If we ever expect video to become the default medium for our meetings we have to give the people what they want… a care-free solution.

When you were making a phone call, have you ever worried about what kind of phone the other person had?  Did it ever cross your mind that their phone might not be compatible with yours?  Of course not!

The beauty of today’s public switched telephony network (PSTN) is that it just works.  It’s interoperable.  You pick up a phone, dial a ten digit number, and make the call.  It doesn’t matter if you are on a wired or wireless network, or if you are on an iPhone, a desk phone, or even a payphone (if you can still find one…).

Traditional video conferencing, on the other hand has been plagued by worries, putting tremendous pressure on the meeting organizer and IT staff.  Lack of interoperability is frequently cited as the primary reason why traditional video conferencing has not propagated more widely (…followed , of course, by cost and complexity).

According to Wainhouse Research , there were 80 billion minutes of audio conferencing services sold worldwide in 2012 but only 200 million minutes of video.  That means the video conferencing market could quadruple and still represent only about 1% of the audio conferencing market.

When you set up a video meeting there are things you should care about and things you shouldn’t.  You should care about when the meeting is and who attends.  You should not care about where anyone will be, how they will choose to connect, or what type of device (or vendor) they’ll be using.   All of these things are beyond your control.

This is true within the enterprise, but its even more important for B2B or B2C communications.  It’s common for a company to standardize on a particular vendor for its video conferencing platform, but nearly impossible for a company to mandate that all of its suppliers, partners, and customers use the same gear.

The result is that most traditional video conference rooms have become glorified intercoms between similarly equipped rooms within the same company.  This is a shame as the value of a communications medium is directly proportional to the number of people it can connect.  It’s called a network effect.  The more people I can meet with, the more meetings I am going to do.

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that a video meeting is better than an audio meeting.  It’s more effective, it’s more engaging, it’s even usually shorter.  Yet video meetings are like new year resolutions.  They usually don’t actually get done. And as a result the video conferencing industry as a whole has been stuck in neutral. Until now.

What platform(s) are you using video conferencing? How do you manage the compatibility when connecting to the outside world?