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.
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.)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.