Two weeks ago, I spoke at a panel at IT Expo. The subject of the panel was: Business Continuity via a Travel Reduction Plan. Trade shows like IT Expo are great to get a feel for what a lot of decision makers are thinking, or key marketing trends.
On the panel web conferencing was a hot topic. Here is a summary of topics covered on the panel and conversations I had at the show.
For right or wrong, web conferencing is no longer about travel cost savings. Most IT departments assume that because they have rolled out web conferencing, they have provided their organization the tool to reduce travel cost. But I have not met anyone who could tell me precisely how much their web conferencing deployment is saving them on travel cost, nor how much more they could save if they were able to drive more usage out of their web conferencing solution. This is inline with what we are seeing with Adobe Connect. Our customers are no longer justifying their deployment or extension of Adobe Connect in terms of cost saving but rather in terms of productivity improvement or top-line revenue increase. Many training organization see their biggest growth from online classes: the experience they provide online becomes mission critical.
Next key topic was Unified Communications. At IT expo, many people recognize that UC was a marketing ploy from large vendor to try to bundle together multiple technologies with different maturities. For many it seemed a technology in search of a problem as opposed to a clear solution to a business need. Most people had chosen to deploy best of breed architecture and were desperate that all large vendors could not agree on a common standard for UC either from a signalization level, presence indication or video codecs. Instead of focusing on adding features and technology to UC, vendors should focus on ease of use: a lot of organization employ directly or indirectly full time staff to help people launch their video conference ! Simplification of the UI has always be a major focus for Adobe Connect and all the more so in our upcoming Connect 8 release.
Final hot topic was around Social Media and generational divide in the enterprise. Most people agreed that Social Media had still not discovered a killer app in the enterprise that would spur a large growth. It was also recognized that the growth of Social Media, or collaboration in general including web conferencing, is hindered by cultural factor. In many organization, people use to gain power by retaining information. Social Media change this paradigm: people gain power by sharing too much information !