According to Imago Communications South Africa, video conferencing use will be on the increase in the future. This is mainly due to the increase in petrol prices and the new toll system coming into play which will substantially increase motorists’ travelling budgets.
Videoconferencing – the virtual meeting technology which increases the ability to have face time meetings, without having to travel – is about to enter a new growth phase in South Africa. This time the drivers are the imminent imposition of tolls on Gauteng highways and higher fuel prices.
Trend-spotters at VC technology distributors Imago Communications SA say a new wave of sales enquiries looks certain to entrench the VC gains of 2010, a breakthrough year in the domestic market for VC purchase and utilisation by corporates, parastatals and government agencies.
“We’ve seen a spike in enquiries about new VC installations since the heavy media play given to big increases in the cost of commuting,” notes Imago MD Clint Cronjé.
“Last year, Imago achieved sales growth of 221% across video, voice and UC (unified communications). A key driver then was the fear that domestic airlines would be overloaded because of the expected influx of World Cup visitors. VC became the preferred alternative to business travel at a lot of major companies.
“This time around, the fear appears to be staff resistance to too much to-ing and fro-ing by car to attend meetings in view of the high cost of town-and-around travel, especially in Greater Johannesburg. Once again the technology increases the amount of face time, saving costs while ensuring key staff stay time-efficient.”
In World Cup year, major corporates, multinationals, government and quasi-government agencies had been most receptive to the business case for VC.
Installation enquiries in the first quarter of 2011 come from a broader mix of sales prospects as mid-size businesses begin to examine VC technology.
“To some extent there’s a ‘viral’ element to the growth in enquiries,” says Cronjé. “In business circles there has been a lot of talk about VC paying for itself through travel savings – especially savings on air travel.
“Executives at mid-size companies serving major corporates hear about this or maybe find themselves sitting in on corporate VC sessions as a supplier. In this way, they catch the VC ‘bug’ and look at ways of deploying similar platforms at their own offices.
“However, at the back of a lot of minds is the thought that commuting costs are about to rocket and that a review of time and costs associated with meeting-related travel is long overdue. Any review leads to a quest for an effective response and after experience in 2010 VC is top of the list of proven solutions.”
Acceptance of the new technology by mid-size business will represent a new tipping point for VC in South Africa, according to the industry leaders at Imago.
“Mid-size and smaller businesses are exceptionally value conscious when committing to capital expenditure,” says Cronjé. “We are confident the business case for VC is compelling. When mid-range companies acknowledge the affordability and price-effectiveness of this solution, VC will make the final leap from novel technology to must-have business hardware in the same way that fax machines made the transition 25 years ago.
“That development is now on the near-term horizon.”