January 26, 2016
Next-generation videoconferencing is a technology all of us have expected to come into popularity for some time. In 1876, soon after the telephone was invented and patented, artists and novelists began creating renditions of a videophone. Though at the time this fictional technology went by a number of names, we would now recognize them as rudimentary versions of the sophisticated next-generation videoconferencing technology used by companies of all sizes.
Yet, many companies have been hesitant to implement such technology in their organization. It can be seen as a luxury or non-essential, but it can bring great value to an organization if used effectively.
Next-Generation Videoconferencing and Value
- Reduced Travel Costs: First and foremost, next-generation videoconferencing and telepresence technology can drastically reduce the travel expenses of an organization. If two coworkers on opposite ends of the country can use a product like Cisco Spark to share files, chat, and seamlessly transition into a video call, they can achieve virtually the same experience as collaborating in person. There’s no longer a need to travel from coast to coast or, on a smaller scale, from branch to branch.
- Better Communication: People tend to communicate more clearly in person when body language, tone, and context can fill in the information between the lines of the words being spoken. It greatly reduces the potential for miscommunication by offering the opportunity for real-time clarification of ideas. This is just impossible in email and other forms of asynchronous communication. With better communication comes a faster exchange of ideas and increased productivity.
- Video Archive: The ability to record meetings creates several key opportunities for an organization. First, a recorded meeting can serve as a reference document if questions come up later in the project. Plus, it can also keep coworkers up to speed if they cannot attend a meeting in person. In a long project where meetings occur regularly, this can prevent a team member from being left behind when schedules conflict.But, the use of recorded meetings can be applied much more broadly. For example, a video archive of training materials can be assembled and used to develop new talent during an on-boarding process. Alternatively, these videos can be analyzed to find improvements in sales skills or meeting management.
- Customer Service: The face of the customer is changing. Today, customers seek out alternative methods of contacting their favorite brands, and they expect to receive the same levels of customer service regardless of medium. Next-generation videoconferencing provides another avenue of communication. Beyond that, video provides the opportunity to put a face to the brand and interact on a human level.
Considerations When Selecting a Next-Generation Videoconferencing Solution
Though videoconferencing can drive positive change in the way a company communicates with itself and its customers, there are caveats. Not all collaboration solutions are made equally. When implementing videoconferencing in your organization, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Video Quality: High definition video is ubiquitous today. It’s available on most smartphones, televisions, computer screens, and tablets. Standard definition, by contrast, looks antiquated to the modern eye, so make sure the videoconference solution projects acceptable video levels.This is even more important for business-to-customer applications. Customers will notice it immediately, and it will impact their impression of the brand. However, poor video quality and lag will also frustrate internal uses by actually impeding communication between coworkers.
- Device: Up until now in this blog, we have discussed videoconferencing in the abstract. The truth is that videoconferencing can be achieved through a wide range of devices. For example, Cisco offers products small enough to fit on a desk—like the DX650 which is an IP phone with a 7-inch touchscreen—or large enough to comprise an entire room—like the MX800 with its two 70-inch LED televisions. It is important to plan the specific intended uses before anything else. The use will dictate the device.
- Supporting Software: Videoconferencing is an excellent way to improve communication in a company, but it should be one facet of a larger collaboration strategy. When looking into videoconferencing solutions, don’t neglect synergistic software like Cisco Jabber and Cisco Spark. The two applications enhance the videoconference experience and provide the workforce the option to collaborate in the way that is most convenient for the task at hand.
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