I spent half the day Monday at the Wainhouse Research Conference Service Providers Summit. This annual event brings conferencing service providers and vendors together in a day long event that charts the state of the art and the future of the conferencing industry. Wainhouse founder Marc Beattie's speech kicked off the day, and it didn't disappoint.
Beattie's thesis is that the collision of interests around the conferencing market will create challenges for conference service providers and vendors. As enterprise software providers, enteprise telephony companies, communications integrators and consumer crossover plays from the likes of Skype, AOL, and Google enter the mix. Confernecing is a healthy market — from from $2 billion just a few years ago, to $4 billion today, and project to reach $6 billion in the next 4 to 5 years. But not all of the revenue will go today's incumbents.
- Although more and more premises based bridges are coming to market, 73% of enterprises say will continue working with CSPs. The limited ROI of owning your own bridge, and the inability to scale it cost effectively as the business grows are the two reasons cited.
- There was 38% minute growth in the last 12 months in North America, and 46% revenue growth from Q2 '05 to Q2 '07. Per minute pricing is down, but revenues are up.
- Attended audio events (earnings calls, for instance) are on the rise again. $At $110 to $120 million per quarter, it's a healthy revenue bite.
- 75% of the market is the US, UK and Canada.
- By 2011, Wainhouse is predicting that revenues will be Audio – $4.2, Web $1.5.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Marc's talk was his focus on social networking as a force in the industry. Marc stated that social networking would be the the single largest thing – the information embodied in social networks is the key to how people get together.
Consumer networks, like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn pull in excess of 100 million visitors per month. Mostly treated as a curiosity by business people, they lack utility for work, and Marc sees them as little more than glorified contact managers. He specifically called out the lack of a "trusted network" of friends, and the inability of these systems to segment groups one from another.
If Marc was a little down on consumer social networks, he was high on enterprise social networks. He cited the example of Oracle, which home brewed a social network which grew to 2,000 users within 10 hours of being released internally. The reason for it's success inside Oracle? According to Oracle IT management "This group trusts our network because it’s inside the firewall and it’s made up of colleagues". The great thing about these internal networks is that they simplify the discovery and use of information in the enterprise across the hierarchical boundaries of the organization.
Marc also commented on the emergence of "outcome driven brands" — micro-brands based on audiences. He sees the need to brand services based on the audience, as opposed to the product.
He finished by stating that the future of conferencing services will be in the brands and ancillary services around those brands, noting that he's not yet seeing the "bundles of services" that would imply.
Good speech. Unfortunately I couldn't stay for much more of the day.