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.

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