Video conferencing was once regarded as a technology reserved only for larger businesses. For a start, it often required a dedicated room and costly equipment. It was additionally often unreliable and the entire set-up rigid, with limited flexibilty and few opportunities for spontaneity.
The availability of quick, cheap broadband has considerably contributed to changing this situation. This, along with Skype, has transformed the entire experience and now business of any sizes can hold a virtual meeting at any time.
Since the simplicity of the technology, it doesn’t require an necessary conference to justify its use any more. Quick one-to-one conversations could be held in this manner too.
However, what many small businesses have yet to consider is that utilising video can now actually bring monetary benefits, particularly for those where staff are likely to work from home or on the road. According to the Office of National Statistics, half of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020.
But regardless of the numerous advantages of doing so, the primary disadvantage of working away from the workplace is the lack of human interaction.
For example, members of the sales team could also be speaking on the phone all day, but they nonetheless miss out on the following layer of alerts and body language which might provide a higher degree of perception into customers. Also, collaboration within teams can also be harder without meeting face-to-face.
Researchers have proven that we use 21 various kinds of facial features when speaking to others. Being in a position to pick up on nuances of mood and meaning may result in tighter teams and more empathetic customer relationships.
As a consequence, many organisations still insist on frequent team or company meetings. However, when workers are situated throughout the country, paying travelling bills can prove expensive. The solution might be to switch a few of the meetings with a video conference.
However, it is nonetheless essential that SMEs consider exactly what they wish to obtain before implementing a video conferencing system. Will it need to contain a number of individuals on calls in a single room or deal with more distant requirements? It’s wise remembering that good Wi-Fi is now important.
Which software should I go for?
Skype for Business is a popular choice for SMEs, however video conferencing applications embedded in a VoIP bundle must also be thought of. Skype has many benefits, not least that it is tightly built-in with Microsoft Office applications, so customers can share files and make presentations on the call.
But whereas it may be ideally suited for internal calls, its reliability during external meetings is commonly questioned.
However, a business deciding to inceasingly make use of video might also see this as an opportunity to move completely to VoIP. Hosted providers can typically supply a bundle deal inclusive of a big volume of calls and IP to IP calls are sometimes made free of any cost.
VoIP adoption additionally stops the necessity for conventional telephone infrastructure so there are not any long-term hardware lease or maintenance costs. Researc1hers at IDC have estimated that a VoIP system can deliver a 30 per cent decrease in telephone-related expenses.
So, it appears that evidently including Skype for Business or one other application within a VoIP bundle might probably be the most economic choice for a small businesses.
Regardless of the choice, it needs to be simple and fast enough to develop into a part of everyday communication. From needing a room of its own, the technology has turned a full circle. It now signifies that, for some small businesses, a physical office base shouldn’t be always mandatory.