How Leading Companies Use Video Conferencing to Boldly Go Where They Haven’t Gone Before
With businesses becoming global, newer connectivity tools are increasingly being used to keep teams connected with one another. Video Conferencing has slowly and steadily earned its place amongst new online collaborative technology.
According to PC Mag, Video conferencing has been recognized among the top 5 collaborative trends for the year 2016. An Information Week analyst predicated in 2011 that 75% of enterprises will switch to video conferencing by 2013.
This shows that video conferencing is a trend here to stay.
Enterprises which aren’t utilizing video conferencing or using it to a limited extent are actually missing out on opportunities to connect with customers, vendors and partners on their preferred channel of communication and losing them to their rivals.
In this article, you will learn about 1) the major reasons to use video conferencing for business communication, 2) types of video conferencing, 3) what use cases are benefiting from video conferencing, and 4) things to consider before implementing video conference services in your business.
Top 6 Reasons to Use video conferencing for Business Communication
Given below are top six advantages of replacing one’s old business communication method with video conferencing:
#1 Reduction in Travel Distances
This is the prime factor that tips the scale in favor of video conferencing. It reduces the logistics, time, and human energy involved in frequent traveling to remote business locations. Partners, team members, customers can be briefed, negotiated with, taken into confidence easily through this tool. Video conferencing is also a way to lower the company’s carbon footprint.
#2 Cost Efficiency
Global recession and budget cuts have increased the need for austerity measures and effective resource allocation. Hence, businesses are able to cut costs like airfare, hotels and per diem expenses and have greater Return on Investment (ROI) through using videoconferencing. Moreover, according to a survey by On24, a webcasting and virtual event provider, virtual training sessions are favored by 88% of executives as they are cost efficient.
Organizing meetings and setting up of logistics in a physical conference room can be a huge hassle in terms of human energy and resources. In contrast, video conferencing tools allow organizers to set up a virtual conference room with lesser logistical resources and in lesser amount of time. Video conferencing also allows people located in different time zones to connect and collaborate easily. Likewise, telecommuting is convenient for employees and employer both.
#4 Improved Productivity
Video conferencing allows people to connect and collaborate irrespective of their geographic placement and time zone; hence, it improves productivity. According to a Frost & Sullivan white paper, the ROI concept goes beyond tangible benefits like saving of money and takes into account the soft benefits like increased productivity, shortening of business processing and cycles and swift decision-making. According to the Polycom survey, 94% of the respondents laud video conferencing for its efficiency and productivity enhancement potential. It allows distributed teams the ability to work together synergistically for a common business goal. Likewise, video conferencing allows businesses to stay connected and continue during unforeseen circumstances like law and order situation, bad weather, flight delays, etc.
#5 Easier Cross Connectivity
Last but not the least, with the advent of mobile technology, video conferencing has the unique capability to cross connect and seamlessly integrate different devices, such as desktops, tablets, or Android devices. It also seamlessly integrates different platforms such as Windows and OS X. This leads to a unified communication platform. The ability to connect from anywhere and through anything means that no one will face exclusion or isolation because of the incompatibility of devices, environment, or platform.
#6 Giving Technology a Human Face
In today’s world, success depends upon the ability of the business to build and nurture relationships with their employees, partners, vendors, and customers. Video Conferencing technology gives users the unique advantage to not only see one another but interpret facial expressions, body language and gestures through high-definition, life-sized images.
Read on and learn about further reasons to use video conferencing for your business.
TYPES OF VIDEO CONFERENCING
With advancement of technology, video conferencing options have grown as well. These options depend upon the users’ individual needs, the scope of collaboration and budget.
Room Video Collaboration System
It’s a room video collaboration system that revolves around the needs of multiple users remotely collaborating in a huddled space or a medium sized conference room, boardroom or auditorium. The powerful camera gives a 360 degrees bird’s eye view of the entire conference room, track individual users in the room and zoom in on them. It contains features like viewable and clickable calendar events, content sharing and collaboration, IM, HD video clarity, allow joining in of users through drag and drop function.
Executive Desktop Video Collaboration System
Executive desktop video collaboration systems are all-in-one video phones with built-in, integrated cameras with microphones and speakers that can also act as PC monitors. These units are placed at office desktops and are low priced. These systems allow easy and high quality content sharing. This collaboration system is suitable for remote team members and locations due to its ability to operate on lower bandwidth.
Desktop Video Conferencing
Equipped with microphone and web camera, it’s the most basic type of webcam, which is suitable for personal use. It allows two people to connect with each other, at any time, from their desk tops. It runs on a broadband network and is available at a fairly low cost.
The telepresence technology represents the most revolutionized form of visual communications. It creates an immersive, lifelike communication experience for teams working together virtually. A high-resolution illusion of a conference room is created where the participants at the other end of the video conference call appear to be present in the same conference room, sitting across the table.
WHICH USE CASES ARE BENEFITING FROM VIDEO CONFERENCING?
Video conferencing has made forays into various different industries and departments with technological advancement. Following are a few examples of use cases utilizing video conferencing for better productivity, efficiency, and austerity:
Sales and Marketing
In today’s competitive world, sales and marketing teams face the most pressure in terms of attracting and retaining new customers and tapping into newer markets while keeping the cost to the minimum. Video conferencing enables marketers to develop and relay targeted campaigns to a specific market at a fraction of the cost. Likewise, video conferencing enables sales people to make cold calls to existing and potential customers, pursue newer leads at lower costs, and maintain and deepen relationships. One of Frost & Sullivan’s whitepaper elaborates how video conferencing technology can be used to ‘cross-sell’ and ‘up-sell’ to potential customers.
The ability to telecommute allows more people to join the workforce and contribute productively to it. Sean Mallon, a Smart Data Collective contributor says that one out of five Americans have worked from home at some point in their careers, with a 13.5 % increase in their productivity. With video conferencing trend on the rise, this number is supposed to increase. Video conferencing lessens the feeling of isolation that remote team members may feel in a globally distributed work network. Video conferencing can be effectively used to provide frequent or on-demand support, timely interventions; thus, it increases retention. It allows enterprises to retain valuable employees and reduce turnover.
Video conferencing enables trainers and learners to connect with global teaching and learning opportunities through virtual classes, which they couldn’t have accessed otherwise. It enables them to upgrade their skills constantly through on-job training via the distance learning mode. On the other hand, video conferencing has allowed educational campuses facing budget cuts to save costs and extend their reach globally through offering virtual classes. For instance, University of North Carolina and Highworth Grammar School are using Moodle with its video conference features to combat budget cuts and save up to 52% costs. Video conferencing has also enabled research collaborations to take place among faculty members of different universities situated at far ends of the globe.
The legal industry is using video conferencing facility to serve remote depositions, expedite the judicial process, and brief legal teams and partners. Jones Walker is an example of a firm, which has 17 offices across 8 states and 375 lawyers on board. The firm uses teleconferencing to hold group meetings on daily basis and conserve assets and time. AdventBalance, another law firm has been using video conferencing for sharing of information. It allows them to orient their lawyers with processes and systems without requiring them to come to the office.
HR & Recruiting
Video conferencing tools can also be used by a company’s HR to interview potential candidates and also take into account minute but important details like their body language, facial expression and ability to maintain eye contact. It also allows a firm to bring onboard freelancers, consultants and experts from various locations for remote collaborative ventures. Thus, video conferencing technology enables an enterprise to locate the best human resource and talent for its teams from around the globe. Microsoft is a leading company utilizing teleconferencing for global talent hunting.
Team Building Measures
Globally distributed businesses have to deal with not only geographical distances but also lingual and cultural barriers. Nina Parker, the managing director of IVCI, feels that video conferencing promotes a sense of ‘community’ amongst geographically dispersed team members. Engaging and interactive meetings are used to connect with cross-functional teams, partners, collaborators and vendors at a short notice through video conferencing, irrespective of the geographic distance. Useful information is shared, intensive brainstorming sessions are held with multiple team members, problems are averted, conflicts are resolved and crucial decisions are taken in lesser amount of time.
Customer Briefing Centers
Interactivity often makes a critical difference to a business’s success. Customers and partners may often require frequent and timely briefs and updates regarding the status of a project or details about a new service or product. For instance, PC Connection, a New Hampshire based information technology company uses a virtual Customer briefing Center to interact with the customers about products and services. Video conferencing technology allows an enterprise to learn the evolving needs, expectations and changing requirements of customers and partners and brief them accordingly.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE IMPLEMENTING VIDEO CONFERENCING
There are multiple video conferencing tools available from the most basic to advanced level based on the users’ needs and budget. If you consider investing in a video conferencing tool for your enterprise, you should consider their suitability on the following factors:
Enterprise level safety and security of business data and information is a major area of concern in utilization of any channel of communication. Users feel confident in knowing that their information is protected through access control and surveillance parameters and through data encryption during a video conferencing session. Therefore, one should opt for video conferencing solutions that have security certifications like SOC-II, FIPS 140-2 and US/EU Safe Harbor compliance.
Accessibility & Usability Ease
The success of any business software depends upon how accessible, scalable, simplistic in design and functional it is for the users. Administrators should make video conferencing tools easy to access for teams by placing them in dedicated rooms or on personal desktops and even mobile phones. In order to make video conferencing truly popular and workable in one’s enterprise, it should be widely available and not a prerogative of a select and privileged few, like the executives and CEOs. Booking schedules should be flexible and cheap or even free. Users can be encouraged to switch to the video conferencing alternative through orientation about its benefits and asking core users to lead the initiative and champion its cause. Meanwhile, training, orientation and support should be readily available.
Evolution of technology has allowed video conferencing solutions to become cost effective as well. Entry-level solutions range as low as $8 to $40 a month. Free trials are offered as well by few video conferencing firms, which can help an enterprise gauge the software’s suitability for its needs without investing a lot of money into it beforehand. The video conferencing solution should be scalable to growing needs of an organization without incurring high costs.
Updating and Maintaining Video Conferencing Equipment
Video conferencing equipment and peripherals should be maintained regularly and updated or upgraded as per need. Compatibility across platforms should be ensured. Likewise, internet connection should be reliable and bandwidth should be broad enough. Frequent breakdowns or bottlenecks can be frustrating and bring down productivity. They may also deter people from using the technology and let them revert to the old methods.
Studying Feasibility before Implementation
Before deciding to replace the old methods of communication for video conferencing, an enterprise should have a feasibility plan. It should comprise the following areas: assessment of types and frequency of interaction; frequency of traveling and distances; time, human, material resources and cost incurred during traveling; potential ROI arising from switching to video conferencing. Stakeholders, IT department and users must be taken into confidence before such a move.
Being Realistic and Optimistic In Terms of Expectations
One must have realistic expectations from the video conferencing tool. It is technology’s evolving frontier but has its limitations. It can’t replace traveling altogether, or replicate the human touch in its entirety. JISC’s videoconferencing guide advises: “Accept that videoconferencing won’t replace all face-to-face meetings and travel. Be prepared to look at new ways to enable amplified and hybrid events.”
Last but not the least, it’s true that videoconferencing can’t replace a firm handshake or the warmth of a cup of tea taken together. Yet it lessens geographic distances, brings people together, allows them to communicate and collaborate for shared goals productively. Companies around the globe are becoming cognizant of the fact that opting for videoconferencing as a mode of communication is not just a way to reduce costs but also a way for them to do business communication in a better way.
Thus, videoconferencing is a technology, which is shaping the way business communication is done and is a trend that is here to stay.