Delivering on the Promise of Simple, Ubiquitous Video Communications

18 Dec 2013

In the quest to provide enterprise users with ubiquitous, simple and reliable visual and collaborative communication, the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC), an international organization of global video exchange providers, network providers, manufacturers and solution providers, has announced an aggressive agenda for 2014. The consortium has put forth a bevy of initiatives to make visual and collaborative communications as simple and straightforward as a telephone call, and the proposals look to aspects of the user experience and not just basic technical compatibility.

Founded in October 2011, the OVCC's mission is to "grow the overall business use of visual and collaborative communications through a framework of interconnected service providers enabled by technology suppliers that will simplify and provide an outstanding user experience." Rather than the tedious and frustrating process of calling in a trained video technician to set up even a rudimentary intra-company video session, the OVCC's mission is to enable an environment with simple, anywhere, anytime, any party video communications. To that end, the OVCC is marking the first year of its interoperability framework, that will allow service providers to deliver consistent visual and collaborative communications experiences to enterprise users across networks, vendors and devices.

That framework is but one element in an overall agenda being pushed forward by the OVCC. In the words of OVCC president Andrew McFadzen, "Moving the enterprise from special to everyday video communications requires a sea change in both business process and technical infrastructure." In the end what that means to users is the ability to make video part of everyday business communications, both internally and externally, and to do so with the convenience of a simple telephone call.

The OVCC counts among its members not only service providers, but most of the major manufacturers of video conferencing equipment including Polycom, Cisco, Avaya, and Huawei. Initially focused on the US market, the OVCC membership has now expanded to include service providers from around the world. That will provide any user with the ability to quickly and easily establish a video or collaboration session with any other regardless of where they are, the type of equipment they are using or which carrier they are connected through. That's a far cry from the typical video experience today.

The vision they propose is an OVCC compliant interconnect network supporting interoperable video services from a wide range of service providers worldwide. This year OVCC members connected the network's first calls testing interoperability, quality and scenarios to assure users of consistent high-quality video. BCS Global and Orange Business Services logged the inaugural call, but that initiative will be extended throughout the membership in the coming year.

In support of that, an OVCC certification program will be launched in 2014 formalizing OVCC compliance and providing cross-network and cross-platform interoperability. That will include publication of Releases 1.5 and 2.0 of the OVCC specifications during the first half of the year. As interoperability and high quality user experience involve more than basic codec compatibility, those specifications will also define a global dial plan, directory, and registry, in effect creating a "white pages" for international video users.

Along with the technical and business initiatives, OVCC is moving forward on educating the market and driving the vision of simple, everyday video collaboration. Following up on its presence at Interop, Enterprise Connect, and CTIA last year, users will get to hear from OVCC members speaking at IT Expo in Miami, and they will be presenting an educational session at Enterprise Connect in Orlando in March.

The consortium has also commissioned a report from Forrester Research and will present its findings and conclusions in a webinar in the spring. Along with promoting OVCC, the webinar will educate user organizations on the barriers to business-to-business video adoption and guide them in determining a practical path to the adoption of high-quality video in their daily business practices.

Video has come a long way since the AT&T Picturephone demo at the 1964 World Fair in New York, but it has still not achieved the goal of simple, reliable, everyday access that was promised there. For end users, OVCC's efforts can potentially bring that vision of routine, high quality video communications to reality, and give business users an on-demand video capability but within their organizations and with suppliers and partners as well.



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