Software vs. Hardware:The Winning Technology is…?
When corporate executives start talking about using video, the issue of “networking” always lurks as the big elephant in the room.
After all, video is just about the chunkiest form of communications that can flow over the corporate network. Plenty of IT executives have successfully vetoed broader implementation of video because of concerns over its potential for clogging the corporate network and crowding out forms of communication more crucial to day-to-day business activities, such as e-mail.
But the issue of networking should not be treated as a deal-breaker that tables the use of video altogether. After all, once upon a time – literally decades ago, information technology execs worried in the same way about the explosion of e-mail. But as e-mail proved its worth as a productive communications forum and employee time saver, the concerns over its network impact just faded into the woodwork.
The same evolution will take place with video as it establishes its value in delivering more engaging, productivity-enhancing communications experiences. As more executives come to rely on video to communicate more effectively, the investments needed to grow networks to handle the traffic will just become another commonly accepted cost of doing business.
Against this backdrop, it’s important to recognize how organizations are likely to address their need for greater networking capacity in the facing of growing demand for business video communications. The outlook for boosting networks to handle video has changed dramatically in recent years.
Interactive Media Strategies regularly surveys information technology executives to better understand their perceptions of video-enabling technologies in the enterprise. One of the questions addressed in this survey of more than 250 information technology executives is the issue of how these executives prefer to expand their corporate network capacity to address the growing demand for business video communications.
When asked this question in the Interactive Media Strategies 2008 survey, more than two-thirds of respondents said they preferred to boost network capacity by adding more gear to their corporate communications networks. At that time, only 16% cited the licensing of network services from “content distribution networks” as their preferred path for video network expansion. And back in 2008, only 15% cited the implementation of peer-to-peer networking capabilities as their preferred means of network expansion.
This outlook on network preferences has changed dramatically since then. In the first quarter 2011 survey, content distribution networks surged to the top spot of preferences for network expansion, with 39% of executives citing a preference for using the services model to boost network capacity. At the same time, peer-to-peer preference increased to 25% of all IT respondents in 2011.
As interest in these alternative means for network expansion increased, the preference for adding more gear to internal corporate networks tumbled. In this year’s survey, only 36% of IT executives said they preferred to address growing video demand by investing in equipment that would expand their internal corporate networks.
The results signal a significant maturation for the implementation of video in the enterprise sector. By implementing services, organizations are recognizing the need to address video issues more rapidly than might be possible through a staged expansion of internal network gear. Also, the growing need for services can be taken as an illustration of growing demand for video communications that expands beyond the corporate firewalls and begins to influence an organization’s outbound communications strategy, as well.
And as network services emerge as a more plausible alternative, it become even easier for video champions within an organization to match the value of video communications with the specific costs they incur rather than having to justify the larger capital outlays that can be involved in making a corporate network “bullet-proof” from the perceived threat of video traffic.
Just know that IT executives should not be dismissed for predicting doomsday scenarios related to the implementation of video on the corporate network. But it might be helpful to remind them that IT executives of all stripes are addressing the issue of network expansion in more creative ways than ever before.