Written by Dave Tidler, Media Services Solutions Architect, Yorktel.

If you think video conferencing technology, streaming media, and webcast technologies aren’t changing as rapidly as other technologies, you need to think again. A 2013 survey conducted by Ragan Communications and Ignite Technologies involving 713 corporate communicators — including company owners, vice presidents, writers, producers and managers — revealed that 71 percent of companies are already producing videos to communicate with employees.

Admittedly, many responders were using video teleconferencing (VTC) in a limited capacity in 2013, but 72 percent of respondents said they planned to increase their use of video in the near future. And – since the time of that survey – there have been several key events that have transpired and are continuing to transpire that make a good case for 2015 being a banner year for video communication adoption.

"There are several important technology trends occurring simultaneously within the public sector that are pointing to a significant uptick in the adoption of video communication and streaming media in 2015." – Dave Tidler

“There are several important technology trends occurring simultaneously within the public sector that are pointing to a significant uptick in the adoption of video communication and streaming media in 2015.” – Dave Tidler

Video Media Services Meet the Flexibility Demands of Today’s Workforce

Collaboration has always been a need within and among public sector agencies, often requiring massive planning and coordinating to bring various subject matter experts to the same table. Government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Treasury, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) realize that achieving these goals doesn’t always require participants to drive or fly to the same physical location.

The FTC recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary. In the past, to announce a special milestone like this one, it would have had to invite news agencies to a press conference to disseminate the news. In today’s world, however, the agency was able to achieve the same (or better) results using streaming media services to reach its target audience on its own.

The NTSB also now enhances its public events via live streaming webcasts, which enable it to reach a much wider audience without the hassle and restrictions of coordinating a physical meeting location.

Video communication has been around for years. So, why is it just starting to take off? Here are a few key reasons:

VTC costs are declining as VTC performance is increasing – Video conferencing, streaming media, and webcasts have traditionally been hardware-centric technology solutions. Over the past few years, however, there has been a shift in interest and demand for software and services-based video communication solutions. This new model is a key driver behind lower costs and higher performance capabilities.

Virtualization is Becoming a Reality – One of the technology enablers behind software-based video conferencing is virtualization, which allows software-based components to be deployed more cost effectively. For example, you can put your video management layer, Session Border Controller, and gateway/gatekeeping services on the same physical server now, rather than using a dedicated device for each component.

Cloud adoption, which is growing at a CAGR of more than 20 percent a year through 2019 according to research from Frost and Sullivan, is another enabler behind the VTC adoption trend. Cloud-based VTC solutions not only replace large upfront capital investments with much smaller monthly subscription fees, they also protect organizations from the worries of technology upgrades, maintenance and repair costs.

Outsourced Video Technology and Content Delivery Platforms Provide Significant Cost-Savings – For example, in the past an agency may have had the need to establish point-to-point video conferencing with other agencies in major cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. As agencies’ needs evolved and they wanted to collaborate with satellite facilities based in rural locations, the video quality and streaming experiences were much less predictable.

By partnering with a media services companies and leveraging the latest content delivery network that incorporate variable bit rate streaming that can recognize end users’ technology and available bandwidth, every VTC participant can enjoy the same high-quality video experience.

Video Communication Standards are Enabling BYOD Participation – One of the inhibitors to widespread video communication adoption in the past was been due to disparate standards throughout the video conferencing chain. For example, disparate web browsers didn’t support the same plug-ins, proprietary media players supported a limited set of video formats, and mobile devices had their own limitations.  In recent years, however, we’ve seen a move to standards-based protocols such as SIP (session initiation protocol) and H.264, which now allow end users to mix and match across different video conferencing, streaming media, and webcast vendors and brands, and across different end point types and networks.

This trend is highly complementary to the BYOD phenomena where workers are bringing their own technology, including the latest tablet devices, to work. Three years ago, these workers couldn’t do much more than access their email on their personal devices, but thanks to the above-mentioned advances in VTC technologies, BYOD enthusiasts can now enjoy crisp, two-way video communication with other workers and collaboration partners located anywhere else in the country – or throughout the world for that matter.

Dave Tidler is a Senior Level Manager at Yorktel with 20 years of digital media experience. As a Media Services Solutions Architect, David is charged with blending technology and digital communications with a heavy background in creative management and strategy.

For more information on the video cloud solutions and other advances that will drive video collaboration adoption in 2015, check out Yorktel’s entries in the Public Sector View Resource Center.