This can be a frustrating problem for businesses that invest in expensive hardware or services, to find that they can only connect with endpoints of the same nature.
The value of video conferencing is often dependent on the number of people using it, the user experience or the number of different users and systems people can connect to.
It can be a limiting factor if you cannot do multi-site video conferencing easily, which can undermine its value and hugely affect the user adoption of the systems or service. This is why interoperability is so important; the network effect.
Many video conferencing systems require users to purchase a gateway to call other third party video conferencing devices. Many vendors have historically neglected interoperability development when it comes to their systems but this could be something that is about to change.
Improving video conferencing systems
When it comes to video conferencing, the focus has long been on improving collaboration tools within the company; how can you remove inefficiencies between departments within the business? The goal is now shifting towards having that efficiency with both your customers and business partners too.
This year at the Enterprise Connect conference, two key companies in the communications industry have expressed their support towards interoperability going forward. Both Microsoft and Cisco have declared a desire for interoperability, despite having competing systems and platforms.
Enterprise Connect brought together a panel of executives from the industry’s largest vendors, including the likes of Cisco, Google and Microsoft to discuss the Unified Communications (UC) landscape.
Rowan Trollope, who leads Cisco’s collaboration technology group, used Cisco’s acquisition of Acano to show that interoperability is something they are serious about. Acano’s meeting platform can connect Cisco endpoints to other third party products like Microsoft’s Skype for Business.
It might finally be time to make Unified Communications a software focus in order to keep video conferencing a productive solution. The rise of Unified Communications is a challenge for interoperability, as both UC and traditional video conferencing platforms have different architectures.
UC is popular with enterprises as it just requires their existing PC; as a result of this, video conferencing vendors are having to add UC support to their products.
Email is an example of how difficult it can be to achieve interoperability, or perhaps an example of how slow vendors can move when it comes to making changes. Email has been around for four decades, but messages from different systems still don’t have perfect fidelity.