Copyright 2022, Faulkner Information Services. All
Publication Date: 2208
Report Type: TUTORIAL
Videoconferencing technology has seen growing acceptance for a variety of
applications for several years. This was largely because the costs
associated with travel continued to soar as the prices for technology and
bandwidth continued to decline. At the same time, the technology has
advanced to the point that high-end systems come very close to replicating
a true face-to-face meeting, allowing people in remote locations to
collaborate on documents. However, the single biggest boost for
videoconferencing came in the form of a very unfortunate event, the rise
of the COVID-19 pandemic. When this dangerous contagion became a global
threat, businesses suddenly found themselves scrambling to figure out how
to work remotely, many for the first time ever. While some organizations
could operate via email or cloud-based applications, a significant portion
of the world’s operations suddenly had to rely on videoconferencing to
handle anything that required face-to-face interactions. This report
details the history, current state, and growing importance of
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Videoconferencing allows people to conduct face-to-face meetings over a
broadband Internet connection. The technology uses a series of cameras,
displays, and microphones so people in different locations can see and
hear each other in real time, enabling them to conduct meetings or even
collaborate on documents without having to be in the same room.
Videoconferencing technology has been around since the early 1960s, when
AT&T launched a product called the Picturephone. Picture quality was
very poor and the service was expensive – about $90 per month in 1974.
AT&T only had 500 subscribers before it was discontinued in the late
1970s. It took decades before technology advanced to the point where it
could provide a high-quality video call. Today, broadband Internet access,
Internet protocol, compression codecs, and better video displays allow
businesses to set up videoconferences that provide a practically seamless
After several years of double-digit growth where companies invested tens
of thousands of dollars in high end systems that allowed them to come as
close as possible to replicating face-to-face meetings without having
people in the same room, the market shifted away from high-end systems.
Instead, companies invested in smaller systems or even mobile applications
that let employees use their own devices to attend meetings. These systems
cost much less than the high-end room-based systems and they can be much
easier to operate. There is a tradeoff in the quality of the call, but many companies
were willing to accept that in exchange for
ease of use. This turned out to be a very fortunate trend when COVID-19
hit. Nearly every laptop, smartphone, and tablet
could support the low-cost videoconferencing options that
suddenly became vital for keeping workers connected. That said, high-end
conferencing systems remain important in many situations.
Components of a Videoconferencing System
There are several types of videoconferencing systems on the market today,
ranging from simple systems that provide a simple image while people are
talking on the telephone to highly advanced solutions that allow people to
share documents and computer files. Regardless of what type of solution an
organization decides to purchase, there are several components that are
- Video Equipment. Videoconferencing systems use some
sort of camera to capture video as well as a display of some sort to
show incoming video feeds.
- Audio Equipment. Simple desktop videoconferencing
systems can use something as simple as a telephone to send and receive
audio, but larger room-scale solutions use microphones and speakers.
- Communication Lines. Some lower-end systems rely on
regular telephone lines to transmit voice and audio, but the quality is
very poor. A broadband connection is essential to having a good
videoconferencing solution. ISDN connections are still in sparse use,
but IP-based videoconferencing systems are becoming more and more
ubiquitous because of their flexibility. An IP-based videoconferencing
system also allows companies to offer document sharing and other
collaborative tools which make conferences more efficient.
- Compression Technology. Videoconferencing systems use
codecs to convert the audio and video signals into data steams that move
across digital networks. They also compress the signals so business can
use less bandwidth while still delivering quality picture and sound.
Codecs have evolved to the point where users need only a fraction of the
bandwidth needed to deliver a high-quality videoconference just five
years ago. Codecs have played a major role in the development of
videoconferencing and have helped prices drop significantly.
- Standards. Standards are a critical component of
videoconferencing technology that allows different components to
interface with each other. IP-based conferencing is supported by T.120,
H-323, and other standards like them. These protocols are becoming more
popular because of cost savings and the collaborative features they can
Types of Systems
Videoconferencing systems can be configured to provide point-to-point
connections or a multipoint solution. In a point-to-point configuration,
the conference is bi-directional; where participants gather at one of two
ends that has a video camera, microphone, and speakers. In a multipoint
deployment, three or more participants gather in a virtual conference
room. Each videoconferencing endpoint is connected to a multimedia server
(MCU), which manages the audio and video connections for each participant.
The following diagrams show a point-to-point and multipoint
Figure 1. Point-to-Point Videoconferencing Deployment
Figure 2. Point-to-Multi-point Videoconferencing Deployment
Types of Videoconferencing Systems
Businesses considering deploying a videoconferencing solution need to
consider the options available. There are several types of technology
available, including simple apps, more complex software systems, rollabout
systems, room systems, and telepresence. Thanks to the simplicity they
offer, mobile devices and laptops are widely considered to be the most
ubiquitous videoconferencing tools, especially for consumers. This is
because of faster wireless networks and the fact that most tablets,
smartphones, and laptops now come with high-resolution cameras.
Software or Service Systems. Software
videoconferencing systems use a digital camera and microphone connected to
a PC, to support conferencing. This includes both built-in components and
third-party peripherals, typically connected via USB or Bluetooth. This
type of setup is popular with consumers, since simple digital cameras and
bandwidth are relatively inexpensive. This type of videoconferencing
exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic as most laptop computers were
already shipped with inexpensive Web cams more than capable of powering
calls over increasingly popular services like Zoom. Even if the user did
not have an appropriately equipped laptop, a smartphone or tablet could
usually fulfill the same role.
Software systems also have a presence in the corporate world thanks to
the proliferation of laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones with
built-in cameras. The biggest advantage of desktop technology for
businesses is the collaborative features that tend to be built into the
service, and new interoperability standards are helping drive their
proliferation across systems from different vendors. Software
videoconferencing systems can operate over a corporate network, but truly
need the proper amount of bandwidth to effectively support the
collaborative productivity tools and deliver a decent experience.
These systems are gaining in popularity because they can allow end users
to share applications or collaborate on documents, but it might be easier
for most types of organizations to deploy a less expensive web
conferencing system that uses a regular telephone conference call and a
web-enabled application to support document sharing.
Mobile Systems. Advances in smartphones, tablet
computers, and wireless broadband technologies have also made wireless
videoconferencing a reality. Apple made waves in the videoconferencing
market when it introduced FaceTime, a videoconferencing application that
works with the iPhone and iPad devices. FaceTime currently works over a
4G, 5G, or Wi-Fi connection, but it is still thought by many to be the
most likely way forward for the development of conferencing technology.
Google offers a similar app called Duo, which also supports video calling
to both Android and iOS users. While these two first-party solutions
particular to the two largest smartphone platform makers in the world
remain rampantly popular, third party options also exploded during the
COVID-19 pandemic, including the aforementioned Zoom, Facebook Messenger,
and many others.
The market for mobile videoconferencing will most likely continue to
grow with increased prevalence of a mobile workforce and remote offices,
and an ever-larger number of third-party video calling and messaging
Rollabout Systems. Rollabout systems are designed for
person-to-person conferences or for use between small groups of between
three and 10 people. They are portable systems with all of the necessary
equipment, video camera, microphone, monitor, and speakers, built onto a
cart. They also typically include a remote control and keyboard to allow
people to set up and control to conferencing session. The controls are
often designed to be easy enough to not require an IT specialist.
Rollabout systems provide good audio and video quality, and the
portability allows any conference room in the enterprise to be converted
into a videoconferencing room. The biggest drawback to these systems, is
the lack of collaborative features, since they are designed to serve
everyone in the room from a single, portable unit.
Room Systems. Room systems offer a higher quality than
the other two types of videoconferencing configurations, but the cost to
deploy is significantly higher. Room systems are essentially video
production rooms used to support the enterprise, with the number of people
this configuration can support being limited only by the size of the room.
In this scenario, the entire room is devoted to hosting videoconferences,
including the acoustic design and lighting. A correctly deployed room
system has multiple microphones and video cameras, and most businesses
with this type of system have an IT technician assigned to running the
technology. Enterprises implementing a room system usually also install
complementary computers and broadband connections to enable document
sharing and other collaborative tools found in the desktop systems.
Room systems are often supported with multiple ISDN or IP connections,
but they also can be connected via corporate networks or even satellite.
Companies may want to consider deploying this type of videoconferencing
system if they are organized so some of the high-level decision makers are
located in different offices.
The cost of room systems can easily run into the hundreds of thousands
of dollars. In addition to the start-up cost to construct and equip the
room, there is an ongoing cost to staff the facility during
Today’s room videoconferencing rooms can broadcast high-definition video
and offer excellent quality.
Hybrid Hardware / Software Systems. There is also a
niche market evolving where companies are building solutions that combine
hardware- and software-based options. With these types of solutions,
companies can extend their room-based systems by letting people also join
calls via a tablet computer or smartphone.
Telepresence. The videoconferencing systems listed
above use increasingly higher quality and more sophisticated technologies
to improve the quality of the conference, but they all still deliver a
“talking head experience”. The highest-end videoconferencing systems try
to make the barrier between the people on opposite sides of the conference
so transparent that they feel like they are in the same room. This
experience, called “telepresence” is the future of videoconferencing.
These systems create a virtual conference table, where one side of the
table is a large monitor or a series of monitors and speakers. Using
high-definition cameras and advanced audio equipment, these telepresence
systems project life-size images that can almost make it feel like a
participant is sitting in the same room as the other
participants. Even the cameras need to be positioned in a way so
conference participants feel like they are making eye contact with each
other. Vendors are doing this by placing the camera behind a piece of
reflective glass, which reflects an image up into the camera to make
participants feel like they are looking eye to eye.
At the same time, the technology is supposed to blend into the decor of
the room so people feel like they are actually meeting face to face, and
companies need to consider that environmental aesthetics like lighting may
distort the way an image shows up on a teleconference, even though it is
fine for a face-to-face meeting.
Some of the more impressive telepresence systems are the Cisco
TelePresence Systems and HP’s Halo product. While they are expensive and
require a massive amount of bandwidth, they are the impressive, high-end
future of conferencing technology. Most telepresence vendors also
sell some sort of managed service to go with the hardware. Several network
service providers are branching out into providing these managed services
for enterprise-class organizations.
Figure 3. A Telepresence System
Source: Human Productivity Lab
Successful videoconferencing depends on the underlying network to deliver
three important performance characteristics.
- Isochronous Transmission – Video and audio delivery must be sent and
received continuously and in a synchronized fashion. Any irregularities
in the transmission of either or both media streams will have a
perceptible negative impact on the quality of the video and audio at the
- Bandwidth – For any reasonable quality video and audio, a sizable
chunk of bandwidth is required. The minimum threshold for achieving any
degree of audio or video quality is typically 10Mbps. Although speeds as
low as 128Kbps were once considered viable, this number produced a level
of video quality that would prove laughable to a generation that grew up
with YouTube at their fingertips.
- Low Latency – Because a conference is interactive, any delay in the
transmission of audio and video is quite noticeable. This is different
from some audio/video broadcast applications, which are much less
sensitive to transmission delays.
The following technologies are the most commonly used in
IP. Using an IP-connection for videoconferencing
offers several advantages. the main one being that many companies already
have the infrastructure in place. Codecs supporting the H.323 standard are
widely available, some of which are free, and making an IP-based system
the cheapest solution in many cases. IP videoconferencing across the
Internet can be subject to many delays, producing a poor frame rate and
often unacceptable quality audio. With broadband on both ends of a
connection, this problem is greatly reduced.
SIP is gradually replacing H.323 and allows for more direct peer-to-peer
communications. The protocol includes the call processing features present
in Signaling System 7, but it is different than this centrally controlled
protocol. SIP has been used largely for VoIP deployments, but it
increasingly supports converged voice, audio, and video.
Satellite. Satellite transmission is usually used for
one-to-many conferences. Although it is expensive, cost is not affected by
distance, and therefore it may be of use where very large distances or
many sites are involved.
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Videoconferencing was already becoming more prevalent in corporate
communications as the technology improved and became less expensive.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic it became clear that the technology
was not just important, but vital to operational continuity. While the
world may eventually return to the sort of in-person operations that
ceased on a near-global basis, it is very likely that the way business is
done has been changed forever. Workers unwilling to once again face long,
pointless, even dangerous commutes are unlikely to want to return to their
respective offices when it has now been proven beyond any doubt that their
ability to work remotely matches or exceeds their in-person performance.
Likewise, businesses that can actually save money due to downsizing office
space, on-site utility bills, and other expenses related to workers being
present will be unwilling to once again accept those unnecessary expenses.
In short, the world has been changed permanently by the great experiment
that was forced upon it by the need to maintain operations during a global
Videoconferencing had already established itself as an important
technology in a couple of very important sectors: medicine and education.
These two exemplary industries saw an extreme uptick in videoconferencing
use during the COVID-19 pandemic. For medicine, videoconferencing powered
telemedicine visits that made it possible to examine patients and dispense
care and medication while remaining socially distant to reduce
transmission rates. Meanwhile, education was allowed to continue remotely
when in-person classes were deemed too dangerous or too risky due to
ongoing infections in the area. While the latter of these two solutions
caused much controversy over parental responsibility for remote learning
and proponents of in-person learning, the mere presence of a video-based
option for remote learning saved many children from losing valuable
General Business.Companies in practically any industry
can use videoconferencing to conduct meetings, especially now that even
freely available apps allow people at all ends of the conference to
simultaneously video documents or PowerPoint presentations, or collaborate
on documents. Organizations can use these systems to connect people in
regional offices across the country or from subsidiaries around the world.
The proliferation of lower priced desktop and compact units is
increasingly making an impact on the videoconferencing market.
Applications for the desktop and mobile devices now cross all industry
lines and are being used to maintain business continuity at every level.
Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service. The ability to
engage customers, via videoconferencing, while securing sales or providing
follow-up service, is imperative to a company’s success, and vital to its
continued operation while COVID-19 remains a concern. Videoconferencing
can be used to train sales forces on the latest product information, sales
techniques, competitive situation and market direction, to communicate
with customers on product, pricing, and to increase productivity.
Videoconferencing can be used to conduct sales forecast and budget
meetings with remote sites without the productivity loss and expense of
travel and involve all sales related personnel who normally would not have
been able to participate for budgetary restraints. Videoconferencing can
be used to communicate face-to-face with sales persons working from their
home or remote location, and improve coordination and productivity among
reps and regional managers without the expense and time loss of traveling.
It is also now used to communicate with ad agencies and design firms on
promotional materials, conduct focus groups, launch new products to press
and customers around the world, and to get feedback from sales and
customers on advertising and promotional materials. It has now even been
used for high-profile product launches and press events, allowing
companies like Samsung and Apple to hold events that would have otherwise
been impossible during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Medicine. Telemedicine is the practice of healthcare
delivery using interactive audio, video, or data communications.
Telemedicine applications can require specialized videoconferencing
equipment that can deliver very high-quality video. In addition to the
aforementioned ability to provide socially-distanced medical care,
healthcare providers can also generally improve the quality of care they
deliver by offering patients access to a higher level of medical expertise
while decreasing their overall operational costs. Even before the
pandemic, videoconferencing was especially useful as a medical technology
in rural areas, where patients may have to travel long distances to visit
a physician. This technology can also put patients in touch with
specialists. The multimedia capabilities of IP-based videoconferencing
systems allow a doctor at one location to examine a patient with a
videoendoscope, while a physician in another country views the examination
In the private sector, home telemedicine allows healthcare professionals
to monitor patients who remain in the comfort of their homes. Studies have
shown that providing ongoing interactive consultations with patients in
the home significantly reduces the number of times the patient is taken to
the ER or is admitted to the hospital.
Videoconferencing can also be useful in pharmacies. Often times the
demand for a clinical pharmacist is so great that the budget
cannot support the required number of full-time pharmacists. So, instead
of having one pharmacist assigned to a single clinic, an internal
videoconferencing application in which the pharmacist is centralized and
the patients receiving the service are in a variety of locations
throughout the organization is more practical. This solution can be
replicated for any group of professionals, such as psychiatrists,
dieticians, and other health care professionals.
Education. Distance learning was one of the earliest and
most popular applications for videoconferencing, used by educators in
elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and corporate
training. Since the onset of COVID-19 it has gone from powering niche
communities of remote learners to helping nearly every child in the US
remain connected through school shutdowns. Remote lectures and lessons
delivered via videoconferencing are now extremely commonplace. Schools use
videoconferencing to offer classes that they otherwise would not be able
to maintain at all during shelter in-place orders, while universities can
still use the technology to offer courses by experts in a particular field
without having to bring on adjunct staff. Videoconferencing can even help
replace extracurricular activities by allowing students to take virtual
field trips. AT&T, for example, maintains a website of museums around
the US who offer videoconference tours or distance learning programs.
Additionally, corporations can use the technology to train employees at
remote offices while cutting course delivery costs, minimizing business
disruptions, and ensuring less lost productivity due to training travel
Government Applications. Through the use of
videoconferencing, state and local governments are able to improve the
efficiencies of their agencies, cut overall operational costs, and expand
the delivery of high-quality services to their citizens, all while
maintaining socially-distanced operations. Videoconferencing has gained a
foothold in many state and local government institutions. A report
commissioned by the International Teleconferencing Association (ITCA),
which analyzed the use of videoconferencing in the 50 states, found the
use of teleconferencing by state agencies was already a well entrenched
phenomenon with continued growth assured due to improved technology,
greater efficiency in telecommunications, and a realization of the
significant benefits it offers, thanks in large part to the forced
adoption seen during COVID-19.
While videoconferencing has been used most extensively by state and local
governments for distance learning programs, the positive results helped
expand its use into other areas, including the judicial system, state-run
hospitals, and the main branches of the legislature. Government Technology
magazine states that videoconferencing is being used for interviews,
public hearings, training, and press conferences. Courts use
videoconferencing to arraign criminals, while correctional institutions
use it for telemedicine to cut the cost of inmate care. Videoconferencing
is currently used in at least 45 states and in many federal courts for
appeals, arraignments, parole hearings, and other judicial proceedings.
Telecommuting. Typically, telecommuting, or
teleworking, is thought of in terms of corporate employees who
electronically tap into and interact with corporate resources and people,
including videoconferencing from the home to the workplace. Telecommuting,
however, is now being used to indicate a broader activity, which also
includes the individual interaction and collaboration that takes place
between home-based entrepreneurs, consultants, and inter-company business
partners. This expanded realm of telecommuting, which can thrive on
innovative videoconferencing technology, is poised to take
videoconferencing to a new level as developments in desktop
videoconferencing and public high-speed networking begin to impact the
desktop computer marketplace.
Manufacturing. Videoconferencing can be used to show
production line capability to customers, providing a virtual tour of
facilities without travel or disruption of current production. An
auxiliary camera can be used to walk the customer through factories, or
show previously produced parts. Meetings with suppliers are instantaneous,
and contact with them can be made at a moment’s notice on critical issues,
such as a quality problems, without travel delay.
Legal Applications. One of videoconferencing’s most
common legal applications is the deposition. Witnesses hundreds of miles
way can be instantly deposed with better results than transcription. Many
local legal systems have introduced the use of videoconferencing to enable
police officers to attend legal proceedings from precincts. This minimizes
the time police need to spend on courtroom activities, increasing their
available time for protecting the citizenry, and allows vital personnel to
continue participating in the legal system during lockdown orders and
Human Resources. The most prevalent human resource
application is recruitment. During the recruitment process, the sharpest
recruiters are interviewing candidates by videoconference before
presenting these individuals to their clients. In larger organizations
with videoconferencing available, it has become a step which enables
organizations to conduct a pre-travel interview. By narrowing the field
through videoconference interviews, less money is spent on expensive
flights and hotels for candidates where there is not mutual interest.
Another activity includes remote human resource (HR) management, whereby
the HR department is removed from one of the plants or facilities and HR
staff are available for consultation with associates.
Agriculture. The world’s agriculture industry is using
videoconferencing in new ways to increase quality and productivity.
Supermarket buyers can visit farms, packing plants, and distribution
centers directly from their offices to make informed buying decisions. The
system is so efficient grocers pay all the costs for equipment and
installation. At any time, they can review production conditions and the
quality of the produce they buy. With the document cameras high detail
view, exacting selections are possible. In the end, consumers benefit from
superior quality and lower prices because of the farm to market
The Pros and Cons of Videoconferencing
Videoconferencing can deliver several benefits if deployed in the right
situation. At the same time, there are several drawbacks, and
videoconferencing is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every type of
Advantages. Videoconferencing can deliver the following
- Business Continuity During Disasters. This is the
most important benefit, and the most obvious in today’s world.
Videoconferencing has allowed tens of thousands of businesses across the
globe to continue operations while COVID-19 would have otherwise ground
their work to a halt. Similar impacts could be seen following natural
disasters and other man-made issues that would otherwise throw a wrench
into operational continuity.
- Reduced Expenses. Companies can use
videoconferencing to hold face-to-face meetings, saving hundreds or
thousands of dollars on business travel expenses. With soaring fuel
prices, videoconferencing technologies can be an attractive alternative
- Improved Productivity. The latest generation of
videoconferencing solutions have collaborate features that allow end
users to share documents and applications. These tools can make meetings
more productive. Videoconferencing also means that people are not
spending valuable office time traveling.
- Access to Subject Matter Experts. Videoconferencing
can make subject matter experts available to people all over the world,
including people at several different locations at once. This is
especially important in medicine, where people living in rural areas may
not have access to the same type of medical specialists as someone
living in a major city, or in schools and universities, where students
can take lectures from people who would otherwise be unavailable.
Businesses can hold meetings with personnel all over the country with
- Scheduling Benefits. Videoconferencing eliminates a
lot of the planning associated with business travel. Additionally,
videoconferencing eliminates the time wasted during travel. For example,
someone living in Los Angeles would not have to spend the better part of
a day flying to New York City for a three hour meeting, and then spend
an equal amount of time flying back home.
- Intangible Benefits. Videoconferencing can also
provide the intangible benefit of replicating face-to-face interactions
during appointments like job interviews or sales meetings. This may also
be a benefit for telecommuting employees who work out of a remote or
- Squeezing More Out of the IP Network. The latest
versions of videoconferencing systems leverage IP networks for their
connections. Companies who use VoIP may be able to send their video
traffic over the same network without needing to procure additional
Disadvantages. There are also some disadvantages
associated with deploying a videoconferencing solution.
- Quality. Videoconferencing services are only as good
as the technology used to deliver them. In order to deliver a clean,
smooth picture, videoconferencing systems need to have high-quality
cameras and a fast bandwidth connection. Otherwise, the images may
appear pixelated and voice/video de-synchronization may occur.
- Cost. Prices have decreased over the last couple of
years, but videoconferencing systems are still expensive and out of the
price range for many small or mid-sized businesses. Higher-end systems
can still cost over $100,000, and there obviously needs to be a
connection at each end for the technology to work. Many smaller
organizations who are looking to cut costs on travel expenses cannot
justify investing in videoconferencing, so they opt to use conference
calls for most meetings.
- Latency. Depending on the quality of the technology
and the type of network connection, there can be a slight amount of
latency between the video and audio feed.
- Intangible Issues. There also are personal barriers
blocking the adoption of videoconferencing as a widely accepted
technology. People inherently prefer to talk face-to-face rather than
over a videoconferencing system that they might not know how to use
effectively. Telepresence systems come very close to overcoming
these issues, but as mentioned earlier, these systems are the top of the
line and are very expensive.
Security & Privacy
As with any enterprise activity, security and personal privacy should
From a security standpoint, analyst Ashwin Krishnan has identified 11
best practices which, with the assistance and supervision of the chief
security officer (CSO), can be readily implemented. These are:
- Enforce starting rights for meetings.
- Enable the meeting waiting room and verify attendees.
- Do not reuse meeting IDs.
- Add a meeting password.
- Lock a meeting once a quorum is reached.
- Remind attendees if a meeting is being recorded.
- Use a virtual background.
- Treat the chatroom with caution.
- Keep conferencing software up to date.
- Use encryption.
- Disable unneeded conferencing features.1
From a privacy perspective, enterprise officials should respect the
desire of employees or other conference participants to control their
name, image, and point of view. In practical terms, this means that
officials should not display recorded meetings in public forums, like
their website or YouTube channel, without a signed waiver from all meeting
attendees. After all, some meeting attendees may express controversial
opinions. They should not be subjected to harassment or threats from
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Companies who are considering purchasing an expensive videoconferencing
system may have a difficult time estimating the financial return on
investment. Businesses will save money on travel costs, but they need to
consider ROI from a productivity standpoint, and they should compare the
productivity of a face-to-face meeting against a videoconference as well
as a telephone conference call. More specifically, will a videoconference
be much more productive than a teleconference? This is, of course,
assuming that the business can operate at all without a videoconferencing
system being added to their repertoire of tools. If business continuity
itself is threatened, then, of course, the value of having such a system
is much, much greater. But, that does not mean that it is the only option,
as many types of businesses can continue working perfectly well via email,
instant message, and cloud-based applications and collaboration platforms.
At the end of the day, videoconferencing is only truly needed when
face-to-face communication is absolutely required.
This requirement relies largely on the psychological impact of that
simulated physical presence. A study conducted by the Canadian Advanced
Network and Research for Industry and Education (CANARIE), a non-profit
corporation backed by the Canadian government, found that the level of
interaction between people on a videoconference was very close to levels
achieved through face-to-face meetings. This study also concluded that 80
percent of the participants found the technology to be “very helpful” in
helping colleagues collaborate with one another.
In most cases, the answer to the productivity question depends on
whether or not businesses are using collaborative tools with their
videoconference. The future of videoconferencing depends heavily on the
applications it can deliver. In the corporate world, most businesses will
not spend thousands of dollars on a videoconferencing solution just so
they can reduce travel costs for meetings. Instead, they may opt to have
employees conduct business over traditional teleconferences.
The future expansion of teleconferencing may also rely heavily on its
ability to incorporate the aforementioned collaborative features and
channels mentioned above, such as white boarding and document sharing. The
addition of these capabilities can allow videoconferencing products to
remain important, even when visual contact is not really necessary.
Companies like Avaya, Cisco, and Microsoft have thrown their weight behind
the videoconferencing market and are focusing their energies on the
collaborative features the technology can offer.
Internet Protocol continues to bring its benefits into all aspects of
the telecommunications industry, including videoconferencing through the
introduction of video over IP. IP provides a cost-effective alternative to
a videoconferencing solution, just as voice over IP (VoIP) has done in the
voice sector. IP-based solutions are less expensive to deploy and can be
implemented with simple USB-based plug-and-play or built-in
peripherals. Wireless devices running on fourth-generation (4G) and
fifth generation (5G) networks are also able to support videoconferencing.
Using these technologies, an employee who is on the road can participate
in a videoconference with the home office using a laptop computer.
The true future of videoconferencing services is going to be its ability
to allow people to work together, regardless of what state the world
currently finds itself in.
Video Conferencing Software
For individuals and organizations seeking simple videoconferencing
software solutions, analyst Brian Turner has identified some of the best
candidates for 2022 and beyond, including:
- RemotePC Meeting
- Go To Meeting
- RingCentral MVP
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Meet
- Zoom Meetings2
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There are several factors that should be considered before investing in
a videoconferencing solution, but a decline in prices and an increase in
features may have made systems an attractive potential investment.
The first step in deciding whether or not a company should invest in an
expensive videoconferencing solution is to identify what it exactly will
be used for. Will the solution be used to replace travel expenses for
simple face-to-face meetings, or will it be used to maintain basic
business continuity during times when workers are unable to physically
attend an office setting? If the former is the case, businesses might be
better off signing up for an audioconferencing service instead of
purchasing a videoconferencing solution. This analysis should leave a
business with some insight on what type of solution is needed.
Once a company identifies its need, it should develop a budget.
Businesses should keep in mind that high-end videoconferencing solutions
that include high-definition displays and offer collaborative features can
cost tens of thousands of dollars. If, instead, the latter is required,
businesses may wish to opt for low-cost or even free alternatives such as
Zoom or Google’s Meet or Duo. Both products provide free tiers that can
connect workers, clients, and stakeholders for limited periods of time to
complete significant amounts of work or simply get some face time in when
Apart from technological aspects, other factors affect the success of a
videoconference. It is necessary to be aware of the conventions used in a
conference, how to ask questions or interrupt, how to switch sites, and so
on. Although many of the conventions may be those used in traditional
face-to-face meetings, the environment is slightly different, and some
training will be required. In particular, teaching staff will need to
learn an additional set of skills to use videoconferencing facilities.
Different strategies for presenting material and encouraging student
interaction will be required. Without training, the videoconferencing
systems will be under utilized. Therefore, there will be an increasing
need for courses on using the basic videoconferencing hardware and
software, and on presentation skills.
Attention must be paid to the results that videoconferencing is
achieving. For instance, are there customer complaints about a
conferencing system that is supposed to be streaming data to them? Are
employees involved in distance learning really benefiting from the
training, or simply going through the motions due to technological
problems or low-quality signals? Are video streaming connections being
broken due to Web server problems? Do all participants of videoconferences
participate or are they dominated by one or two individuals (more training
may be necessary)? All of these and many more could lead to an
under-performing videoconferencing solution.
Choice of videoconferencing systems is a difficult decision with so many
alternatives on the market, but in many ways, this is the easiest of the
decisions involved in the process. Remember, most products work
efficiently but the system will be almost useless if it is too difficult
to use or provides poor quality due to low-quality transmissions.
Lastly, companies who are implementing a videoconferencing solution
should make sure they have the IT resources to effectively manage the
service, or they should consider partnering with a vendor who offers a
fully managed and hosted solution.
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