A Primer on the Trend Towards Video-enabled Business Processes

“One-third of online consumers in the US regularly watch user-generated videos on sites like YouTube“ – Forrester, Sept, 2010 (link)

“178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in August for an average of 14.3 hours per viewer“ – comScore, Sept, 2010 (Link )

“70% of global online consumers watch online video. More than half of global online consumers watch online video in the workplace.” – Nielsen, Aug 2010 Link

When you think of it, kids growing up today are used to creating, uploading, and watching videos online. It is part of their daily activity.  It is how they interact with their friends.  It is how they get the information they need. If my kids are having a particular problem understanding a subject at school, they just enter a search into YouTube and they get the information they need. If they want to learn how to play a favorite song on the piano, they can find that on YouTube as well. If you want to find out how to change the faucet on one of your sinks in your house, you can find that too.

Sametime video_chat_composite Online video is becoming a natural part of our learning and collaborative processes as consumers.  Increasingly, consumers are relying on videos as a way to learn about companies and it’s products and services prior to making a purchase decision.  And consumers are beginning to expect to find videos online to help them with post-purchase support questions

So I believe its only a matter of time before employees expect videos to be a part of every business website, every business process. When the teenager of today enters the business workforce, they will expect videos to be embedded in all business applications as part of the learning and collaborative process.

I stared at IBM long before the Internet was around.  We learned and collaborated in a different way.  I could simply walk down the hall or across the building to reach a colleague live and in person, and collaborate on an intimate level. But in today’s virtual workplace, such interactions are harder, if not impossible, to come by, if they happen at all. And yet the need for such face-to- face exchanges hasn’t gone away; if anything, it’s greater than ever.

Technology is available today that allows us to collaborate face to face even though we are thousands of miles away from each other. Many companies have already implemented videoconferencing for executive briefing centers and have learned that this form of collaboration is a powerful way to communicate and can strengthen existing relationships. The ability to view colleagues, both inside and outside the enterprise, and see their reactions to important discussions is invaluable, particularly for situations involving selling, negotiation and starting up a new team. 

Video is increasingly important as tool in business processes, particularly in situations where visual information is critical to a discussion.  Processes like marketing, support, and training could all benefit from the use of videos.  In fact, I expect that over the next 10-20 years, the use of videos will impact most business processes, causing need for new roles, responsibilities, and education. IT leaders will need to understand the impact on the infrastructure and will need to have an overall video strategy that is aligned to business objectives.

Sametime Meetings_Rich_18Nov09 I expect 2011 to bring increased focus on integrating video into the matrix of different communication types within an organization in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.  In 2011, innovative business and IT leaders will have pilots and projects underway to understand how to make the best use of videos within the enterprise.

Of course I don’t expect this trend to be one that reaches mass adoption overnight in 2011, but I do expect to hear of some leading edge companies that are starting to embrace video and embed video collaboration into it’s processes and infrastructure.  These leading edge companies will provide the case studies that help convince other companies to do the same.

The rest of this post provides you with additional background on this trend, some additional marketplace quotes, and a list of websites and resources.

Drivers

  • High cost of travel
  • Remote employees
  • Customers want video, and often engage more readily with video content than written content

Inhibitors/Challenges

  • Video production is often seen as expensive (but it does not have to be)
  • Bandwidth

Implications

  • Videos will impact most business processes, causing need for new roles, responsibilities, and education.
  • What are the video applications that are driving strategic change?
  • IT leaders need to understand impact on the infrastructure
  • What impact will pervasive video and connectivity have on customers?
  • Need to have an overall video strategy that is aligned to business objectives

Quotes from the Marketplace:

“Mobile Video: is already used by 11% of global online consumers: penetration is highest in Asia-Pacific and among consumers in their late 20s“ – Nielsen, Aug 2010 Link

“User-generated content gives Web site visitors a voice and a presence, while giving organizations more opportunities to interact and communicate with their visitors. Smart companies align with users by allowing them to upload home-grown videos related to communications campaigns or products promotion.” – Frost (link)

“Top video-enabled organizations are able to shift the focus from supporting video to aligning video with accelerated business processes such as improved product development, accelerated talent acquisition, and revenue-enhanced sales opportunities.” – Hyoun Park, Aberdeen Link

“Technology that lets employees collaborate face-to-face without actually being face-to face can facilitate virtual collaboration easily and very cost-effectively. PC-based video conferencing software is that technology..” – Frost & Sullivan Link

 For More Information

Here are some sites where you will find links to other learning resources like white papers, demos, customer briefs, and videos.

Voice / Video Convergence Delivers Value

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IBM: Transforming your voice, video and collaboration infrastructure

Additional www.ibm.com Links

Here are some additional sites where you will find links to other learning resources like white papers, demos, customer briefs, and videos

Mobile Computing Poised To Impact B2B In 2011

Unless you have been living on another planet, you realize that mobile computing and the ecosystem that surrounds it is a major growth industry.  5 years ago, mobile meant being able to make phone calls with your cell phone and perhaps accessing the internet with your laptop. Today, mobile means something totally different, thanks to the introduction of the smartphone, the Iphone, Google’s Android, and just this past year, the iPad. 

HorizonWatching Mobile Computing - 2011 Today, more people are working through remote or mobile access than ever before. Mobile devices are increasingly being used for web searches and applications traditionally done from a desktop. Over the last year there has been a focus on the development of mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private. These efforts will focus on delivering new innovative services to employees, business partners, consumers, and citizens on any device, anywhere.

To stay competitive organizations are extending their resources, data, and connectivity to people wherever they are…whether that is in face-to-face customer engagements or in an operational setting, such as a retail store, supply chain logistics, or field service. In addition, users are demanding access where ever they happen to be….whether they’re in their car, on a plane, in a hotel, or on a weekend camping trip.

Mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications are becoming viable channels in which to conduct business.  As smartphone adoption continue to grow through the roof, we are now seeing with the popularity of the iPad the emergence of the tablet form factor. I believe we are moving towards a place where the typical business user might have three devices….a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet. IT developers will need to accommodate all three display form factors into their application environment.

And as a result, the mobile application infrastructure will need become more sophisticated. Enabling technologies will be new devices, faster networks, new location-aware technology, and improved mobile applications.

One area of focus today is Mobile Marketing. Consumers are wanting to use their mobile devices to help them do searches, get information on products and services, and help them make purchase decisions.  As consumers get used to using their mobile devices for consumer product purchases, they will increasingly want to use their devices in a business context. Marketing and sales managers need to understand the potential uses of mobile devices and how to apply the mobile marketing techniques to increase sales.

Some Analyst Perspectives

“Brands seeking a persistent presence with their customers must have a strategy to engage with their customers via mobile phones.” – Forrester, Sept. 2010 (link)

“59 percent of mobile consumers plan to use their mobile phone for holiday shopping and planning holiday celebrations, not including making phone calls” – Mobile Marketing Association, Nov. 2010 (Link)

“Consumers are relying on their mobile phones for more than talking and texting these days. They are using them for everything from reading and writing emails to watching the news, trading stocks, and booking hotel rooms.” – Forrester, Sept. 2010 (link)

“Mobile Proximity Marketing In U.S. to Reach $750M By 2011 And Nearly $6B By 2015” – Borrell Associates, Oct 2010 (link)

Adoption Drivers:

  • Growth of smartphones/tablets
  • The application development community is focused on developing mobile web application services and improvements in apps, browsers, and search will push new adoption.
  • Growth of location based apps
  • Faster networks (4G )
  • Mobile worker efficiency and productivity
  • Gen Y lives mobile / wireless life and will expect that in B2B transactions
  • Mobile devices are increasingly being used for web searches and applications traditionally done from a desktop.

Challenges:

  • Integrating mobile into business processes
  • Mobile analytics
  • Coverage in rural and undeveloped regions
  • Cost, Security issues.
  • Managing productivity of a remote workforce.
  • Reliability of mobile technologies

Implications for B2B:

  • Innovative mobile solutions enable new business models
  • Business processes and applications have to be re-engineered for mobile.
  • Expect increased interest in technologies that can boost the productivity of a remote workforce.
  • Growth countries use mobile as a leapfrogging approach to connect the base of the socio-economic pyramid to the formal economy.
  • Emerging solutions will include voice search, location-aware, and mobile video.
  • There will be increased focus on the development of enterprise-based mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private.
  • Knowledge economy produces a global and virtual workforce.
  • Mobile becomes a critical part of Unified Communication solutions

Some key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include Voice Search, Location Based Services, Video, Gaming, Event-Based Marketing, and Augmented Reality. On the horizon are applications like Mobile Video Collaboration solutions and 3D Mobile Internet allowing customers to browse 3D pictures/videos of products.  All this has implications for business processes throughout the organization. Some older companies will need to change culture and transform workflows as a result.  CIOs and IT leaders need to understand how mobile fits into their organization’s enterprise wide unified communications and social collaboration strategy.

For More Information – Internet

IBM Relaunches Smarter City Initiative With An Innovative Portal

IBM has relaunched it's Smarter City initiative and the website portal is something you should visit to experience.  It is truly an immersive, interactive experience designed to show how cities all over the world are using advanced technology to help address some of the biggest problems facing our planet.  

 Smarter City Portal
It is a fact…our cities are getting larger and larger.  With that growth comes significant challenges for city leaders.  Increasingly, city operations are being digitized, creating brand new data points.  With the greater digitization of its core systems and the use of advanced analytic capabilities, cities can enhance decision-making and improve urban planning.

The Smarter City portal allows you to explore and experience how Smarter Technology can have an impact on making a city more sustainable, more intelligent, and simply better places to live and work.  At the portal, you have options to learn more about how technology can impact all areas of a Smarter City, including Transportation (all forms of transportation), Public Safety, Communications, Energy & Utilities, Healthcare, Social Services, Education,  Retail, Economic Development and other critical operations that make up a large urban city today. 

I suggest you give it a visit and explore this innovative portal at www.thesmartercity.com

Gartner: 10 Emerging Mobile Technologies to Watch

Gartner Mobile Technologies to Watch Today, more people are working through remote or mobile access than ever before. To stay competitive in an interconnected world, enterprises need to extend their resources, data, and connectivity to individuals wherever they are: in face-to-face customer engagements; in operational settings, such as retail, logistics, or field service; and on the road, whether they’re in their car, on a plane, or in a hotel.  Mobile technologies will all play such an important part in the development of mobile applications, solutions, and services and we all need to monitor how they are adopted over the next few years.

In advance of Gartner’s Wireless, Networking & Communications Summit, Gartner has released a list of 10 mobile technologies that it says will impact the growth of mobile applications and solutions for both consumers and enterprises.  The list covers a wide variety of technologies from widgets, to security, to location based technology.  Here is my summary of Gartner’s list

  1. Bluetooth (3 and 4):  Gartner says to expect enhanced Bluetooth versions that will speed data transmission and enable communication with a wider range handsets and PC peripherals.
  2. The Mobile Web:  Gartner says that as mobile devices with larger screens hit the market, we’ll want to use those devices to access websites.
  3. Mobile Widgets:  Gartner says that widgets will play a big part in the emerging mobile application market.
  4. Platform-Independent Mobile AD Tools:  Developers need tools that help them develop platform-independent mobile applications.
  5. App Stores:  Gartner expects that App stores will be the primary way to distribute mobile application solutions and services.
  6. Enhanced Location Awareness:   Location awareness technologies, including GPS, Wi-Fi and cell ID systems, will be used to exploit location-based services and applications. .
  7. Cellular Broadband:  The growth in mobile applications and services will require enhancements to the broadband networks.
  8. Touchscreens:  Touch and touch-related technologies will play an important part in the emerging mobile application solution marketplace.
  9. M2M:  Gartner says to watch machine to machine technologies in many applications areas, including meter reading, security/surveillance, automotive systems, and retail.
  10. Device-Independent Security:  Gartner says to expect a focus on emerging security technologies as CIOs look to deliver applications across a wider range of devices, while still controlling security risks.

I think we can all agree that mobile and wireless is a very hot area in 2010 and that it will continue to heat up over the next few years.   So its pretty important to keep an eye on the emerging technologies that will become important in the mobile application infrastructure.   It certainly is one of the top trends on my radar screen. 

For more information, check out these resources from Gartner

Morgan Stanley: 10 Trends to Watch

Morgan Stanley The Economy + Internet Trends  is a comprehensive 68 page slide deck from Morgan Stanley.  It was released in October 2009.  It provides a list of 10 trends and then supports that lists with lots of evidence. 

The first two trends relate to the economy and then the last eight related to mobile internet technology. 

  1. Financial Markets Have Rebounded, Technology Sector = Relatively Impressive.
  2. Leading Economic Indicators Seem to Have Turned Corner, Coincident / Lagging Indicators Still Weak.
  3. Mobile Internet Usage Is and Will Be Bigger than Most Think
  4. Apple Mobile Share Should Surprise on Upside Near Term
  5. Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) are Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce
  6. Mobile in Japan + Desktop Internet Provide Roadmaps for Mobile Growth + Monetization
  7. 3G Adoption / Trends Vary by Geography
  8. Carriers in USA / W. Europe Face Surging Network Demand But Uncertain Economics.
  9. Regulators Can Help Advance / Slow Mobile Internet Evolution
  10. Mobile-Related Share Shifts Will Create / Destroy Material Shareholder Wealth

There’s an interesting slide on page 62 of the deck.  The slide shows the winners (wealth creation) from previous technology cycles (eg. Mainframe computing, Minis = Digital Equip/HP, Personal Computing = Microsoft, Intel,  Desktop Internet = Google, AOL).  Morgan Stanley says the next technology cycle will be the Mobile Internet and poses the question as to what companies will create the most wealth from the Mobile Internet. 

For more information, get the pdf file Economy + Internet Trends

Accenture: Future of the Communications Industry

I saw that Accenture recently released a report titled “Communications Industry Trajectory:  On Track for High Performance?”.  The report discusses the blurred boundaries of the telecommunications industry as technology, business and consumer trends redefine the digital services marketplace.  

There is no doubt that convergence is now an accurate description of the current business model of the communications services industry.   Carriers, software companies, high-tech firms, media enterprises, entertainment conglomerates all may find themselves collaborating and partnering one day and competing against each other the next.

Accenture reports that industry executives they talked to for this research report indicate that the future of the communications industry has many opportunities and possibilities.  Future competition will be fierce and most companies will look quite different 10 years from now.   Accenture expects a number of significant mergers, acquisitions and alliances are on the horizon that will change the terms of the playing field in dramatic ways.

Some of the themes that emerged from the research Accenture conducted for the report.

  • Carriers are confident, but their vision may be insufficiently transformative
  • Seamless delivery of content across multiple platforms will be crucial
  • Other players are looking to leverage the distinctive strengths of service providers
  • Carriers must learn to use their brand in the right way
  • Support for open innovation and collaboration is critical to achieving high performance

According to the report there are potential weaknesses in the carriers' current approach: 

  • lack of a powerful vision for managing the customer experience,
  • some softness in overall brand value, and
  • an inadequate support structure for planning and managing the collaborative and partnering relationships necessary to spur innovation and improve time to market.

For more information, you can read the report or listen to an 8 minute Podcast

Primer on Unified Communications

What do we expect in 2009 for UC? A merged market between UC and collaboration, even more trial activity, business executives getting more involved with UC selections and deployments, IT managers continuing to demand interoperability based on standards, and UC managed service adoption. All these elements support growth to a $2.8 billion market by the end of 2009 — even amid economic uncertainty.Forrester , Jan 2009

Many organizations are starting to see the potential value of Unified Communications both to their staff and to their business processes.  Investing in UC can lead to reduced operational expenses.  I’m expecting that 2009 will bring increased focus on integrating the matrix of different communication types within an organization in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.

Enterprises will increasingly realize that they have multiple products and vendors performing the same communications functions, and that this redundancy creates additional expense (both for licenses, operations), makes it more difficult for users to learn, and increases the complexity of integration.  Vendors should realize the potential for convergence of these markets and work to accelerate the trend.

According to Gartner, during the next five years, the number of different communications vendors companies may be reduced by at least 50%.  Gartner says this change is driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communication applications to common off-the-shelf servers and operating systems.  As this occurs, formerly distinct markets, each with distinct vendors, converge, resulting in massive consolidation in the communications industry.

Internally, most large enterprises have separate organizations managing the discrete communications tasks are generally separate today.  For example, the telephony department is separate from the storage networking team, which is separate from the data network team, which operates independently of the e-mail team, and the list goes on.  While the technologies, products and even vendors converge, users must work hard to converge their management teams and, more importantly, their business processes.

Drivers

  • Value of traditional desk phone and desktop PC is diminishing
  • Economic uncertainty as companies look to cut cost, e.g., in travel
  • Cost reductions programs
  • Integrate communication functions directly with business applications.
  • Trend towards convergence of digital content, IP as a common communication protocol, and machine-to-machine communications.

Inhibitors

  • Some technologies (e.g. presence) are not fully understood.  Products are still at an early stage and lack functionality.
  • Best practices are not well-defined: e.g., interaction with other technologies such as SaaS and cloud computing, conflicting standards.
  • Lack of coordination with legacy communication infrastructures
  • Many enterprises have struggled to internally support voice over IP (VoIP). The additional technical challenges of UC will only compound the support problem.
  • Soft ROI difficult in challenging economy

Observations:

Enterprises will look to integrate the matrix of different installed communication types in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.   Integrating communications and collaboration in a rich, multimedia experience — one that can include unified telephony, voice, video, instant messaging, Web conferencing, e-mail, voice mail, and business processes and applications — enables a whole new way for people, teams and communities to find experts and make faster, better decisions.

Recommendations:

  • Continue researching this important trend and understand its impact on each client’s business processes.
  • Build careful, detailed plans for when each category of communications function is replaced or converged, coupling this step with the prior completion of appropriate administration team convergence.

For More Information:

A Primer on Telepresence

With the economy the shape it is in right now, companies will be looking for an edge in cutting costs.  Watch for more companies to implement telepresence and video collaboration solutions in the effort to reduce corporate travel, improve global operations, and drive remote workforce productivity.

Video technologies and organizational capabilities have improved in the corporate environment.  As a result, companies are finally able to realize strong business benefits to support efforts in business uses as varied as reducing the corporate environmental footprint, promoting globalized workforce collaboration, accelerating complex product development initiatives, and aiding remote talent acquisition.

Telepresence Overview:  Telepresence – a kind of video conference providing the sensation that all participants are actually in the same room – is set for explosive growth.  TelePresence delivers real-time, face-to-face interactions between people and places in their work and personal lives using advanced visual, audio, and collaboration technologies.  These technologies transmit life-size, high-definition images and spatial discrete audio.  Telepresence delivers video that makes it easier than ever to discern facial expressions for those crucial business discussions and negotiations across the "virtual table." The telepresence illusion is so real that many execs forget the person they’re talking to is not really in the same room.  See a video of how this looks.

Opportunity: According to recent research by ABI, the whole market, which includes telepresence equipment, network services and managed services, is forecast to grow from a 2007 level of not quite $126 million to nearly $2.5 billion in 2013.  Telepresence solutions can cost in the neighborhood of $300,000, but many telepresence operations are handled as managed services.  And less expensive “executive” systems designed for one or two people mean that telepresence technology is now migrating down to middle managers, expanding the market.

Driving Forces:

  • The high cost of travel (in money, wasted time, and carbon emissions).
  • Increased need for a remote workforce to participate in time-sensitive collaboration sessions.
  • Demands of worldwide outsourcing
  • Improved and lower cost technologies for video, audio and collaboration

Inhibitors: Videoconferencing has traditionally been a difficult technology to implement in the enterprise, with problems: latency, jitter, poor video equipment, insufficient concern over the videoconferencing environment, lack of business purpose, organizational commitment, and comfort with using this technology.

Segmentation: According to a report by IDC (Worldwide Telepresence 2008–2012 Forecast and Analysis), there are three primary markets for telepresence solutions:

  • CEO and senior executive travel reduction (whether corporate jet or commercial airline travel),
  • Teamwork, and
  • Room rentals for companies unable to afford their own rooms.

Vendor Landscape: According to ABI Research, (see their vendor matrix – registration required) the top five telepresence vendors to watch are:

  1. Cisco Systems – Cisco is positioned very well to participate in the future telepresence market and they are pushing their solutions at this website.
  2. Tandberg – http://www.tandberg.com/totaltelepresence/
  3. Teliris – http://www.teliris.com/
  4. Polycom Incorporated:  http://www.polycom.com/usa/en/products/telepresence_video/telepresence_solutions/index.html
  5. Digital Video Enterprises:  http://www.dvetelepresence.com/

Future Vision: It is easy to imagine a future where we use video conferencing as easy as we use instant messaging today.  The adoption will move from simple employee to employee webcam video calls to social networking and collaborative solutions that connect not only employees to one another, but CEOs to CEOs.  Future business applications will be video conference enabled, allowing businesses to collaborate seamlessly with their vendors, partners, and customers.

Future Challenges: Looking forward to the future, the biggest obstacle facing the mass adoption of telepresence is interoperability.  Although telepresence vendors have begun to broach the issue of interoperability, the market is far from allowing complete federation across all systems to allow for room-to-room calling.  Vendors are pushing forward very slowly interoperability, saying that standards, modularity, and interoperability are at odds with the art and science behind creating telepresence experiences and the potential for continued innovation in this space.  So at least for awhile, interoperability will take a back seat to innovation.

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