I grew up watching the Jetsons. This entertaining futuristic family heavily relied on video communication in all forms in both their personal and business life. As a child it seemed so far stretched…after all, in our family we didn’t even have a color television until I was eight. How times have changed: today video has become persuasive in our personal lives through technologies such as Skype and Facetime. Ironically adoption in the business world has been slower, but I believe in the next five years it will become an expectation.
Video conferencing in business has gotten a bad rap because in the past it was extremely expensive and equally complex for the end user to operate. Many that made an investment in video conferencing found they required the assistance of IT personnel to make the connection each and every time. This complexity and high expense combined with the lack of a standard communication protocol slowed the adoption of video conferencing.
Today that has all changed. At least one of the major business phone system manufacturers have video capability and only require video enabled phones for internal use. Just by dialing the extension of the person you are calling within your company initiates a video call. If your business is spread geographically, these video enabled phone systems can allow you to have a more personal experience with your team members.
The addition of video control units allows you to federate with others with video conferencing systems and other users can be reached through a system of URL addresses, which will typically be identical to your email address. The endpoints, or devices by which video calls can be initiated, are also becoming more varied. A personal computer, tablet, video phone or mobile phone has the ability to enter video conferencing through these systems.
I have had a lot of business owners tell me they can never see implementing video in their organization, that they don’t feel it will ever be useful. My response to that is what happens when your customers and vendors begin to expect it? I remember back in 1996 when business owners were making the same statements about email. Email has now become ubiquitous in business. Video will not be far behind.
While I do believe that video will become commonplace in business in the not too distant future, I have to admit when our staff first proposed rolling out video conferencing throughout the organization. I wasn’t a fan. I am the world’s biggest multi-tasker, and having a video phone meant I would actually have to give the caller my undivided attention. This leads to the call being shorter and the team member knows they have my undivided attention, which is good for morale. Today, all five of the conference rooms in our facilities have video conferencing, all managers have video phones and our outlying offices are all connected with video. Our windshield time between offices has been greatly reduced by allowing us to hold team meetings with participation with our employees in remote offices.
So, now that I am believer, and hopefully you are too, how does one prepare for the inevitable shift in communication methods? The best way to begin preparing for this coming wave of video enablement is to make careful purchasing decisions that won’t prevent you from making the jump when the time is right for your business. As I mentioned earlier, several of the phone systems on the market are video enabled, and the new generation of video phones are no more expensive than standard hand-sets. If you are considering adopting a new phone system, make sure that video can be seamless integrated into the system. This will prevent the wholesale replacement of your system when the demand for video reaches your business.
Video enablement is also available through products like Microsoft Lync or Cisco Jabber that can operate independently of the phone system, but can be integrated with a modern system at a latter point. These type of systems would use non-phone endpoints for the video communication. Both of these systems are also available in cloud offerings which may provide a lower cost entry point into the video revolution.