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conferencing services

10 Trends Shaping the Future of Conferencing Services

The conferencing services market is in a state of rapid transition. The market’s different segments — hosted audio, web and video conferencing, managed video-conferencing services — will experience different growth rates over the next seven year, but the total market growth will be boosted by globalization and the growth of virtual teams.

At the same time, it will be tempered by the commoditization of mature technologies and services. But in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, factors including cost reduction and productivity enhancements have been igniting demand.

According to a September 2014 report, Frost & Sullivan estimates the Latin American conferencing services market to grow by 23% from 2014 to 2021 (in terms of healthy revenue compound annual growth rate, CAGR). This will push it to revenues of $138.6 million over the next seven years, something that will be reached due to high growth rates in visual communications and collaboration.

More recent research in 2015 analyzed more than 20 leading conferencing-service providers and revealed the trends having the greatest impact on the industry. These are the top 10 that will move the market — now and into the next decade.

1. Visual Conferencing Usage Will Continue to Grow

What was once a checkbox on an RFP now holds serious weight in the minds of decision maker. High-quality visual conferencing and the networks to support it on an array of devices are driving the growth of video. As Millennials continue to make up a larger percentage of the workplace and price points drop along with newer technology, demand will continue to rise. Video is becoming more pervasive, and the business world is gradually overcoming its fear of being on camera.

2. Firms Are Deploying Companywide Conferencing

Active-host and full-deployment models are on the rise. And they are opening up conferencing services to more users than in the past. Back then, these services were reserved for selected groups due to cost, but now it’s a game most can afford to play

3. There Is a Shift from PSTN Audio to VoIP

Users are increasingly using VoIP to carry out conferencing calls more than traditional PSTN networks. And the price points of growing VoIP traffic are expected to have a huge downward influence on average selling prices in the years to come.

4. Web Conferencing Is Becoming a Collaborative Team Space

While the web conferencing market is shifting from growth to maturity, web conferencing is becoming more integrated with other communications tools. Also, the market is witnessing the emergence of additional applications for web conferencing in collaborative workspaces. An example of this is Cisco Spark, which enables users to share content, host meetings, and leave notes for other team members.

5. Companies Are Using Multiple Conferencing Solutions

Some companies have begun to maintain overlapping conferencing services, with perhaps two or three different web conferencing providers and a couple audio conferencing options. Then there is instant messaging, file sharing, webcasting, and team workspaces. This is, sometimes, leading to confusion.

6. Content Management Is Becoming Critical

The next wave of productivity tools, given all the collaboration solutions enterprises use today, will solve the challenges of consolidating knowledge. Particularly with Baby Boomers retiring, more and more importance will be placed on content management. Recording meetings and recycling them in a way that serves up the best and most relevant content at the right time will increase in importance. The new generation is very accustomed to gain knowledge quickly via searchable, digestible, and readily available video content.

7. Tools Are Focusing on User Experience

Collaboration tools are increasing focusing on strong user experience to drive loyalty and adoption. Knowledge workers can do more with audio/video/web conferencing now than ever before, so having simpler interfaces and a more-intuitive user experience has become more important than price for many making the purchase decision.

8. Conferencing Minutes Are Coming in Bundles

Audio and visual conferencing capabilities are now often included as part of on-premise and hosted Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) bundles. And these packages, coming from enterprise communications vendors, are growing more competitive with conferencing services from traditional CSPs. Growth will be largely driven by vendors such as Microsoft, which is expected to offer conferencing capabilities within UCC entry-level bundles.

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9. Mobility & Remote Working Are Driving Mobile-First Strategies

Remote-working options and geographically spread workforces require organizations to equip their employees with feature-rich and easy-to-use tools. Today, office workers are increasingly mobile and often work from anywhere at any time. Some large conferencing service providers have reported that as many as two-thirds of their customers use mobile conferencing apps almost all the time.

10. Hosted Video Is on the Rise

The shift from traditional video conferencing solutions to the desktop and mobile realm has been accelerating, and this is boosting the adoption of hosted video. Also driving this shift is the reconfiguration of offices from large partitioned rooms to open spaces, some of which include areas for quick, ad-hoc meetings. There is an increasing awareness from businesses that the cloud and its pricing model can level the playing field among companies of different sizes.

Alaa Saayed

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