Let’s face it, videoconferencing is hardly a new concept but, with organisations under pressure to reduce travel costs, show environmental responsibility and improve staff efficiency, many organisations are taking a second look at the business benefits of video as a communications tool.
Thankfully, recent improvements mean today’s systems are much easier to use than those of years gone by that saw senior executives in offices around the world trying to get the bloody things to work.
However, there are still hurdles that need to be cleared, including the supply of appropriate bandwidth and understanding what the technology can actually offer before the cameras start rolling.
Blue Coat country manager, Peter Owen, said the evolution of video on networks was one of the biggest trends in the industry. “Five years ago video on the network was only being spoken about; now we’re seeing the amount of video content increasing significantly,” he said.
The ability to replicate a face-to-face meeting without having to travel to the next state or around the world has been a key factor in driving the acceleration of videoconferencing.
“We’ve moved a long way in videoconferencing during the past five years,” Polycom country manager, Michael Chetner, said. “That new experience is underpinned by high-definition video and the drop in price points.
“Companies that have teams dispersed globally are looking at ways of being more productive and saving costs. High-definition video will address a lot of those business challenges about improving productivity.”
But while high-definition is delivering marked improvements in quality, it also adds a new layer of strain to the network because of greater bandwidth requirements.
Systems integrators that want to set themselves apart from the unified communications crowd should think of videoconferencing as a point of difference, according to Chetner.
“As high-definition video becomes more a more mainstream technology, it becomes more of a challenge,” he said. “Over the next 6-12 months there’s going to be a lot of growth as we start tapping into the desktop, which has been untouched for a long time because it didn’t have the drivers needed for adopting this type of technology.”
While shelling out for corporate videoconferencing equipment is far from cheap, it can start to sound like a much more viable option by the time you tally up the cost of senior executive airfares, the inconvenience of having them travelling for days for a couple of meetings and the impact that travel has on the environment.
“It’s going to be saving organisations a lot of downtime for their employees while also maximising their availability,” Express Data national BDM, Angela Logan-Bell said. “Virtual meeting technologies are becoming very prevalent and if organisations don’t have those tools available, they’re going to be left behind.”