The New Face of Video Conferencing
By Kiernan Manion
Video conferencing (VC) is a useful resource for conducting business face-to-face on both a global and local scale. For small businesses, this technology streamlines communication; delivers information and resources and manages many business aspects. Traditional conferencing has transitioned from phone to screen as a smooth, integrated part of Internet communications worldwide.
Since the 1980s, larger businesses have primarily relied on video conferencing as a way to reduce travel costs, while maintaining the convenience of face-to-face interactions. This technology was limited in its implementation and was not widely adopted by small businesses. Today’s VC technology utilizes refurbished network infrastructures that provide low-cost data services with higher-speed capabilities. Small businesses can now harness the power of VC without heavy financial or technological limitations.
However, the video conferencing (also referred to as telepresence) industry has limited its own growth and acceptance in small businesses. Many VC systems are complex and expensive to deploy, use and manage. Therefore, it is up to small business professionals to research the technology, explore the real advantages and determine how it can help their business grow and prosper.
Advantages of Video Conferencing
In 2013, Wainhouse Research (WR) and Polycom jointly conducted a survey to explore the benefits of using video conferencing. Results from over 4,700 respondents offered valuable insights into how organizations are using VC in the new age of business.
Notable results found that travel reduction is no longer the primary side-effect of video conferencing. The ideal benefit towards VC for small businesses was found to be increased efficiency and productivity, followed by increased impact of discussions and expedited decision-making.
This data proved that video conferencing strengthens a business from the inside out. Other key advantages of using video conferencing include:
These are just a few of the core benefits towards using video conferencing. Taking the steps to establishing VC in your business is not as difficult as you might think.
How to Utilize Video Conferencing in Your Business:
Many small businesses can’t afford a space-age setup typically pushed by most big-name telepresence companies. Fortunately, that is not necessary to utilize the power of video conferencing. Small businesses are less concerned with the Fortune 500 rat race of who spent the most money. They are more concerned with practical, useful pieces of technology that will drive their business towards success.
There are Several Low-Cost, Effective Options to Bring Video Conferencing to Small Businesses
- Do-It-Yourself video conference setups, which work with existing TV, computers and phone systems. These kits add new networking and software and are fully-customizable. Most setups use existing equipment: a microphone, webcam, speakers and high-speed internet connection, which are all common in most modern desktops, tablets, laptops and smartphones.
- Video conferencing platforms based on software, rather than hardware, can go a long way towards simplifying the user experience. GoToMeeting offers a very simple video conferencing function, only requiring an account, a computer with a webcam, and reliable internet connection. Non-users can still attend meetings, webinars and classes by downloading the program, installing it, and following the instructions. Blue Jeans and LifeSize offer similar VC services without much of an increase in added cost, depending on the desired capabilities.
Some Other Things to Consider
Sometimes, a full on premise video conference is sometimes not as crucial as the ability to send, retrieve, update and review documents on-the-go. Several video conferencing apps, email, document and business apps have been developed to fill this void. Fuze, Google Docs/Hangouts, FaceTime and Skype all present popular, capable apps using various smartphones and tablets with different types of software, video and network setups.
Traditional tools like email, phone and face-to-face meetings are still the most common ways for businesses to communicate and collaborate. Nonetheless, in a business world now defined by a disparate workforce, today’s business owners would be wise to implement next-generation collaboration tools that help drive productivity.
Not many people anticipated the huge rise in technology with smart phones and the increase in Internet accessibility and capabilities. Just like cell phones are no longer just for talking, video conferencing is no longer just a travel business replacement. The advantages for video conferencing are rising and visual communication is more cost-effective and accessible than ever before.
Video Conferencing Is Much More Than Just Talking Face to Face
- You can look over and manipulate documents, conduct online banking, order products, and reach new business opportunities on a global scale.
- VC is proven to establish high levels of engagement, increase productivity, reach new business partners/opportunities/product lines and customers, and provide an edge over the competition.
The strategic use of video conferencing can help small businesses reduce costs, increase sales, jumpstart customer engagement, attract new clients and change the way products and services are delivered. These real-world benefits and business opportunities are too valuable to ignore. Get started today!
For more information about implementing video conferencing into your business, visit these useful links: