Video as the new voice
Naresh Wadhwa, Country Manager, President and Country Manager, Cisco India & SAARC
India has come a long way in the last two decades. Innovations in the telecom sector have transformed our lives in unimaginable ways, empowering us with powerful tools to communicate, collaborate and access information. Since its introduction, three decades ago, the mobile phone has become the single most powerful communication tool in the hands of people, ushering in a 'voice' revolution across the country.
Over the last few years, the Internet has blurred global boundaries and brought the world closer, making 'data' an integral part of our lives. The advent of web 2.0 has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way we think, feel and go about our lives. Growing consumer demand for a consistent, high quality experience across all devices is now leading the telecom industry into its next phase of evolution - Video.
Video is a powerful tool for communication and collaboration. It can bridge distances and cultures; persuade and inform; monitor and protect. Video is a key requirement for effective collaboration as increasing globalization drives the need for more personal contact across geographic and cultural boundaries.
Businesses today use video to transform key processes, create competitive advantage, lower costs and reduce environmental impact. Meetings, presentations, training sessions, customer service, and other activities increasingly include video. Unified communication and rich media conferencing solutions along with technologies like Telepresence are designed around HD video and allow collaboration with a near 'in-person' meeting experience.
Video as voice
As the network and user experiences evolve, video is becoming the norm for communicating and collaborating with anyone, anywhere. As per a Cisco VNI report, over the next five years the sum of all forms of video will exceed 91% of global consumer traffic on the internet. Internet video is slowly becoming a substitute for TV at home and consumers today are viewing all kinds of video - from news clips, to TV shows and full-length movies over the internet. Having good-quality video is the way forward.
Given the current rate of adoption and growth, video is expected to become the new 'voice' and everyday interactions with coworkers and customers will increasingly involve video. According to a survey by an American Analytics firm Comscore, over the past year US audiences watching YouTube and Hulu increased to 68% and 75% respectively. We expect a similar trend in India, as greater bandwidth is made available and broadband penetration increases.
The advent of 3G/4G and WiMAX will make video available at the price of voice, while new technologies like cloud computing will become a viable means to deliver video (broadcast, catch-up, and video on demand, or VoD) to a multitude of devices. They will also help create concepts like "Social TV"-exporting social-networking and communications applications from the computer to the television and take the converged entertainment experience beyond video.
In the future video will become part of data streams triggered by most smart phones and the fabric of nearly every application. With video applications in the consumer market being driven by ease of use and low cost, a variety of devices like mobile phones and PDAs will deliver high-quality video even as social networking sites like YouTube and MySpace enable easy distribution.
Today all major industry verticals - entertainment (including games), healthcare and education increasingly use video. Technologies like telemedicine which combine voice, video, and other collaboration tools enable patients and health providers to come together on a common platform and interact in real time. Collaboration solutions that include audio, video and web integration provide effective virtual classroom experiences thereby expanding the learning opportunities for students in remote locations.
Going forward technologies like Telepresence will become part of the everyday experience at home and the workplace; video mail will become as mundane as email; healthcare experts will interact with patients more easily across remote locations while access to high quality education will be enabled through virtual classrooms. The source of video content creation will shift from a small number of centralized, organized professionals, producing premium content... to billions of dispersed, independent individuals producing informal, personalized content.
Video presents huge business opportunities and challenges. Transfer and delivery of video is complex with many networks, formats and standards working together to produce high quality visual data. Delivering new video experiences will place additional demands on networks in terms of performance, adaptability, and manageability. To deliver an immersive video experience, greater collaboration will be required between service providers, content providers and network infrastructure providers. Networks of the future will need to support many rich media types along with traditional voice and data services.
Addressing these challenges will help service providers to offer a plethora of services that bring together data, voice and video. This will revolutionize consumer interaction with technology and also open up additional revenue streams for diverse business segments.
Currently we are in the midst of a market transition to 'pervasive video.' The future would be about making video available for everyone, everywhere and on any device. There would be an increased focus on improving the quality of customer experience. Ultimately, distinctions between applications and devices will become obsolete and customers will benefit from a seamless, holistic video experience... as 'normal' part of everyday life.