You’re tired of hopping on plane after plane to travel all across the country to attend company meetings. You’d love for your firm to buy a video conferencing system so that meeting with the guys in the Topeka branch doesn’t entail actually going to Topeka.


Well, you may be in luck. A new report by Global Industry Analysts Inc. says the video conferencing market is set to grow in the coming years and will become a $14 billion global industry by 2017. Improved image quality, increasing adoption among small- and medium-sized businesses, and rising demand from developing markets, such as ones in the Asia-Pacific, will be some of the factors spurring the growth, the GIA report says.


While industry experts who spoke to Mother Nature Network wouldn’t attest that the video conferencing market will reach $14 billion by 2017, they agree with the report’s general premise: the industry is set to grow significantly in the coming years.


Market Size and Growth

The free summary of the GIA report that is available online doesn’t pinpoint the current size of the video conferencing market. Tavis McCourt, a senior technology analyst for Morgan Keegan, says the industry is now a roughly $4 billion one. Given that figure, he doesn’t believe the market will reach GIA’s projection. “It’s an industry that’s growing 20 percent or so per year,” McCourt says. “There are certainly a lot of things happening in the industry that would maybe make that growth accelerate a bit in the next few years, but nothing that would allow it to double two times between now and 2017.”


Whatever the exact figures, video conferencing is growing for a number of reasons. For starters, McCourt notes, companies are looking to reduce the expense and hassle of business travel. “Anybody who’s been to an airport recently knows why this industry is growing—because it isn’t fun to go to airports and deal with delays,” he says. “The costs only get higher. It’s a lot easier to just stay at home and make a video call.”


Corporate sustainability initiatives also are a factor, as is the dramatically improving image quality of video conferences. “When you look even five or six years ago... you had a lot of quality issues. You didn’t have the mature bandwidth,” says Sean O’Brien, executive vice president of strategy and communications for PGi, a provider of video conferencing services. 


Companies also are turning to video instead of phone conference calls because they believe it leads to meeting participants, well, participating more, O’Brien notes. “When you can see the people that you’re meeting with, people tend to be more present and accountable to the meeting,” he says. “They tend to be more attentive and more participatory, which leads to better, more productive meetings.”


The Future

While the United States is the largest video conferencing market, a good chunk of the industry’s growth is likely to come from the Asia-Pacific, currently the fastest growing market, the GIA report says. The report also notes that video conferencing systems should grow among those who work out of a home office.


O’Brien of PGi believes that the industry will grow in part because of the spread of “desktop video,” meaning conferencing available through a web-connected device that doesn’t require the on-site installation of lots of hardware and software.


For a variety of reasons, video conferencing appears set to keep growing. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll soon have to deal with fewer hassle-heavy business trips.


Editor’s note: PGi is a Mother Nature Network sponsor.

This article has been updated from the original.