Has the time finally come, I ask myself, for videoconferencing to go mainstream?
Videoconferencing, or VC, has been talked about for many, many years as a cost effective alternative to intercompany travel. Not only does it save money it also saves on time. Yet it’s never fully caught on. Why? Well predominantly because of cost – VC and telepresence kit has just been too expensive for many companies to consider as a viable option. But perhaps also because of the way – and to whom – it’s been marketed.
The good news is things are changing – enough for, in my opinion, the next 12 months to be a potential tipping point for the videoconferencing industry.
The up-front cost of buying in the technology is now significantly reduced and travel technology providers such as Sabre and GlobalVideoconferencing Network have both launched virtual meetings platforms that directly target TMCs.
GVN recently announced the launch of its new online booking platform that allows the direct bookings of virtual meeting rooms. The ability to rent public rooms and book VC facilities on a pay as you go basis may not be new – but where GVN differs from the likes of Whygo (which was launched to make booking public video conferencing facilities around the world simple and easy) or inetwork.com (which provides VOIP networking) is that it enables TMCs and buyers to book through self booking tools (SBTs) and, tying this facility into the distribution channel in the corporate space, is definitely new.
The fact that VC suppliers have woken up to the business potential of talking directly to TMCs and are creating technology that is accessible and relevant to them is a wise move. Given the squeeze on corporate travel budgets over the last few years, many corporates are only too eager to consider cost-saving alternatives intercompany travel.
David Chapple is the event director of The Business Travel Show. You can contact him virtually on Twitter @btshowlondon