As we noted in Part 1 of this series, enterprise mobile video conferencing is increasingly becoming a reality thanks to growing availability of consumer solutions such as Apple's FaceTime for iPhone and iPad, Sprint's Qik, and apps such as Fring. All of these services are driving increasing interest in extending mobile video platforms to the enterprise mobile user, both internally and externally.
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So is integration with consumer services the only option for those seeking to leverage enterprise mobile video? Not quite. Thanks to the rapid uptake of mobile platforms such as the iPad; video conferencing vendors are quickly adding support for mobile video platforms to their own offerings, enabling business customers to embrace mobile devices as a natural extension of their existing or planned video conferencing platform. Examples include Vidyo's VidyoMobile, Polycom's support for the Samsung Galaxy tablet and Cisco's own Cius tablet with video conferencing capabilities.
Successfully supporting mobile video conferencing platforms in the enterprise requires IT architects to address support and management issues upfront, and to work with security and compliance groups to minimize risk.
For example, as I noted in Part 1 of this series, mobile video hasn't exactly produced the greatest quality user experience thanks to camera shaking, poor camera quality and poor environmental controls. Thus, you need to set user expectations accordingly. Those participating in a high-quality immersive telepresence conference featuring life-like HD audio and video might not take too kindly to a mobile user in a dark room with an SD camera, shaking his or her device while moving around. One must remember that the goal of mobile video platforms is to improve the collaborative experience, not diminish it.
Secondly, robust video requires a solid underlying network fabric. Unless your users are in 4G or WiMAX areas with great coverage, this means that they will need to position themselves in range of a Wi-Fi access point (AP). And not just any AP, but one with sufficient throughput to minimize video conferencing latency; your typically over-subscribed public access point won't do.
Finally, if mobile video is an enterprise-supported application, your help desk must prepare itself to answer calls from users experiencing problems with mobile video applications, meaning you need to provision management tools to gain insight into performance of applications on mobile devices.
Another area of concern is compliance and security for mobile conferencing users, given that they will often participate in conferences while physically located outside of corporate walls. Concerns we've heard include staying HIPAA-compliant when physicians or patients use mobile video conferencing for consultations, securing financial advice provided via mobile video chats, or simply protecting proprietary or company-sensitive information discussed during a conference involving a mobile participant connecting from a public space such as a hotel or airport. Security managers may wish to ensure that conferences are encrypted as well, especially if going across public access points.
None of these concerns are showstoppers, but they all require careful consideration as part of an effective enterprise mobile video conferencing strategy . Work with your vendors to understand their capabilities in terms of devices, management, security and privacy, and educate your users on the need to protect corporate information assets and set realistic quality expectations for mobile video applications.
Read Part 1 of this series on mobile video conferencing: The benefits and drawbacks of enterprise mobile video conferencing.
About the author:
Irwin Lazar is the vice president for communications and collaboration research at Nemertes Research, where he develops and manages research projects, develops cost models, conducts strategic seminars and advises clients. Irwin is responsible for benchmarking the adoption and use of emerging technologies in the enterprise in areas including VoIP, unified communications, video conferencing, social computing, collaboration and advanced network services.