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The 80% Solution

There’s an often cited report from Cisco that “80% of the bandwidth across the internet will be video traffic by 2015” (Here’s the report, and here’s a breakdown from a blogger).  Leaving aside the quality and accuracy of Cisco’s forecasting, it raises an important question for video and communications managers:

How much of that video will serve any purpose for our business?

Over 50% of the reported video delivered is Hulu, Netflix streaming, set-top delivery, etc. – all the entertainment a viewer could want.  But what about the enterprise?  Will 80% of the available network bandwidth for businesses be taken up by video communication?  And will that video contain material that communicates necessary information to enable the employees to do their jobs correctly, or even better than before?

I think we have to highlight the difference between volume of data and impact of that data.  Video uses a lot of bandwidth – there’s simply a lot of information that needs to travel from one location to another, or to many other locations.  Yes, a five minute video, even streamed at a low bitrate, involves sending 50-100 MB of data from a server or encoder across a pipe.  But that doesn’t mean the data is more important than a one-page memo in Word format that eats up only 150KB of space – it only means that it needs more resources to travel from point A to B.

There’s no overall “owner” of the internet that cares about getting the most out of its bandwidth and resources.  There are millions of individual content owners and billions of content consumers who care about their individual transactions and experiences, but viewed overall it’s a mosaic of billions of independent events.  At the enterprise level, however, there is a contained universe of people driven by a broad strategic goal – do what we do as well as we can to help our organization succeed.  That could be selling more widgets than anyone else, or delivering the most food aid possible to starving people.

Whatever the goal, there needs to be an overall understanding that the limited resources of the organization need to be deployed in the best way possible to meet that goal.  So even if Cisco’s prediction is accurate for a broad mosaic of transactions across the globe, it doesn’t necessarily translate into 80% of the enterprise’s bandwidth being turned towards video.  I’m a proud supporter of video in the enterprise, and I do believe it’s the best way to communicate internally and externally.  I do think a larger chunk of bandwidth used in the enterprise will be video, and that it will be used for important business functions.  But when you look at the use of video within the smaller universe of organizations, I’d be surprised if the volume keeps pace with that of the wider world.

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  1. February 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm
  2. November 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm

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