The Importance of Video Conferencing - and How To Get It
Video conferencing has been affordable for companies large and small for many years, yet many businesses have not wholeheartedly adopted collaboration by video. Though it is estimated that 64% of companies already use video conferencing for meetings, many operations skip video collaboration altogether, despite the rapid growth in the number of people working from home, including in the UK.
If your company relies solely on phone calls, IM and emails to communicate, it is worth taking a step back and considering the benefits of video conferencing. Keep reading as we outline the benefits of video conferencing, and the video collaboration options available for your business.
Why video conferencing is such an important tool
Home working, at least on select days, is a modern-day reality for business. Furthermore, the effects of networked IT services continue to imply that both customers and vendors will interact without face to face contact. However, completely avoiding face to face contact has its drawbacks. Here’s how video conferencing can provide a middle ground:
- More engaging communications. Without a doubt, video conferencing is a more engaging way to communicate, compared to text or audio-only. Video conferencing delivers a greater level of closeness throughout the conversation, in comparison to audio, which can still leave two participants feeling like strangers. The implications for employee relationships and team cohesion are significant.
- Cost savings. Business travel is still common due to the need for face to face conversations. Video conferencing, while not quite the same as a face to face meeting, can provide a strong alternative. As a result, business travel is less essential, with the associated savings. The fact that video bridges the gap between in-person and other communications so well also reduces the need for workers to attend offices and, by extension, the cost of office space.
- High productivity. Advanced video conferencing tools are incredibly powerful and even entry-level tools include facilities such as screen and document sharing. A good video collaboration package can closely simulate a working office environment and can often integrate with your existing collaboration software. Simply put, a video collaboration suite can help your team do more, faster – whether it is planning a marketing campaign or consulting with an IT services provider.
Despite the obvious advantages, the adoption of video conferencing is often held back by a perception that it requires a lot of money, technical know-how and access to advanced IT services. However, video conferencing can be simple or complicated, depending on the needs of your business.
Your options for corporate video conferencing
Video conferencing is available to every business, free of charge via bundled apps. That said, free apps do not deliver all the potential benefits of video collaboration. A more advanced solution may require higher expenditure and involve the services of a managed IT support provider, but there will be a payoff. Broadly speaking, these are your options:
Your mobile phone is capable of video collaboration out of the box, albeit with basic features. Nonetheless, where it is only the odd remote worker that you need to communicate with, switching video on as standard practice can already introduce benefits.
Dial up the benefits by using the free edition of Skype on your PC, which enables live desktop and document sharing.
We mention Office 365 as it is so widely adopted. Plus Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business is included in business and enterprise subscriptions. Office 365 tools add more advanced collaboration abilities, including the ability to access corporate documents plus presence information and access to company directories. Video collaboration is a vastly underutilised Office 365 feature and it is advanced enough to push past desktops and into meeting rooms.
Dedicated video solutions
Some businesses can benefit enormously from very advanced video conferencing, especially with large teams crossing borders and time zones. Solutions powered by everyone from the giants of telecoms (Cisco, Avaya) through to startups (Powwow or Highfive) offer advanced features such as attendee management and telepresence, all of which makes intensive video collaboration a far slicker experience.
Choosing a solution
Deciding on the video collaboration option that best fits your requirements requires consideration of costs and benefits. The size of your team is also a factor and, of course, how many team members you currently have working off-site. There will almost always be some need for video collaboration, but if your business requirements are low, you could stick to free solutions, or opt for the applications bundled with your productivity software.
That said, your managed IT support provider can find benefits for video conferencing in your use-case which are not immediately obvious. It is always worth conducting a conversation with an IT services provider that has in-depth knowledge of video collaboration software to see where your business may be missing out on the productivity advances and cost savings that video collaboration offers.