|Business Video Conferencing|
Video conferencing used to be the exclusive province of large corporations or science-fiction films. The latest advances in technology, however, have enabled its use by both small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as individuals. It is truly no longer the technology of some distant future, but is alive and expanding in use today throughout many diverse industries.
In fact, a study performed by Wainhouse Research discovered that nearly 30,000 schools and other educational facilities were already equipped with some form of video conferencing technology. Many courses are even conducted completely remotely, utilizing video to connect students and teachers.
In other applications, the judicial system often makes use of video conferencing rather than incur the risk and expense of transporting dangerous criminals to a courthouse. Doctors and their staff have used the technology to speak with patients in remote locations and also to learn advances in medicine from other doctors. Creative uses abound, and the changes occurring in this space are proving to be a boon for SMBs.
Affordability and convenience
For small businesses, the affordability and convenience of video conferencing enables them to conduct meetings, sales presentations, educational workshops and other events while saving a fortune on travel costs, hotel conference room rentals and food/coffee expenses. It can increase their perceived prestige and engagement with customers, as very few companies are leveraging video. This makes the companies that do, stand out from the crowd. Helping matters greatly is the fact that the technology is now ubiquitous; every computer, tablet or smartphone with a video camera, microphone, and Internet connection is capable of being used for videoconferencing purposes. For those needing a more formal setup, specialized video conferencing rooms and higher-end equipment are available for rent. Today’s technology is a far cry from the expensive video camera and satellite transmitters that were formerly needed to conduct a video meeting.
Business building across the globe
Globalization is real and borders are being virtually dissolved, permanently changing the way business is conducted. It is made possible partly through Web-based technology like video conferencing, voice over IP and e-commerce platforms. What formerly took days or weeks can now be accomplished in a few minutes, thanks to the ability to simply connect and have a “face to face” meeting with a prospective customer or business partner thousands of miles away without travelling to them, and conduct business electronically.
For small businesses, this levels the playing field as it allows them to tap into new suppliers and service providers, as well as new markets in which to ply their wares. The difference between a video conference and a telephone call or e-mail is the personal factor it allows for a deeper engagement and trust level and is therefore the next best thing to meeting in person.
Another benefit for smaller companies is that video conferencing enables a remote workforce to operate more efficiently. Employees and contractors can check in for a quick chat while in a taxicab or waiting for a plane. Home-based workers can attend impromptu training sessions across the country at a moment’s notice.
Solutions and providers
Small businesses now have many options for video conferencing, from free or super-affordable options like Skype Groups, Facetime or Google Hangouts to robust services which can tie together dozens of participants from around the globe with advanced features such as file sharing, text chatting, surveys and more. Companies have also sprung up to help facilitate video conferencing room rentals across the globe for those requiring this option.
As the use of video conferencing in business increases, it is expected to make our already shrinking globe even smaller. For small and midsized businesses, this should be seen as a very favorable trend, as they finally have the ability to play in a similar league to “the big boys.