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Is video conferencing helpful for businesses?

Can you save time and money? I have been using video conferencing, but I guess I want to know what you think of it.

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12

Absolutely! When used properly, this method of communication is fantastic for building business relationships both within the company (if you have offsite workers) and with customers/clients. Treat a video conference just like a normal in-person meeting: dress appropriately, be conscious of what the camera is and isn't picking up at all times, and make sure that you know how to use the video conferencing software/interface like a pro--enough to help others in the meeting if they have audio/visual problems, too.

8

We have used Skype video to include a missing member in a face-to-face meeting, and it has worked fine. She could even see what others were writing on the white board.

But for regular meetings among dispersed professionals, we are much more likely to use a screen sharing service. I find looking at each other's mug shots twitching on the monitor is completely distracting, and unnecessary. And I cannot believe how unattractive people are--including myself--when photographed with a pinhole camera. Since nobody looks right at the camera, we all look downcast, squinty, or shifty-eyed. I quickly avert my eyes.

Much better to have voice contact, then share whatever docs we want via screen sharing. Started out using expensive ones like WebEx or GoToMeeting, but have switched to ones that cost about $20 per month, like StartMeeting. The person running the meeting can switch control of screen sharing to whomever needs to share docs next.

I'm describing meetings with people I already know. If I'm connecting with somebody for the first time, e.g., a marketing contact, then face-to-face via video is definitely worthwhile to establish eye contact and size each other up. But after that, all we want to do is share docs and hear each other talk.

And of course we use plain old conference calls for 80% of remote group meetings.

(Haven't yet used Google Hangouts, but the same concerns would control.)

Mike, I have also use Skype but I have found that all of the information is not private as most people think it is. I have consulted with companies that use this and I am shocked that they give that much power to a free service. Some of the discussions should be private. What if there was a conference room that could do that, a private meeting with a password. What if you could have the sharing capabilities to share not only files, but video, music? + much more. What if it was the same cost + more value?

7

Hi Preston,

Video Conferencing is a great tool that I use it everyday! At my office we might have only 3 or 4 appointments at most on a given day, and instead of having someone at the receptionist desk, we set up a monitor and I video conference in from my desk in the marketing department. It's a huge money saver as we don't have enough reason to hire another person aside from just sitting at the front desk, but now we always have the ability to greet a guest. Also, our partners and clients who come in think it's an absolutely amazing display of technology!

We use video conferencing to keep meetings with other employees who work from home, conference others in for meetings so they can see the whiteboards, and Skype clients so they can speak to us face to face. Selling VoIP, Surveillance, and Video Conferencing equipment can come with quite a price tag, and a few of our customers have taken advantage of the reassurance video conferencing provides that we're not a webstore running out of someone's basement.

There are several positive answers from others on your question, and if anyone has other inquiries, this might help out: http://www.voipsupply.com/video-conferencing. It's our landing page for Video Conferencing with links to short articles our Video Conferencing Consultant, Andria Baunee, has written regarding knowledge base, buying advice, and tips and tricks.

Hope this helps!

6

I think video conferencing is an excellent tool when used correctly. When marketing technology we tend to forget that a very important communication tool still interacting face-to-face with our customers. Unfortunately this isn't always an option, so a substitute like video conferencing is always a wonderful solution.

I've worked at a few companies that have always integrated video communication whether it was with customers or remote employees. This helped bring together the team or the customer and made the end result much more successful.

--

Sarah
http://www.gobee.com.au/

Yes, since I am not in the USA as much as before, meeting online works just as well and I don't have to travel and waste gas or time. All I do is hop on the computer where-ever I am at, connect to a broadband connection and then have my meeting. _ I love it and the best part is I can afford that small price of it. The other video conference systems I have seen are way too expensive for a small business like mine.

5

When I worked for Cisco Systems we used group conferencing everyday and it was great. However, one-on-one video conferencing was extremely rare. Most people seemed very comfortable with voice conferencing for small/non-executive meetings.

Cisco Systems rock. I enjoyed their unified communications systems which deliver a high end results for high end clients.

another vote for Cisco ... can't go wrong with their system.

What if you get that "high end" system for a lot less then most people pay for it? I know most of the Cisco systems are for the larger business, what if i had a technology that you can get all this conference system plus a lot more for less?

5

Video conferencing is an excellent management tool if carefully controlled. Specific agenda items should be provided to all participants in advance and followed. The number of participants should be limited to those persons who have direct responsibility for the subject(s) being discussed.

Agreed, Bob. Critical in macro environments. Micros can use a quasi solution incorporating best practices at the outset.

Yes, agendas are always a good thing. I know with my system we can have up to 12 people - soon to expand on video at one time so collaboration is quite easy, with desktop share, files, and more. White board is valuable for all.

5

Every video conferencing that I've been to ... every single one of them since 2002 (at many different locations, offices, clients large and small)... we always had to spend at least 20 minutes just to trouble shoot. Either troubleshoot the technology, or troubleshoot the users and help them get a hang of it.
In theory, yes, it's great. But in practice, it takes too much time to set up and get going ... at least in my experience.

Oh yes, this is such a problem! There's always at least one who can't download the needed widget, or who's calling from their cell with a noisy connection. This impacts both video conferencing and screen sharing.

And the absolute worst to get connected with if you're not familiar with it is Google. Who's invited, who has permission to view or share? Where's the phantom "administrator" who has to approve this? And zero help.

Now see, I use Google+ Hangouts for private group meetings as well as a livestreamed show. I don't have a problem with it. In fact I was an early adopter so I've weathered through the changes and upgrades in service. It really isn't that difficult to navigate.

What if you don't need the participants to download anything to their computers, what if you can send them a link and they can come online where ever they are. What if you can meet face to face with 12 people at once, what if you could have unlimited number of people in your conference room, what if you could have 140 languages translated with 1/2 second delay? What if you could have a portal of online tools +20 that could help with your business operations and it would not cost your cent, unless you want?

5

I use video conferencing everyday. All my staff are home based employees and being able to chat with individuals and as a group and explain new strategies has save me a lot of money. With all technology there are a few challenges, I find 90% of the time it is something simply.

Curious what platform do you use? We should connect soon.

Hi Preston we use skype as our main platform, but next year we will be using our own, after a few months of trial. Our biggest challenges is limited mobile access around Australia and switching between carriers for different states, I will send you an invite when the platform is in action if you would like.

5

While there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings, video conferencing puts a voice to a face and allows a stronger relationship to be built. It also becomes extremely useful with software such as Cisco's Webex, where desktops can be shared for demonstration purposes. Just keep in mind that meeting members can take a screen shot of or record anything you share!

Carl- you are right face to face is the best- too bad we don't have technology like that of star-trek where we say "beam me up" and we are there. It is coming but I think further in the future. What if you could use a system that would not be as costly as Webex and have all these benefits and more? What if?

Anonymous User
5

Video conferencing has been the next big thing for the last 20 years, however, I think we are finally starting to see mass adoption.

Video calls can be as simple as a Skype call from your Smartphone or computer and as complex as an immersive experience where you have several screens and cameras to maximize eye contact.

The really simple calls are starting to displace some phone calls and the complex ones are avoiding some travel. We will always have phone calls and business travel but in many situations you can have a more productive meeting if video is enabled.

A trend I see is mixing the simple and complex calls where some executives in NY and London are reviewing the company strategy and then need to reach out to a mobile user using Facetime or Skype to consult on a specific matter.

In today's globalized world, the companies that use video have better communications (non-verbal cues are a high percentage of the message we transmit), make decisions faster (no need to meet in HQ to get approval from your boss) and have a happier workforce (less travel and better work-life balance if working from home is allowed).

However, although the technology enables a company to obtain these benefits, the most critical part is making sure the technology is embraced by the company, from the board to the intern that has just joined some days ago.

Disclaimer: I work in the video conferencing industry.

Yes, you can have it all. What if in this conference system you could use your phone instead of being attached to your desktop, you can actually be in a conference meeting using your phone and you can get 140 different languages translated during that conference with 1/2 second delay, could that create world wide or global reach. What if you could have over 20+ online tools that would help you manage every contact you have now or into the future plus give you time and it would not cost you a cent?

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