Mobile Video Communication: Enterprise Ready or Consumer Toy?

In Mobility by Daniel NewmanLeave a Comment

We are all becoming more familiar with mobile video apps. The availability of Skype and FaceTime allows us to call home or chat face to face with a friend from anywhere. These apps work, they are simple, and they integrate with our mobile lifestyle. These tools have exponentially increased our comfort level with mobile video conferencing. Many of us are using these apps frequently in our personal lives. The biggest reason why we prefer these apps is because they are simple to use. Simply download them and they are ready to be used.

In terms of mobile video, users want a “native” experience similar to making a regular voice call. These mobile video apps are replicating that experience. They have not just blended in seamlessly with our mobile lifestyle, but they have prepared us to make the leap into the world of mobile video conferencing. That’s the consumer side of the story, but has this trend taken off in business? Before we dig into the question let’s look at how mobile is reshaping business communications.

How Mobile Has Changed the Game

As enterprises branch out globally, telecommuters, the remote workforce, and enhanced mobility are becoming common realities in the business landscape. Companies focus their efforts to bring together colleagues and clients from diverse geographic locations. Thanks to the low-cost video conferencing revolution, video is coming out of the boardroom and increasingly moving to our mobile devices.

In an article published on, Vern Hanzlik, executive vice president and general manager of Qumu, a manufacturer of video and other digital archival solutions, discussed a recent study commissioned by his company. Of more than 1000 business executives surveyed, 50 percent said they use smartphones and 33 percent use tablets at work every day. The survey found that one-fifth of the respondents have already deployed mobile video solutions.

But, even if we speak purely from our own experiences and take the numbers out of the equation, many of us are using secure, private, and high quality video solutions for our workplace needs. We are not limiting video to personal use. How many of us are using Skype to conduct meetings and discuss work? A large number of us relate to the desire to use simple tools and apps at work because we are already comfortable using them at home. Why? Because with video becoming easier and more pervasive, thanks to the consumer video platforms, many of us have experience with video calling. Why would we take the time to familiarize ourselves with a new and complicated video tool when we already know and love the consumer tool we use at home?

The Jump from Tech Toy to Tool

This is the reason why consumer grade video applications are bleeding into organizations. Employees are taking liberty from the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement and using their favorite apps on their own devices for work. They are happily, and perhaps unknowingly, relinquishing security for comfort, and sidestepping IT regulations to use products that improve their work productivity. Clearly, for enterprises, consumer technology is the culprit pushing them into the clutches of “Shadow IT”—the use of unauthorized apps that are potentially unsecure and risky for business purposes. Enterprises come face-to-face with the question: is “Shadow IT” turning Skype into an acceptable business application?

Microsoft identified the quandary facing today’s businesses and released its long awaited Skype for Business—marrying the security of its enterprise solution, Lync, with the familiarity of its consumer video platform, Skype. Have enterprise users found their sweet spot with Skype for Business? It may be too early to come to that conclusion. We need to see how well Skype for Business meets enterprise communication standards for security and privacy.

What’s the Next Move?

At the same time, other leaders in enterprise video have thrown their hats into the arena of mobile video apps. We have seen recent offerings focus of simplifying collaboration and address the issue that keeps employees from fully embracing enterprise grade products. However, for these apps to compete successfully with the growing footprint of consumer-grade mobile video apps, they need to strike the right balance between high video-audio quality, robust security features, and absolute ease of use. Employees want solutions that are familiar, easy to use, and simple to access, like the ones that they’ve been using for quite some time now—FaceTime, Skype, and Hangouts. Enterprises want solutions that are cost effective and don’t put their employees’ or their own data at risk. Enterprise grade solutions that incorporate the needs of employees while mitigating security risks will find a happy home in the business world.

Mobile video communication is poised to make the jump from toy to tool as young workers step through the doors of our businesses. The next generation was born with these devices in hand, they’ve grown up with mobile video technology and they are sure to bring it, and the future, with them into the workforce.

This article was originally seen on Ricoh blog.

Photo Credit: johnnydeep5637 via Compfight cc

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.

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