The Business Benefits of Video Conferencing
The following article is provided by Nefsis regarding the business
benefits of video conferencing. The latest in off-the-shelf webcams, multicore desktops,
cloud computing technologies can deliver high-quality video
conferencing to any business desktop or room.
This article explores online video conferencing, its most popular business applications, and the
key areas where there are hard cash business benefits for implementation.
Small and mid-sized business owners are faced with a special set of challenges and demands that don't generally concern
executives at the Fortune 1000. The challenge of operating multi-office companies with an understaffed and overworked IT department,
and tight operating budgets are a constant concern.
So despite these challenges, how can mid-market companies grow their business, reach new markets and compete with
companies many times their size, without dramatically increasing overhead?
In this case, technology provides the answer: business-grade Internet connections, once reserved for Fortune 1000 boardrooms,
is now widely available; and the latest in cloud computing can deliver
multipoint video to virtually any business desktop worldwide (not just boardrooms with like-equipment).
The newest generation of web and video conferencing software and online services can be used to dramatically reduce travel and
meeting expenses, improve sales, and even cut teleconferencing expenses related to recurring inter-office meetings. Moreover, web
and video conferencing is increasingly part of the 'technology arsenal' employed by mid-market IT organizations to help them reap
the benefits of globalization, take advantage of outsourcing opportunities, and compete with companies many times their size.
What is Web and Video Conferencing?
The terms web conferencing, or web conferencing with multiparty video, generally mean software and online services that provide
a live, computer desktop sharing environment, including built-in audio and video. For historical reasons, the terms IP-conferencing,
or IP video are used too (the term IP refers to the TCP/IP protocol used over the Internet).
Unlike previous generations of video conferencing hardware, good IP-based products such as Nefsis do not require dedicated
lines and network re-engineering. Modern IP-based web conferencing solutions effectively combine a rich set of features, such as
video and desktop sharing,
PowerPoint sharing that enable productive meetings
with multiple people in real-time. This is not the person-to-person video most commonly seen in years past. These
meetings may include presentation sharing, sharing any document available on one's PC,
application sharing such as CAD, simultaneously
with multiparty audio (VoIP) and video.
There is no client software installation required. Once the web conferencing software is installed on a central
server, or activated as an online service, all that is required is a standard Windows PC, web camera, high-speed Internet
connection and any web browser. To utilize the VoIP feature, an audio headset is recommended. The conference attendee joins the
conference with a simple mouse click on a conference link, which is usually sent in an email or instant message.
In addition, some products such as Nefsis, take great pains to support business-class users in separate offices behind their
own proxies and firewalls. This is an area where IP conferencing products differ a great deal, and only those like Nefsis that
were designed for ad hoc conferencing do well. Products and services designed for consumers and classrooms typically fail because
they often use peer-to-peer or broadcasting protocols that do not work for business users, because firewalls block these types
of connections. With business-class products such as Nefsis, you can connect reliably and meet with geographically dispersed
offices, employees and customers online at anytime.
The Leading Business Applications for Web and Video Conferencing
The ability to utilize standard web browsers, off-the-shelf web cameras and headsets, in addition to the existing network
infrastructure, has accelerated the popularity and growth of web and video conferencing and has helped to drive it into most
vertical markets, including finance, manufacturing, healthcare, engineering, construction, law, commercial training and business
services, among many others.
The most popular applications in the mid-market mirror those in multinational corporations – sales and training are the
top two. Thereafter, SMB applications reflect smaller companies' need to be more cost effective. A popular application among this
group is recurring meetings, including weekly sales meetings, project reviews and general operational meetings between offices.
In addition, there are specialty applications such as telemedicine, video arraignment, engineering design reviews, quality
assurance, and live e-support reflecting the more specialized nature of smaller companies.
The sponsor's product, Nefsis, is particularly adept in these areas because it is highly
optimized for getting people connected over combinations of public and private networks, and simultaneously sharing desktops with
multiparty VoIP and video conversations.
A recent research study done by Wainhouse Research (
www.wainhouse.com) found that smaller companies report meeting online utilizing web conferencing more than any other method
– including in-person travel – to drive revenue or conduct business. Approximately 75 percent of SMB respondents believe
the ability to involve/reach more people and save travel costs and time are major reasons to use web conferencing. In addition,
69 percent of survey respondents use web conferencing to enable new meetings that could not be held any other way due to cost
constraints, timing and other issues.
SMB Market Gets in on Globalization Too
In the 1990s, multinational corporations had the infrastructure and operating budgets to take advantage of globalization. With
improved communications tools, the SMB can get in on this mega-trend, both as a better supplier, and now as a customer too.
Mid-sized companies may be headquartered and conduct business from one or two locations, but business has become more global
in nature. Customers, partners, vendors and suppliers can be located in the next state or on several continents. In addition,
finding experienced staff may require interviewing applicants from other locales. Web and video conferencing is an ideal way to
interview potential employees and contractors because it allows you to interact as if you were in the same room regardless of time
zone differences. Training and customer support are also two popular applications that have helped to proliferate the use of web
and video conferencing in companies of all sizes. Training can take place from anywhere and at any pre-designated time. The remote
control feature within web conferencing allows the host to take control of another individuals' PC (with permission) to actually
show conference attendees how to perform a specific task, or use a software application, for example.
What are the Business and Bottom Line Cash Benefits?
The benefits to the bottom line are immense. Not only does web and video conferencing allow for better and more interactive
communication, it can literally decrease business travel costs by as much as one-half by completely eliminating or reducing the
need for lengthy trips that are made for recurring business meetings, sales presentations and training.
The integration of audio, or Voice over IP (VoIP) further decreases operational costs by eliminating long distance calling
charges for weekly internal meetings.
In addition to direct expense reductions such as travel and teleconferencing bills, there are also revenue gains to be had.
The application of web and video conferencing in sales allows account executives to meet with more customers, faster, and at less
expense. In addition, the increase in reach and frequency may translate to increased sales and markedly improved customer
Beyond hard cash benefits, there are soft benefits too. The use of state-of-the-art software can boost employee morale, improve
safety where travel requires exposure to risk, bring telecommuters and remote offices closer together, improve business continuity
for key staff who can work from home during weather-related office closures, support employee
green initiatives, and where available, subsidies
for greenhouse gas reductions.
On-premise software, and "all you can eat" fixed-price online services such as Nefsis, can compound these benefits.
In most customer implementations, it only takes one key use of the software for it to pay for itself. All other savings drop
straight to the bottom line.
It's easy to take advantage of web and video conferencing. The latest generation IP-based software and online services are much
less expensive and more flexible than yesteryear's hardware-based video conferencing. The hard-cash business benefits are travel
expense reduction, the complete elimination of teleconference bills for internal meetings, plus increased sales revenue and
Web and video conferencing is powered by off-the-shelf, inexpensive audio and
that can be purchased anywhere. This broadens the reach of this travel and telephone conferencing alternative by enabling connections
to anyone in the world that has a PC, webcam and high-speed Internet connection.
Today's smart business can get the benefits of in-person travel, globalization and boardroom video conferencing equipment,
but without the expense. High quality video conferencing is no longer the dominion of the Fortune 1000. The savvy manager will use web
and video conferencing to level the playing field and outsmart their competitors, no matter how large.