Intercall put out a press release today summarizing results from a survey of college students about watching webcast courses. I have to admit I was surprised by how widespread some of the behavior characteristics are… I knew that streaming courses over the web was done, but I didn’t realize how many students relied on it.
Consider that 48 percent of students said they take multiple classes scheduled for the same time! That’s a far cry from my college days, when I would painstakingly juggle which classes to sign up for based on whether I could get from one side of campus to the other in time. 78 percent of students said that professors had made courses available online, either live or on demand. What do you think these students are going to expect of communications when they enter the workforce? Will they agree to attend multiple product briefings or team meetings scheduled for the same time because they figure they can watch the webcast recording later?
Fortunately, small businesses seem to be adapting to the trend as well. A press release by AMI-Partners focused on trends among US businesses with fewer than 100 employees. AMI found that nearly half of these businesses use web conferencing solutions today, with penetration expected to grow to 80 percent in 2011.
But as I first pointed out three years ago and have mentioned several times since then, AMI cautions that industry revenue is in jeopardy from “a large number of low-quality, free web-conferencing solutions.” They say the quality differentiation from paid solutions is now disappearing quickly, as free web conferencing vendors add more robust features.
I would argue that for several vendors, the ONLY differentiation between their free and fee web conferencing offerings is the number of people allowed in a web meeting.
The small meeting web conference is going to get a lot more usage, but bring in a lot less money over the next year. I don’t think this is a reversible trend.