The importance of videoconferencing for midsize companies

When it was first introduced commercially in 1982, videoconferencing was a luxury that companies only aspired to. Today it is widely used for everything from high-level corporate meetings and briefing sessions to job interviews and performance reviews to sales pitches and product demos. Videoconferencing is no longer just for large enterprises with multiple locations and large tech budgets. It’s become a key productivity tool for businesses and organizations of any size—and in every industry—especially as workforces become increasingly mobile.

Videoconferencing cuts down on travel expenses—and unproductive travel time.

Why should employees spend unnecessary time in a car, train or airplane (and needless money on hotel rooms and meals) when they can simply hold a meeting in a conference room or even at their desks? While some in-person meetings simply can’t be avoided, especially for high-level executives, most travel can be eliminated through the use of videoconferencing technology. And by cutting down on the time wasted in travel, overall productivity goes way up.

Videoconferencing also prevents meeting delays. Traffic or airline delays can derail even the most carefully thought out meeting plans. With videoconferencing, your team will have no reason not to show up on time.

Videoconferencing improves the sales process.

Videoconferencing has been shown to shorten the sales cycle and result in faster decision-making, which means acceleration in revenue. You can involve executives and product specialists in conversations with customers earlier in the decision process. And you don’t have to wait until an executive or product expert is in the area before scheduling a meeting with the customer, which sometimes can take weeks or even months.

Wainhouse Research, based in Duxbury, Massachusetts, conducts ongoing research of videoconferencing in the workplace. In a 2013 survey of 4,700 respondents, more than 90 percent of the executives said the biggest benefit was increased efficiency and productivity, 88 percent cited greater impact of the discussions and 87 percent said that videoconferencing increased decision-making. Since virtual meetings often have a defined start and end time, due to people dialing in from different locations, the discussion tends to be more focused with less idle chitchat.

Videoconferencing fosters collaboration and team building.

According to a study by U.K.-based Fraunhofer Institute, a globally recognized specialist in workplace collaboration technology, employees who work together using videoconferencing are more productive as a team with videoconferencing than with other collaboration tools.  81 percent of participants said that tasks via phone or email feel divided rather than united, while videoconferencing fosters genuine collaboration. 74 percent felt that decisions reached through videoconferencing seem more like joint decisions than those reached via phone or email. And 79 percent said videoconferencing communication is more effective because being able to see others enables longer concentration.

What’s the right videoconferencing technology for your organization?

A variety of videoconferencing and collaboration solutions are now available—from hardware-based systems to software suites to virtualized systems—and choosing the right one is not an easy decision. Based on its ongoing findings and discussions with corporate executives, Wainhouse Research recommends that IT professionals look for videoconferencing equipment that’s easy for staffers to use and deploy. Otherwise, their companies won’t maximize their time efficiency—a primary reason for implementing videoconferencing in the first place. “The analogy I use is adults buy toys, but kids use them. The IT department tends to buy videoconferencing, but they’re not the people who use it,” says Andrew Davis, a senior partner at Wainhouse. “It may seem obvious, but it’s also the most overlooked aspect when you look at the reasons why these deployments are less than fully successful.”

Getting videoconferencing capabilities from the cloud.

Instead of installing expensive hardware, many midsize companies today are signing up for videoconferences delivered as cloud-based services. They find paying by the minute or a monthly fee for a cloud service is a better option than making large capital expenses. Bauer, an Austria-based wastewater and irrigation equipment manufacturer with 650 employees, has seen a 50% reduction in travel costs and a 30% increase in productivity since instituting cloud-based virtual meetings.

Vendors like Cisco offer a variety of telepresence and cloud-based videoconferencing solutions, in various price ranges. It supports videoconferencing to and from the desktop, mobile devices and conference rooms—enabling more transparent and consistent collaborative experiences. The choice of what solution is right for you depends on how much you want to invest and how, and how often you plan to use videoconferencing in your daily operations.

If you’re looking for advice on what option is right for you, the experts at Next Dimension will be glad to help. Videoconferencing is a highly effective way to save time and money—and improve efficiency—and we’re here to help you make the most of this valuable business tool.