The 40 hour work week is a thing of the past, telecommuting is on the rise, and flexibility and communication are the keys to success in the fast-paced world of Internet commerce. Looking to get ahead in the game, more and more companies are turning to video conferencing as a solution: in 2014, 56 percent of Human Resources professionals said video conferencing was their favorite go-to for business communication, beating out not only voice calls and conference calls, but email.
If your company is looking to add a video conferencing service to your arsenal, you’ll have a wide range of companies and services to sort through. What qualities should you look for to begin paring down your options? Here’s five of the basics that you should be aware of.
Easy Setup, Easy Startup
Your relationship with your video conferencing service starts right from setup and installation: will the process be fast and streamlined, or are you in for a nightmare of troubleshooting and new hardware? You want a service that will be up and running quickly and won’t slow you down with lengthy installations.
Some systems may call for a piece of hardware called an MCU, or multipoint control unit, and it’s highly recommend that you avoid them! MCUs are expensive, buggy pieces of equipment, and they’ve been rendered obsolete by advances in cloud and browser based conferencing. The fewer hardware requirements, the more streamlined your startup will be.
System Agnostic Service
System agnostic is a common term you may see thrown around when you’re researching modern video conferencing setups, but it’s not a meaningless buzzword! A system agnostic service is designed to be compatible with any operating system, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux. This is especially useful if you need to keep communication running between multiple offices with different setups, or between your business and your customers. System agnostic also means much less troubleshooting: your IT department won’t waste time ironing out bugs and compatibility issues on different machines throughout the company.
Broad Base Compatibility
Broad base compatibility goes hand in hand with a system agnostic network, but it takes that wide range of compatibility one step further—it’s not just software, but hardware. Some of the best video conferencing networks on the market Blue Jeans being one of the prime examples, offer a service compatible with desktops, browsers, tablets and smartphones; just about any device you’d care to name can be quickly and easily connected into a call.
Cloud Based Conferencing
Cloud-based conferencing is what makes all those strides in compatibility possible, and cuts down on the hardware requirements to install a new system. Pioneered by services like Blue Jeans, this type of call is hosted entirely online, and it makes the process of setting up calls incredibly easy. An employee can simply log into their account and select their participants, who will get an email with a link. Click the link, and they’ll be linked straight into the call, in their browser, whether or not they have an account themselves.
TechRadar reports that cloud based conferencing is especially great for remote workers, who often feel isolated from their coworkers. Since cloud based calls are so quick and easy to start, it’s easy for remote workers to get in touch with their coworkers for a quick question or to share ideas. In fact, a Wain house research report found that 75 percent of businesses with remote workers plan to use video conferencing to make sure their telecommuters feel up to date and engaged.
Screen Sharing and Collaboration
Easy setup, use, and compatibility are all incredibly important features to look for, but what else can a video conferencing service provide beyond face-to-face contact and communication? The ability to share files and work collaboratively is vital in a business setting, whether you need to keep different teams in communication or get feedback and suggestions from a client. Be sure to familiarize yourself with any potential service’s file-sharing options, and how easy they are to use.Nothing kills a conference faster than struggling to help a client upload a document over a webcam!
Once again, cloud based services offer the easiest file-sharing.They often allow you to upload documents or media files to an online library, which can then be shared with the entire call in one click.
A Few Final Words
Video conferencing is a huge part of the future of commerce and communication. As international business and telecommuting become more common, it only becomes more and more vital to businesses of ever size. Whether you’re looking to add remote workers, cut down on business travel expenses, or connect with far away clients, the right video conferencing service will be a powerful ally as your business continues to grow.