Video conferencing is the name given to a process whereby a conference can be held, via a remote link that allows the involved parties to see and hear each other despite the fact that they are in separate physical locations.
The main reasons for companies to use video conferencing is to gain a more effective and engaging method of communicating, without the need to travel and meet in person. It is a very simple and cost effective method for internal and external communication with a large number of specific use cases, from regular national/regional/global sales meetings to the medical industry for remote doctor/patient interaction.
Video conferencing solutions can have an onsite setup with equipment in the boardrooms and meeting rooms. Lately, many video solutions are cloud based with minimal hardware that needs to be deployed onsite. This makes the solution cost effective, scalable and portable.
Advantages of video conferencing
One of the key advantages of video conferencing over other types of online conference is the fact that all parties can actually see each other. This is very useful for several different reasons:
- Much more personal environment that facilitates discussion
- being able to see each other whilst taking part in a conference makes it almost feel like you are meeting in person and this inspires everyone to contribute, more so than would be the case with an audio only conference.
- Better communication possibilities
- Only a very small part of communication is done with speech and a far greater amount is done through hand gestures and other forms. For this reason, video conferencing is very important when there are important points to be discussed and can often be a far more effective way of communicating in numbers than other forms of online interaction.
- The ability to use visual aids
- the other advantage of video conferencing is that visual aids can be used. This could involve a PowerPoint presentation or computer screen being shown to the attendees of the conference or it could be that a product needs to be displayed and analysed during the conference. These things are nearly impossible without a live video feed.
Disadvantages of video conferencing
Despite the fact that video conferencing is hugely beneficial in some circumstances there are also a couple of disadvantages and for that reason it isn’t always the best means of communication but needs to be chosen based on the specific requirements of the conference.
- Specific requirements – with video conferencing there are more requirements than with other forms of conference – for example each attendee needs to be in front of a computer or at least some device with a video display – otherwise they would not benefit from the video conference.
- Bandwidth requirements – video conferencing can be quite demanding due to the fact that there is a lot of data to transfer – video tends to use a lot more bandwidth than just audio for example. This means that attendees need to have a reasonably fast and stable internet connection in order to benefit from the video conference.
- Cost of setup – depending on the number of people that need to attend the video conference the setup costs can be quite substantial to the company that are setting up the conference – this is especially relevant if there are some locations where multiple participants need to attend the video conference.
- Some Video rooms are setup by a particular vendor that does not allow communication with other types of video equipment. This problem is a common and large problem but has lately been addressed by providers who offer interconnectivity and interoperability. This ensures that a various number of end points can connect to the same video meeting.
- End user experience
- A common complaint and lack of utilisation of the video equipment can be attributed to the fact that it is sometimes hard to setup and needs IT support. This often deters the end user from instigating a video meeting.
- Many solutions exist nowadays that provide an extremely easy way to connect, which needs very little training or explanation and is hence greatly adopted by all business units.
In summary, there are many video conferencing providers and solutions. It is important to choose the right vendor and product based on the specific needs and budget of the business. Training, deployment, ease of use and change management are all very important aspects in rolling out a video conferencing solution, in order to gain the best ROI and to have the rewarding end user experience.