Why it’s a good idea to videoconference outside of your network

Early in the development of videoconferencing, manufacturers made units with proprietary algorithms.  This meant that each end point could only connect to the same equipment from the same manufacturer.  This was all right if a company with multiple locations and only needed to meet with participants within their own geographic footprint.   Over time this became impractical.  It would be like having your phones connect only to parties within your company.

It’s critical that any communication technology needs to connect outside of your network.  Imagine if email, cell phones, instant messaging, texting and faxes only worked within the company’s network.  This company would quickly go out of business.  If you call, email and text outside of your network wouldn’t make sense to meet customers, investors, suppliers, partners and others critical to your company’s success in a videoconference?

Firewall systemToday the good news is that companies making videoconferencing equipment all build to the ITU, International Telecommunications Union, standards. This makes it simple to connect anywhere in the world to any equipment including some of the new videoconferencing mobile apps.  The only constraint a company has in videoconferencing outside of their network is the firewall, which is very simple to work through by adjusting firewall settings.

This brings us to the ever expanding videoconferencing applications — Here are some real world videoconferencing applications where companies are connecting outside of their network every day:

  • A medical college is using a standards based mobile app to meet with interns in hospitals statewide.
  • An aerospace engineer meets with clients in Europe to present schematics from his computer.
  • Doctors routinely meet with patients in a nursing home outside of the hospital’s network.
  • One law firm is using a standards based mobile app to connect to conference rooms for depositions.
  • A recruiter interviews job candidates all over the world by connecting to public videoconferencing rooms.
  • A not for profit substance use organization counsels clients in local jails outside of their network.
  • A technical service company gets support from vendors using a standards based mobile app on an iPad.
  • A national distributor trains resellers outside of their network on new product offerings.
  • A construction company has safety training from headquarters to 9 remote job sites simultaneously.

The list of applications is growing every day. Standards based videoconferencing is changing the way we communicate and the way we conduct our daily business – All outside of our networks.

What is the Future of Video Conferencing?

In a nutshell video conferencing will be as omnipresent as email, cell phones and faxes. We will all have video numbers or video conferencing cloud access for our homes and offices.  The video number and the cloud based video access will be clearly displayed on our business cards.  Even today one can seamlessly access the boardroom video conferencing CODEC, or room system from an iPhone or Droid.    As the manufactured solutions become more refined and the industry matures, new developments will accelerate with higher expectations in the market.  Cloud based video conferencing will certainly play a role.  Even the smallest enterprise will be able to easily afford video conferencing.  In fact, over time, a small business serving other businesses will not be able to function without some kind of video conferencing access.  Imagine trying to function today without email, cell phone or Internet access — Your enterprise would be at a major disadvantage and would shortly be out of business.

If you look closely on how cell phone service developed and became ubiquitous, you will clearly see what will happen in the video conferencing world.  At first cell phone where expensive and needed to be installed in a fixed position in a vehicle.  Then Motorola came up with the first hand held option in the 80’s known as the “Brick.”  One big difference on how cell service developed over video conferencing is the fact cell phones could initially and seamlessly connect to the office or home – initially video could not seamlessly connect to the office or home.  Currently video conferencing can connect anywhere there is a device – Computer; iPhone; iPad or computer.  The new video conferencing acronym is BYOD, (Bring Your Own Device).

Today video conferencing is poised to explode because just about every device like an iPad, iPhone and Droid has front and back cameras.  Also, you can easily purchase a high def web cam with a built in mic at any office supply store or computer store.  This coupled with the availability of broadband access at continually lower prices and higher end user expectation is creating a perfect storm for accelerated technical development.

Many services are including video conferencing in their offerings, i.e. WebEx; GoToMeeting, etc. – but these services will be left behind because they are in communication silos and cannot cross connect seamlessly as in standards based video conferencing.   Robust standards based video conferencing cloud services with data sharing interoperability will replace proprietary conferencing services.  The market will demand video conferencing with the data sharing within a standard based solution that can connect to anyone without the headache of subscribing to bunch of different services.   Video conferencing develops in a market with higher expectation and lower astonishment — It will be race towards ease of use and connectivity to everywhere.

How do I get my sales force to use more videoconferencing and travel less?

Everybody needs an incentive to try something new; especially those who are in business development and sales. If your company invested in video conferencing technology for the sales and business development application it’s imperative that the sales team start using this technology now, so you can see more efficiency in sales and marketing, with a return on investment.

First the push back might be face-to-face sales calls are more effective. Guess What — A video conference is a face to face call!  In fact it’s a face to face call on steroids because chances are the other party is seeing you on a 50” flat panel display in their conference room.  If they are seeing you on their desktop, even better — You are in their office on a 20” to 24” computer screen less than 24” in front of their face.   You don’t get more face to face than that. 

Here are some ideas that may help.  First, make sure all your equipment works seamlessly.  If you are using a mobile videoconferencing application, make sure this works without any hiccups.  Test the mobile app with each other, within the company. If you are using a bridging service make sure you can test, “At no cost,” before deployment.  Reputable video conferencing bridge services will certainly accommodate no cost testing.  Often sales people are reluctant because they think there will be too many problems connecting.  If you are using standards based equipment, reliable mobile apps or a good bridging service there are usually no problems.

Once the technical issues are eliminated and the sales team is comfortable you are good to go.  One incentive is commission increases or spiffs for every new account brought in using video conferencing.  Other incentives can be tied to decreasing travel and auto expenses.  There can be fun incentives tied to a contest.  For example for every video meeting completed with an existing client or prospect, the sales person gets a ticket put into a hat for a drawing to win a grand prize at the end of the quarter.  There is a lot of room creativity.

Another critical step is training.  Make sure your video conferencing vendor trains the sales staff on how to use the technology in the context of a sales call.  If your vendor is using the technology now as their sales communications tool, they will certainly do a very good job in training your sales team.  If they don’t, you will not get the proper training you require.  One good way to tell if your vendor is using what they are selling is found on their business card.  If they have a public video number or a web address with a video conferencing server — they qualify.  If they don’t they probably shouldn’t be selling the technology.

What are the top considerations when implementing videoconferencing?

The number one consideration should be your specific application and how videoconferencing technology impacts your business and creates an advantage.  The second consideration is return on investment and how videoconferencing will pay for itself and contribute to your bottom line.

The first consideration is your application.  What is the driving force that compels your company to purchase videoconferencing technology?  Perhaps it is a specific problem or situation.

Here are some examples taken from real business scenarios:

  • Plant managers in various locations need to show problems on a large machine in real time to the vendor or machine maintenance supervisor.
  • Manufactures need to train reps and distributors on a new product quickly and they are spread all over the U.S. and Canada.
  • A key client needs your undivided attention on weekly basis and he is in Europe.
  • Field engineers need support in real time from the chief engineer at the home office.
  • There is a major opportunity to close a very large out of town account, but you can’t go there because you are needed at the home office.
  • Monthly management meetings with the regional offices are not affective over the phone and it’s too expensive to fly managers to the home office.
  • A healthcare facility has specialists who need to see patients in the regional clinics but their time is limited and they cannot drive to these clinics.
  • A law firm with several offices across the state and there is only one tax specialist in the firm and he needs to meet key corporate clients throughout the state.
  • Medical college professors need to meet with their student / residents spread around to hospitals all over the country.
  • A company needs to fill a key position quickly and the top job candidates are across the country.

The second consideration is the return on investment.  If you are considering travel time and travel expenses it’s very easy to calculate.  In fact we can send you the tool to do this calculation, (click here).  If you are analyzing increased productively, videoconferencing accelerates the decision process in any company or organization.  Think about how email and cell phones impacts your business processes.  Videoconferencing has a profound impact on productivity.