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Making a case for video conferencing

Randel Maestre | Oct. 28, 2010
It is a viable business solution that enables people to see each other clearly and collaborate more effectively.

Over the last 10 years, video conferencing has moved from being important to being essential to being mission-critical for businesses worldwide. The reset economy has been a driver of our technology, with the priorities of organisations shifting from a focus on cost reduction alone, to facing the challenge of recovering from the global economic slowdown and getting ahead of competitors.  

In this environment, video conferencing has become a very smart choice. Its a viable business solution that enables people to see each other clearly and collaborate more effectively by sharing information and content instantly across distances.

Yet there remains a segment of companies hesitant about investing in a video conferencing solution. This is often due to concerns around potential costs, bandwidth requirements and interoperability of video conferencing solutions.

A big hurdle

One of the biggest hurdles is the misconception that video conferencing is expensive. In fact, most organisations can cost-justify a system relatively easily, with a complete return on investment (ROI) within six to 24 months. In some cases, the cost savings of a one-week long business trip can be enough to justify an investment in a video conferencing solution.

It is also important, however, to consider other cost savings beyond travel. What is the financial impact associated with accelerating time to market for new products? What is the impact on revenue by hiring and on-boarding new employees more quickly? What is the value of office space that can be reduced via tele-work initiatives?  Adding these savings to the ROI equation will help make that video conferencing investment even more compelling.

Small and medium businesses (SMBs), which often have less investment capital available, can also look to service providers for monthly-fee or daily-use rental and managed service offerings. Financing plans such as leasing also minimise upfront capital outlay requirements and provide a more affordable monthly payment schedule.  

Gone are the days of requiring multiple megabits for high definition video calls. Video compression technology has developed rapidly, allowing enterprises to enjoy high quality video conferencing without having to use up excessive bandwidth.

Becoming ubiquitous

Video conferencing is becoming ubiquitous and transforming the ways people learn, live, and work. Yet companies too often use collaboration tools simply for project meetings or status updates. Real value is seen when the technology becomes a part of the business process.

Desktop and PC-based video conferencing are becoming the norm for connecting with employees or global suppliers especially as UC vendors such as Microsoft and IBM begin integrating video conferencing into their overall UC strategies.  

Video conferencing kiosks will bring remote expertise to hotels, retail stores, bank branches and other customer service-oriented locations. A number of mobile devices including mobile phones, pad computers, wearable video systems are already being used in operational applications such as remote repair and remote inspection. HR and corporate training teams can expand reach, meet over video and record interviews / classes for viewing on demand.

 

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