by Julie Zellman, Marketing Communications Coordinator, LifeSize
HD video collaboration is certainly becoming a very real communications tool in companies all over the world, including Fortune 500 enterprises and SMBs. Lifelike, HD, face to face communications is invaluable, whether you are closing a deal, sharing a new idea with clients or simply socializing with colleagues on the other side of the world. Video adds a human component to the often-impersonal business world.
As a business owner or IT administrator, it may seem daunting to integrate this technology across your entire organization. How do you know if your business is a good candidate for video conferencing? What are some important factors to consider ahead of time? Here are ten tips from our VP of EMEA, Andreas Wienold, on how to make video part of your communications strategy:
1. Evaluate your company’s current communications environment and how video could improve upon it. Are you currently using audio calls, instant messaging or email? Face-to-face video can be added to truly enhance collaboration.
2. Consider scaling your implementation. Start with video in major conference rooms, executive boardrooms and main meeting spaces. Have them connect to one another. This is a good first step because it requires no major network overhaul. Once you have that up and running, then you can move on to desktop systems and remote endpoints.
3. Do you have the bandwidth to support video? Most VC systems can traverse IP networks with 1 Mbps of bandwidth, but some may still operate under legacy ISDN links. It is important to evaluate the connectivity between the two. You may need specialized gateways in order to do so (such as LifeSize® Networker™).
4. Plan for mobility. One of the major benefits of video conferencing is that it enables individuals to connect regardless of geographic location. For a traveling salesforce or cohort of teleworkers, mobility is essential (as they may not stay in the same place – or within the same network – at all times). With mobility comes the need for firewall traversal. Look for a product that supports H.460 and SIP to ensure that your video meetings are secure.
5. Commit to a high-quality user experience. Ensure that you choose a video conferencing system with complete room coverage and use MPEG-4 AAC algorithms for superior audio conferencing (with echo-cancellation). Nothing ruins a video conference like poor sound. By choosing powerful audio technology, you can provide employees with a high-quality experience.
6. Automate and centralize video management. Choose a solution that simplifies deployment and can easily manage a large number of endpoints. A great management solution should automatically apply settings based on a specific user name, roll out software updates as they become available and reconfigure endpoints whenever necessary.
7. Incorporate video into your company’s unified communications environment. Data sharing, presence, instant messaging/chat and other UC tools can be integrated with video. When choosing the right video conferencing solution, look for one that supports open standards and an application programming interface to integrate with existing UC platforms such as IBM SameTime, Microsoft OCS server or Microsoft SharePoint.
8. Consider recording and live feeds. Though it is always best if individuals can actively participate in a video conference for optimal collaboration, sometimes this is impossible due to scheduling or time zone constraints. For product or HR training, distance learning or all-hands corporate meetings, recorded video by streaming or on-demand is an effective tool.
9. Educate employees about video etiquette and ease potential discomfort. First-time video users may feel self-conscious if they can see themselves on screen. However, it is important to let them know that they can suppress Picture in Picture functionality on certain video systems. This may help them feel more comfortable during a video conference. Additionally, you can teach them a few tricks about video etiquette such as avoiding distractions/multitasking and keeping doors closed during calls.
10. Encourage use. Your employees will follow your lead when it comes to using video conferencing. Actively encourage its use internally and, when appropriate, externally. Upper management should utilize it whenever possible for a trickle-down effect.
By performing a thorough evaluation of your company and its business needs, as well as the solutions that various video conferencing vendors provide, you can determine if this technology is the right fit for your organization.