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Video instant messaging: a misunderstood KM disrupter

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Third, if VIM is to be used for collaborating on environments and objects, then still-image functionality that freezes and captures views in HD should be provided within the VIM frame. That enables a detailed visual examination of a specific point in time, and also creates a file of record. Shifting between moving and still images in a collaborative engagement, allowing a free-flowing interaction and the capture of specific elements, would be of great value to many industry- and process-specific collaborative situations.

The marketplace

VIM is just starting to appear in enterprise collaboration systems. In the past few months, Teambox and Citrix have bundled the functionality into their suites. Microsoft is now supporting consumer-friendly Skype audio and video alongside Lync, its more corporate-oriented video conferencing system. IBM (ibm.com) and Oracle (oracle.com) have long bundled VIM into their collaboration suites, and Google (google.com) is finding it a popular element of its enterprise application offerings.

But as with many other vendors, they all still position the functionality purely for face-to-face communication for knowledge workers. From our analysis, we believe that TIBCO, with Tibbr, and Google, with Hangouts, are the two players that most "get" the potential at this point. Although not reflected in its current marketing or shipping products, TIBCO understands better than many of its competitors the need to tie collaboration back to measurable business tasks, while Google is actively pushing the "mobile by default" approach to collaboration. Adding VIM functionality to KM products is relatively easy because third-party software (such as Zoom, zoom.us) can be licensed for use.

But building in persistence elements and refining the use cases and collaborative process applications that leverage VIM will take much more effort. Over time, however, VIM will prove to be a catalyst in the growth of enterprise collaboration. It will likely take 12 to18 months before we start to see the reconfigured and freshly minted collaboration applications that fully leverage VIM (beyond one-to-one chat) emerge. For those that are early to market-and in particular those going early into specific markets such as healthcare, law enforcement, engineering and maintenance—the payoff should come quickly.

Our take

VIM has a key role to play in taking enterprise collaboration to the next level. However, that role is not so much about being able to see the face of the other person as it is about viewing and capturing in real time what the other party is seeing. Sure, some people like to see the face of the person they are talking to—but for others, that can be an unwanted distraction. Tying functionality to a key and measurable line of business is what all enterprise applications need to do, and in many instances, enterprise collaboration systems are full of bluster, with little tangible value. VIM has the potential to change that for the better, but enterprise collaboration vendors must also grasp the opportunity to move beyond selling generic platforms for knowledge workers. They must instead—either directly or through the channel—start building and selling collaborative software that meets the specific needs of industry- and process-oriented tasks.

We expect to see more vertical- and job-specific use cases developed into preconfigured applications, with still image file creation/management added to the VIM experience. We envisage a wide range of structured collaborative applications-for industries like healthcare, law enforcement, engineering, architecture, real estate, defense, fashion and retail-becoming available over time. Those practical, real-world applications would be underpinned by some basic workflows and pre-built folder structures, making them instantly relevant and useable in those environments. Enterprise collaboration tools and suites already have many of the key pieces of the puzzle; now they need to put them together into a coherent, practical whole.

The pros & cons of using video


  • People are self-conscious on camera.
  • the audio/video quality varies.
  • A poor or lost connection means no conference at all.
  • It's a poor substitute for face-to-face meetings.
  • Signal delays can ruin the flow.


  • Seeing the other attendees builds a deeper connection.
  • It reduces travel costs and time on the road.
  • Meetings can be recorded.
  • Video is a good substitute

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