Video conferencing has become one of the benchmarks of a connected business world. Corporations and small businesses alike depend on video conferencing advances and reliable services to keep them involved with customers, clients, partners and their competition. The draw of having instant access to colleagues no matter where in the world they may be stationed in relation to you is a powerful one, and more and more the demands for better service, faster and with more options, is pushing technology far into the future. However, one weakness seems to have become a flaw in the plan for the teleconferencing takeover. Standards and interoperability have been limited by companies competing for the highest market position and having no interest in sharing the podium. A communication solution is only as viable as its ability to work with other solutions and that’s where teleconferencing has hit a snag. Here are a few ways that the video conferencing industry has started to address these issues, and why it’s good news for you.
Why Open Standards Are Important
There is no one true definition of the concept of open standards, and many different players in many different industries have their own interpretation of what open standards constitute. However there are some common themes when open standards are discussed and it’s generally accepted that there are three requirements for a standard to be considered open.
- The standard is maintained by a non-profit organization or in a not-for-profit scenario and allows all interested parties to participate in its development and direction.
- The standard is patented under a royalty-free basis indefinitely, no single entity has control of how and when it is used.
- There are no restrictions on use and the standard is allowed to be used for the development of other products and services.
Open standards that you might be familiar with include W3C or the World Wide Web Consortium, which is responsible for the development of protocols and languages used on the Internet for programming, development and web building. If you’re familiar with HTML, CSS and XML, these are part of an open standard. Companies weighing the value of video conferencing standards BlueJeans should focus their search on platforms built with interoperability in mind.
These types of open standards are also important because they allow vendors to design and build products that are capable of communicating with the applications that other vendors design and develop. Open standard video conferencing software is able to connect across platforms without restrictions or compromises that might render the programs less functional. This allows a greater number of people to be connected more easily without having to juggle multiple devices or programs to ensure they have interoperability with partners and clients.
Proprietary Protocols Reign
The question then remains that if open standards essentially facilitate open communicate via video conferencing and the telecommunications industry is working so hard to push this technology to the next level of dependence across the globe, why are proprietary standards still in effect? Companies that have cornered markets using proprietary standards, such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and more, must recognize the value of utilizing open standards when rolling out new applications for companies and consumers. However, it’s not difficult to see what those companies stand to lose if they do adopt more open standards across the board. Proprietary protocols rule many areas of technology because the corporations that hold the reins refuse to loosen their grip and their products may be so entrenched in public use that it would be hard for an open standard startup to get enough of a solid footing to act as a real threat.
The Trickle Down Effect
The unfortunate result of proprietary protocols is that corporate entities are less likely to adopt standards when it means that they will have to invest in multiple different programs or services to ensure that their communications platforms are compatible with those they are looking to connect to. And as the trickledown effect implies, this reluctance to invest is then passed down along the line and created a culture of resistance. Vendors designing for business then have to compete against consumer-geared products because they are more readily available and have less exacting standards, they may even be free to use.
Companies will sacrifice convenience and some level of information security if the cost to invest in technology outweighs its overall interoperability. If technology like email were proprietary, consider how difficult it would be to send a message from one platform to another or even one email service provider to another. These issues drive the industry and either make or break technological advances in their infancy.
Proprietary standards might still rule the roost as far as video conferencing options are concerned, but the push for open standard applications is on the rise. The tide of consumer opinion has the ability to shift the power from the top tier occupants to the open standard startups if the demand is loud enough.