content delivery with IP networks to enhance an organisation’s operation and communications provide integrators with real opportunities for growth,” comments Colin Farquhar, founder and CEO of Exterity. “By 2020, the digital signage industry is predicted to be worth more than £15 billion, and increasingly it is becoming a core component of an organisation’s overall unified communications strategy. 

“The future for digital IP video and signage within the workplace looks likely to remain vibrant, as organisations start to explore higher resolutions and dynamic content based on real-time events. Another area that is evolving is the use of end-to-end encryption to ensure that copyrighted and company-sensitive content is stored and delivered in a secure fashion. The video revolution in the workplace still has plenty of room to grow.” 

Samuel Recine, director of sales – Americas, Asia Pacific at Matrox, has words of warning and encouragement: “AV integrators showing up with new versions of the old story – even those veiled as AV over IP but offering the same old limited reach and proprietary technologies – are not substantially participating in the large economies of IPTV, digital signage, and lecture capture and video management, all of which are low-bitrate applications using video standards born from the IT world, like H.264. The integrators that are demonstrating value in personalising these user experiences and/or integrating control for new products with AV processors and other third-party hardware and software are extremely busy. All of the aforementioned markets have new growth opportunities and are still expanding significantly.” 

Andy Truswell, systems integration manager at Pure AV, believes the spread of apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp and the increased usage of video calls on personal devices means that people are now more comfortable with video comms. He continues: “Also, across business and education, there is increased requirement to make more content available to more people in more locations.” And in terms of technology areas, “UC, streaming and lecture capture can be deployed to offer businesses and institutions increased flexibility both in the usage and space and in the way that people work and communicate. I see this as a requirement that will only continue to grow as pressures on available space, environmental impact and more effective communication remain and intensify. The ability to solve these problems will place integrators in a strong position for future growth and opportunity.” 

But given the current speed of change, which technologies are likely to remain profitable? “Integrators that make alliances with top software suites from all these critical workflows stand a better chance to smooth out their participation in various projects on an ongoing basis,” notes Recine. “There are also skills and best practices to pick up from working in all these areas. Integrators should begin to be familiar with certain products that can span different specialised software worlds and develop a deep expertise in these products’ libraries for integration into customer environments.” 

So which technologies are a good bet for integrators to expand into? Farquhar cautions: “Before deciding to ‘expand into’ one of these new technology areas, it is vital that the integrators begin to build in-house skills in the networking, IT and content management areas.” 

Recine adds: “Having the skills and knowledge of AV processors and other legacy equipment in conjunction with modern products based on IP is a strong blend with plenty of appeal in the marketplace.” 

While there’s a level of uncertainty surrounding the technologies that will remain in demand and those that will emerge, there is no doubt that integrators have a continuing role to play. 

David Willie, head of marketing and product management at Saville AV, concludes: “More than ever, AV integration specialists such as Saville are called on to help organisations really harness the power of software-based video and collaboration environments to deliver real business benefits and drive return on investments. Without this, software-based video clients are little more than a way of contacting one individual and the collaborative benefit of bringing multiple people and teams together is lost.”