Vidtel’s Scott Wharton: What’s wrong with the video conferencing industry?

About a week ago Scott Wharton, CEO of Vidtel, penned a blog post asking, “What’s wrong with the video conferencing industry?” Scott goes on to cite the high-cost of video conference end-points devices, considering both older models and some new product introductions.

Scott expresses frustration with the incumbent players “lack of aggressiveness” in driving down the cost of video as a tool for business. His point is well made. The cost of implementing video remains too high for many companies, including my own employer.

Scott says, “It’s unquestionable that video conferencing will be and is becoming the de facto way that people communicate.” While I’d like to agree with this. Heck, I want to agree with this. It’s not been my experience to date.

Over the past few years I have repeatedly pitched my employer on the value of adding video to the way we do business. We have multiple offices on different continents. We seldom get a large group collected for in-person meetings, even less so the past few years as the economy has been weak. Even so, they seem to have little interest in using video.

We make considerable use of conference calls. We’ve added a pair of conference bridges to our OnSIP account. Those of us fortunate enough to have SIP phones at our disposal even enjoy audio conferences in HDVoice since all of our SIP phones are G.722 capable.

We also use Citrix’s GotoMeeting and GotoAssist products. We’ve used GotoMeeting for many years. While I participated in the beta program for HDFaces, my employer has never made use of video during GotoMeeting sessions.

I’ve asked myself why on many occasions, but the answer eludes me. Using video makes perfect sense. It’s the next logical step in how we communicate. Further, it would allow us to do ad hoc product demonstrations by streaming the output of our hardware to a soft client in parallel with a desktop sharing session. That could save us money and give use more flexibility in addressing last minute opportunities.

Still, there’s little or no interest in using video of any sort. It’s forced me to assemble a test setup slowly and on the cheap, a process that I’ve just recently completed.

While I agree with the major thrust of Scott’s argument, I think that some effort needs to go into convincing SMBs that video is worth the effort. It’s not easy or cheap, and the benefits may not be obvious.

  • Thanks for the thoughts on my blog post Michael.  I think your experience is endemic of the SME space in the video conferencing space: what I call the goldilocks program.  High-end video conf. solutions are see as too expensive and out of reach for most SMEs; Lower-end solutions like Skype and Go-to-meeting often are not perceived as good enough to be worth the hassle for many businesses preferring the solid but lower sensory experience than video conferencing.  

    One of the problems Vidtel’s is focused on solving is providing a better solution to companies like yours that might want a higher end experience but don’t want to spend the money on expensive network infrastructure and probably don’t have the IT staffing to support it anyway.  Additionally, if you go higher end, you want to interoperate with the consumer-based services like Skype and Google Talk where the mast majority of people in business have experienced video (and don’t have special equipment).  

    This in-the-middle-just-right market is still emerging with a combination of new, higher quality and lower cost equipment combined with cloud services like Vidtel to both outsource the network equipment into a monthly service combined with consumer/Skype interop to talk with the rest of the world.  I’d be happy to discuss this with you and your company’s options – maybe the topic of a follow up blog 🙂

    Regards,

    Scott
    CEO
    Vidtel, Inc.
    http://www.vidtel.com

    • I’ll email you my contact details.

  • Very useful one. and the reply is too good. I liked the response.