Video conferencing has come of age and is used in every industry. Recent developments in mobile devices and wireless networks have propelled further interest in being able to video information anytime, from anywhere. Generic applications of video conferencing are too numerous to mention. Any department of any organization where meetings take place—finance, engineering, human resources, manufacturing, marketing, product development, sales, training—is an appropriate place to use video conferencing to:
• Connect dispersed staff without travel
• Bring in remote experts for consultation or training
• Interview job candidates or witnesses
• Make a presentation to a vendor or customer
• View data and presentations on an on-demand or real-time basis
• Receive information at any time or place
The use of video conferencing has the potential to increase productivity and efficiency by reducing unproductive travel time, preventing meeting delays, creating shorter and more structured meetings and allowing for greater reach of a message. Video conferencing also allows for an increased number of participants. It is often difficult to get information to everyone at the same time, but with video conferencing, all individuals who need data can get the information when it is easiest for them.
The initial perceived and quantifiable benefit of video conferencing was reduction in travel costs. Initially, many organizations paid for the deployment of video conferencing with the reduction in travel budgets. While travel savings have been a recognizable benefit of video conferencing, there are many more qualitative benefits. Three
other major benefits of video conferencing are increased productivity and efficiency, improved management communications and enhanced business opportunities.
INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY AND EFFICIENCY
• Reduced travel risk
• Reduced unproductive travel time
• Prevented meeting delays
• Shorter meetings
• Structured meetings
• Larger participation
• Optimize attendance
• Immediate information exchange
• Faster response
• Access to experts
• Time-share scarce talent
• Quicker decisions
IMPROVED MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATIONS
• More interface at all levels
• Increased flexibility
ENHANCED BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
• Customer service
• Competitive advantage
The top four applications in which video conferencing is used are:
• Management meetings
• Sales and marketing meetings
• Engineering, manufacturing, or production
This does not preclude other groups from using the technology (i.e., the HR department, the legal department, finance, etc.), but studies conducted by Telemanagement Resources International Inc. (TRI) have shown that the primary reasons that firms install video conferencing relate to the top four applications noted above.
Video conferencing has also been used for a variety of other applications, including product demonstrations to new customers, “town hall” type meetings and HR training. Given the longevity of video conferencing usage, all industries have developed useful applications for video conferencing. It is no longer a matter of if you will use video conferencing; it is only a matter of when.
Video conferencing provides tangible benefits to any organization. Devices that can handle video now range from handheld devices (i.e., phones and tablets) to high-end conference rooms. The technology is easier to use, cost is no longer an issue and connectivity happens almost anywhere. Video conferencing improves the way we work and provides us more time to spend with our family and friends.