As the global appetite for videoconferencing solutions grows, so do the possibilities they offer. spoke to Linor Shachar, VP sales and marketing for videoconferencing experts Emblaze VCON, about the latest market trends and developments.

It’s strange to hear an executive from a company that sells videoconferencing solutions admitting business people will always need to travel to meetings and conferences.

Yet while Linor Shachar, VP sales and marketing for videoconferencing experts Emblaze VCON, believes there is a place for face-to-face meetings she has no doubts about the future of video calling.

And she argues that future is shifting rapidly from expensive full-room telepresence systems to desktop videoconferencing applications.

"Up until two years ago the market was driven by room systems," she said. "This was centred around specialist hardware companies that installed usually costly equipment in corporate conference rooms.

"Everyone was looking to have such a system. But it was quite expensive and users had to get up from their desks and go to a conference room to make a video call."

Shachar said that in the last couple of years the trend has shifted towards desktop solutions.

Demand for these is growing quickly in Europe and the US, where the financial crisis is favoring videoconferencing solutions that enable businesses to reduce travel budgets.

Shachar said interest was also growing rapidly in APAC nations, especially China and India, where there was a rush to adopt desktop videoconferencing.

This preference for desktop options was partly driven by a desire to take advantage of a lower cost model of videoconferencing.

But she said there was also the convenience factor of being able to make video calls easily and quickly from the PC or laptop on your desk.

This was becoming more acceptable, especially as people are now increasingly familiar with VoIP and video calling from their experience of using them at home.

Shachar said Emblaze has now developed a reputation for its desktop client – especially software delivering Full HD (1080p).

A major success for the Israeli company was providing BMW’s group headquarters with over 3,000 desktop clients.

She said rather than relying on email to communicate both internally and externally, BMW staff are able to work and interact via video calls.

"Video is becoming more intuitive and simple to use. For, instance, it’s connected to Outlook so you simply have to click on a contact to make a video call, " she said.

"Its use is growing at BMW, with more and more departments asking to join and more people using video.

"In a huge organisation such as BMW, it’s very useful between sites but also within one site.

"So you can ‘ping’ a colleague in the warehouse and get them to hold up a part for you to look at without having to leave your desk."

Shachar said a key aspect of the success of the video conference system was the HD call quality.

"If the quality was poor people would not use it," she said.

So while Emblaze accepts that there will always be the need for people to travel to meetings, face-to-face meetings are increasingly being replaced by video calls.

"A quarter of meetings are now done over video – that has changed very recently," she said.

As people become more accustomed to the idea of meeting remotely that figure is certain to keep on rising.

Does your business use videoconferencing? Are there some situations where it just isn’t effective?

Please send us your comments.

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