This is yet another in my series of posts from the iLinc customer summit in Arizona. Andy Nilssen gave a presentation this afternoon in which he showed off several interesting trends, directions, and predictions about the use of web conferencing. Andy is a senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research, responsible for covering the audio and web conferencing sector. I don't want to restate too much of his work, since Wainhouse has put a lot of time and effort into collecting the information and offers it as a part of their services. But perhaps I can summarize a few key points to whet your appetite for more.
One of the things I found fascinating were the results of a study that surveyed use of web conferencing by smaller companies versus large enterprises. They put their arbitrary cutoff at above or below 1000 employees. They found a marked difference in most popular uses of the technology. The smaller companies concentrated on web conferencing for prospect and customer communications, often through structured events such as sales and marketing webinars. The larger companies concentrated on applications for training and team collaboration. Andy said that both types of organizations could learn from the other and review their uses to look for additional benefits they may not currently be focused on.
Another chart that caught my eye compared surveyed results on how users initiate ad hoc web conferences for collaboration. The overwhelming majority said that they linked to a web conference by using a web URL sent in an email. The smallest response rates were for meetings started from inside an application or an Instant Messaging conversation. When asked how they would like to be doing it, the results were perfectly flip-flopped. People wanted to be able to join meetings from inside applications and IM sessions and overwhelmingly rejected URL's in emails!
Andy had a lot to say about the trends in web conferencing, especially when considered in the larger context of unified communications. He looks for a strong increase in applications of the technology in the near term, fueled by business conditions, regulation, awareness of side benefits, and lifestyle choices -- as well as improvements in the technology and capabilities of the medium.
For more detail, definitely go check out Wainhouse's research and bulletins on the sector.