Good news for video conferencing
Clive Couldwell, August 25, 2011
JANET’s video conferencing report into the education and research sector reports that 86% of organisations expect to see significant growth in usage. Use is widespread across the sector but could be more frequent. There are high levels of internal use within organisations. Cost and time savings are considered most important benefits.
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Video conferencing (vcon) is widespread across the sector, with usage ranging from 73% (Further Education) and 74% (Higher Education) to 100% (Research Institutions).
However frequency of use varied: 33% of Local Authorities use it daily compared with 15–20% of organisations in other sectors. Most respondents reported using it weekly.
Looking forward, 86% of respondents predicted that the use of vcon would increase within their organisation due to a combination of improvements in video conferencing technology and a wider drive to reduce organisational costs.
Vicon is often – rightly – perceived as a technology for communicating between organisations, cutting down on travel costs and time. However, in HE in particular, it is also used for more collaborative applications such as liaison with other academic institutions (38%) and other sites (33%).
Interesting niche applications included using the service for:
• interviewing (17%)
• project work (14%)
The perceived benefits of vcon in general were total cost of ownership (34%), followed by savings on travel and time (21%). The particular importance of using vcon for improving teaching and lecturing delivery came from FE (13%) and LEA (15%) respondents.
Compared to the importance of cost savings in the current economic climate, only 3% of respondents considered the green benefits of vcon as significant. Counterbalancing this, 21% of organisations see the value of travel savings through video conferencing, and so this technology is likely to have a significant effect on the overall carbon footprint of the sector.
Other important factors highlighted were the need for compatibility with other end users and the need to have booking-free, desktop-based video conferencing services.
Most respondents regarded video conferencing as simple to use, which is perhaps a reflection of the maturity of the technology.