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Response to Forrester Desktop Video Study: Don’t Knock it Till You Try It

February 17, 2011 - 2 Comments

As you may have seen, there’s been a lot of hype lately about a Forrester study which found that while business executives are excited about the promise of desktop video collaboration, workforce data reveals that “most of the workforce doesn’t have access to and isn’t bullish on using desktop video for business purposes.”

Interestingly, we conducted similar research on the topic last spring and found a similar result.  True, many in the workforce don’t have access.  And true, some of those who don’t have it aren’t hungry for it. However, the study we commissioned with Ipsos Mori went a layer deeper than Forrester’s study.  Our study looked at the perceptions between users and non-users and uncovered a great divide between those who use the technology and those who don’t.  Specifically:

  • Most respondents value benefits of video collaboration, such as increased productivity, reduced confusion, and improved group collaboration. And although both users and nonusers recognize the value of video collabora­tion technologies (76 vs. 60 percent, respectively), workers who frequently use the technology overwhelmingly value some of the qualitative benefits more than nonusers; for example, improving work-life balance (70 percent of frequent users vs. 37 percent of nonusers), increasing competitive advantage (73 percent of frequent users vs. 42 percent of nonusers), and bringing people closer together (71 percent of frequent users vs. 40 percent of nonusers).
  • The overwhelming majority (90 percent) of frequent users (those who use video conferencing technologies once or more per week) say the technology saves them at least 2 hours of valuable work time a week—yet only 33 percent of nonusers believe they could save any time using the technology.

These results demonstrate a significant gap between user and nonuser perceptions.  And what this all comes down to is you have to try it to understand it.  You have to experience the benefits to appreciate them.  So here’s my challenge to the skeptics:  Try telepresence regularly for a month and then tell me you’re not excited.  Trust me, there are few of you out there that wouldn’t be sold.

*The research, conducted by Ipsos Mori, polled an internationally rep­resentative sample of workers from across 12 important markets.

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  1. Thanks for your insights and commentary. You definitely raise some interesting and valid points. When we set out to conduct the research, we wanted to see not only the perceptions about the ‘softer’ benefits of visual communication (i.e. increased productivity, reduced confusion, improved work-life balance, etc.), but also the differences in attitudes between users and non-users. Clearly we expected there to be a difference in appreciation – but the research shows that non-users are definitely not blind to the advantages.

    And you absolutely hit the nail on the head with your point about ensuring a business looks at visual collaboration technologies as a way to drive business – that’s exactly why we looked at the ‘softer’ benefits of the technology, such as faster decision making. When looking to implement video, it’s important to identify the strategic use case, or what one often hears referred to as the “killer app”. In other words, video communication is a tool that needs to be applied to a business practice not to a user. It’s all about matching video to the business case. For example, if telepresence will lead to faster decision making, then that can accelerate a product’s time to market – which equates to real business value. Or in the case of a professional services or consulting firm, using video instead of the phone to speak with your client daily can increase trust and ultimately strengthen the partnership.

    Our call to “just try it” is not to say it’s beneficial to every worker in every situation – clearly that would be misguided – but rather our challenge is for those who could start using it for work in place of a phone call or instead of travel, should try it. Clearly not every business situation can be handled via telepresence, but trying it does change many skeptics into believers.

    As far as rolling out a video program, we’ve developed a website with considerations and resources to help companies plan a successful rollout and help ensure their investment pays off quickly: .

  2. Interesting research, however the presented outcome miss the real issue: It should not come as a surprise there is a difference in appreciation of visual collaboration between users and non-users: if not, non-users would not be non-users after all. The research seem to suggest that non-users are blind to the advantages and miss essential information for making up their minds.

    Although I am a strong supporter of Visual Collaboration and believe that it will become a standard way of communicating in our society in less than a decade, I also feel that the non-user community is not taken very serious here. A mistake in my opinion.
    I see two misconceptions: the first is that we all should use video conferencing and that it will be beneficial to all of us. This definitely is untrue: many situations benefit from Visual Collaboration, however in as many situations Visual Collaboration is just not an alternative to real-presence. The key thing is to work on business driven user-case scenarios and offer users a mix of ‘fit for purpose’ collaboration tools. Many organisations just forget this step and heavily invest in Video Solutions only to discover that usage lags behind projections.

    The second misconception is that we think that users will automatically benefit from all potential advantages of Visual Collaboration. Again: in most deployments the user is the last aspect that is taken into consideration when investing in Video technology. I know many companies that have a fully featured Video Infrastructure while employees are just not using it, and (sadly enough) often with very good cause. The solution has simply not been developed with the users in mind. In my opinion the very first thing to do when planning a video rollout is to start working on business scenarios, policies and use cases. Talk with you users, establish ‘new way of working’ best practises and secure these at the very business foundation of your organisation. Only when this done, it’s time to look at a potential technology vendor. And even after having implemented a video solution a contineous program should be run at all levels of the organisation to contineously adapt the Visual Collaboration best practises to your business needs.

    So ‘trying’ Video is good, but not before you have ‘thought business’.