Just a few short years ago the only people using video conferencing were very large companies. And to accomplish this feat, they were investing large amounts of money to buy the equipment, software, and to install dedicated lines between their facilities to complete the connection. Today, everyone is doing it. They just don’t call it video conferencing. Today, you will hear terms like video chatting or Skyping just to name a few. To top it off, the cost is minimal and in some cases free. So, what is it and how does it work?
Let’s start with some basics. If you have access to high speed internet, a computer, and a web cam, you can do this. The technology surrounding video is changing at breakneck speeds. There are new software companies popping up on a daily basis. Existing companies are adding the technology to their product offerings. This technology has even spread to mobile devices like your smart phone.
One on One
One on One video conferencing is what most people are doing today. The best part is that it is free. I say “free” because you already have a computer, web cam, and internet. So therefore, you do not experience any additional cost to do this. All you have to do is signup with one of the software providers such as Skype or Google Voice and Video. There are too many to name them all. Then, you can connect to anyone else who has done the same with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Apple has made it even easier. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can connect to other iPhone or iPad users with Face Time. Face Time is currently limited to just Apple products including the iPhone, iPad, and their Mac computers. But it really shows where video communication is heading. The one limitation with Face Time is that you must have a wi-fi connection. They currently do not allow you to use your wireless data plan to connect.
Multiple User video conferencing is the next step up. This allows you to meet via video with multiple locations at one time. There is a cost involved here. The good news is that you still only need a computer, webcam, and a high speed internet connection. There are too many companies offering this service to list them all. But for a monthly subscription, companies like Skype, WebEx, Go To Meeting, and Mega Meeting offer the service where you can connect multiple users at one time. Each company is different in the features they offer and how many connections that can be made at one time. Some allow desktop sharing and some do not. You will need to determine the best fit for you.
Conference Room Video Conferencing
Setting up a conference room to video conference is just as easy as setting up to do it at your desk. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, a camera (preferably an HD web cam) and a screen. You will probably want to invest in a big screen TV depending on the size of your room. That way everyone in the room will be able to see the screen. You can use the same video conferencing services as the One on One or the Multiple Users.
Business Tool or Cool Toy
Here is the million dollar question. Is video conferencing really a business tool or is it just a cool toy? The answer depends on how you decide to use it. Just like all of the new technologies, such as Facebook or Twitter, how you use video conferencing will determine if it is an effective business tool. Have you ever heard the saying that “a picture is worth 1000 words? Well, seeing someone’s facial expression can be just as important as hearing the words they are saying. For example: Have you ever had to deal with a customer on a quality issue and thought to yourself, “I sure wish I could see what they are looking at”? Well, now you can.
These are just a couple of examples of how you can use video conferencing in your business every day. It is an easy, cost effective way of communicating with your customers and vendors that can help you improve your business.