November 24, 2015
'Huddle Rooms' Set To Spur Growth of Small Space Video Conferencing Systems
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
It would appear that in an era of video conferencing capability built into every handheld device, the need for large video conferencing systems would be on the wane. The truth is just the opposite: many companies are splashing out on technology to build “huddle rooms,” or small spaces that are equipped with audio, video and display system technology to facilitate group videoconferencing to collaborate. According to research from Gartner (News - Alert), huddle rooms are in growth mode: video systems purchased for huddle rooms are expected to account for 10 percent of the market this year and 20 percent of the market in 2016. The same Gartner report, which will be released next month, is estimating that group video conferencing usage throughout the enterprise will increase 400 percent by 2019.
In many cases, the changing nature of the workplace is responsible for the popularity of huddle rooms. Companies are increasingly designing their spaces according to an open plan in which workers with laptops or tablets can roam rather than be stuck in a cubicle all day. The downside of offices, however, means a dearth of small spaces in which videoconference sessions can occur with privacy and no distractions. Video conference technology for large rooms – think conference rooms – can be prohibitively expensive not to mention difficult to use without consulting a member of the IT team, so market leaders are focusing on smaller systems for smaller spaces, putting huddle rooms within capital expenditure reach of even small to medium-sized businesses. The newer systems are also easier to use, which means time won’t be wasted fiddling to get a connection, get the audio right or ensure that everyone can see and hear.
"The workspace has become more open, and if you're going to do a video conference you have to go into a private space so that you're not distracting to your colleagues," said Gartner analyst Bern Elliot.
According to Tracee Herbaugh writing for Tech Target, the growth in huddle rooms is a good opportunity for vendors of room systems to increase their sales. Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, told Herbaugh that less than 15 percent of companies already equipped with room systems are replacing them with newer or different models.
“The huddle space is that great untapped market," said Lazar.
To this end, a variety of large players – think Microsoft and its Skype (News - Alert) for Business offering – as well as startups are moving into the huddle room space. Panoramic cameras are becoming more common to eliminate the need to literally “huddle” around a Web cam. As prices for video conferencing systems falls, the number of deployments will rise.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson