How do I purchase videoconferencing equipment and who installs it?

Installtion_Article_84Videoconferencing is still a bit of a divergent product.   Most companies do not have videoconferencing in their conference rooms.  Many question whether they really need the technology — after all they got along without it for years.  So if your enterprise decides that they want to purchase videoconferencing equipment, where do you go?  A variety of companies supply the equipment and installation:  the phone company;  A/V Integrators; IT companies; Network providers and others.  With the refinement of international videoconferencing standards most enterprises will be compelled to implement videoconferencing sooner or later.  This will certainly become another essential way to communicate, like cell phones and email and texting.

If your enterprise is looking into videoconferencing first look carefully at your applications.  (Reference article – 10 Ways a Small Company Decreases Overhead and Creates Revenue with Videoconferencing)How  you will use videoconferencing is your first consideration. If you have multiple locations, domestic and internationally you may use videoconferencing for routine management meetings.  You may have key clients with videoconferencing, and you may want to meet with them more often without the encumbrance of travel.   Many applications eliminate driving across town.  For example courtrooms are using videoconferencing for cross town arraignments.  This saves a tremendous amount of time and expense for local townships not to mention the increased safety of not having to transport prisoners from the jail to the courtroom.  Local healthcare providers are also using videoconferencing to meet patients across town and in their homes.

Once you clearly define your applications let’s move on to how to purchase videoconferencing.  First look at the hardware options.  There are about 5 prominent manufacturers: Cisco; Polycom; Lifsize; Radvision; and AVER.  All make very good and reliable products.  You need to do some homework on the manufacturers.  Find out who owns them and if they plan to stay in the business.  For example Lifesize is owned by Logitech and Logitech was considering selling Lifesize.  This transaction could disrupt or change the support you’re getting from the manufacturer.  Narrow this down to a couple of favorites, but be open to any of the above manufacturer as they are always improving the technology and getting very cost competitive.

After you narrow down the videoconferencing manufacturer find a reliable dealer that does installation.  One big indicator of a reliable dealer is one that uses the technology.  Look for video IP numbers on their business cards.  If they don’t have one, find a dealer who does.  Do not buy videoconferencing from a dealer who does not use what they sell.  Most reliable dealers have excellent installers who work closely with their clients to make sure they are comfortable using the technology. If your company is new to using videoconferencing it’s easy to practice with the dealer using videoconferencing in their day to day operations.

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