Polycom has released a study it commissioned that stands as a great continuation of the debate Yahoo stimulated early this month on the value of telecommuting.
The study, which was conducted by Wainhouse Research, actually looks at the drivers of videoconferencing, not telecommuting per se. From the highest level, however, the issues are deeply related in that they both focus on the effectiveness and subtleties of remote work.
The survey, entitled, “End-User Survey: The ‘Real’ Benefits of Video,” gathered opinions from almost 5,000 enterprise video users worldwide. Wainhouse found that 94 percent said that the top benefit is increased efficiency/productivity. That is followed by “increased impact of discussions,” faster decision-making and less travel time. The former two hit 88 percent and the latter 87 percent.
The respondents appeared to feel that video created a connection between physically distant people, the heart of the Yahoo debate:
Of the total respondents who work from home, 87 percent strongly agree or agree that the use of video conferencing allows them to work from home without feeling disconnected.
This response speaks to Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer’s rationale for ending telecommuting. She suggested that creativity is more likely to take root if people are in the same location.
It is possible that both sides are right: Videoconferencing reduces the isolation – and, presumably, increases personal and business communications – though being in the same place still outshines even the best remote connection. However, what Mayer may have overlooked is that the landscape is changing. The gap still exists – but it is closing as technology improves and people are more accustomed to dealing with each other electronically.
The attention comes as videoconferencing market recovers from a bit of a slump, according to Infonetics Research. The firm said that the first half of 2012 was down, but that an upward trajectory during the second half of the year enabled the sector to finish flat. The press release has some good detail, including the fact that multipoint systems fare better than dedicated systems and that endpoint shipments rose 47 percent.
The Yahoo situation no doubt is a big topic at Enterprise Connect, which is being held this week in Orlando. News from the conference included word that Vidyo soon will introduce VidyoGateway and VidyoPortal Virtual Editions. TechCrunch – which also noted that the firm claims to have increased billings by 68 percent last year – said the new products are designed to use virtualization to make adoption easier and cheaper, particularly for large organizations.
Seemingly along the same lines, Yorktel introduced its VideoCloud, which is a hosted platform that can cut costs associated with equipment purchases.
A great chart at Telepresence Options highlights various companies’ offerings. The bottom line is that videoconferencing – and the broader world of unified communications – is growing in both size and sophistication. Mayer’s objections may actually help the market by giving people the impetus to pay closer attention.