The web-conferencing market in Hong Kong is set for significant growth and will continue to evolve as customers become more concerned about functions and usability. With the popularity of mobile devices and social networking applications, web conferencing providers will focus more on creating easy-to-use solutions and integrating existing communication tools with new applications. Eileen O'Connell, regional sales director of BT Conferencing, says the key drivers for companies deploying web conferencing are convenience, effectiveness and concern about the environment. 'Web conferencing fits somewhere between audio and video conferencing, and now offers integration to audio and desktop video capabilities to enhance the meeting experience,' she says. 'Five years ago, the expectations of conferencing tools were much lower, but we've seen great improvements in all aspects, [and] that has driven up usage.' Her view is shared by David Hooper, information worker business group leader for Microsoft Hong Kong. 'In the past, most customers would focus on reliability and quality, but now they tend to be more concerned about usability,' he says. Hooper says most customers use web conferencing primarily for internal collaboration to help daily business operations. 'We are seeing a trend heading towards different business areas such as sales and marketing, business partner communications and internal training,' he adds. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices such as the iPhone, Blackberry, Android-based smartphones and the iPad in the workplace, web conferencing providers are now offering support for mobile communications and collaboration. With the growing use of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, providers are also offering integration with social networks to change the way employees interact with colleagues and customers. 'What is crucial is simple and easy integration of the capabilities across all the different collaboration mediums that are available to end-users,' O'Connell says, 'When collaboration becomes very simple and easy, without having to demolish and replace existing infrastructure to fit with a single brand supplier, customers will get the maximum benefits.'