Featured Article from Conferencing

Businesses Turn to PBX and Video Phones to Lower Costs

July 01, 2014

Video conferencing is becoming an integral part of many businesses' daily operations. Staff members need to keep in touch with one another, working groups need to converse with managers, and chief officers need to remain connected with employees and managers at all business levels. Virtual meetings, made possible with video conferencing technology, allow such groups and individuals to complete work smoothly and efficiently.

The downside, however, is that traditional video workstations can cost a pretty penny. Personal endpoints in the dedicated video system market, SearchUnifiedCommunications points out, average about $5,000 each. Even global enterprises with regular influxes of capital may not want to spend that much – especially when they can achieve similar results with similar technology at a fraction of the price.

This is where video phones, supported by private branch exchange (PBX) platforms, can make a huge difference. Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for enterprise networks and video at Infonetics Research, spoke to SearchUnifiedCommunications about how businesses are beginning to use video phones to support their videoconferencing needs.

Many PBX service providers, Machowinski says, now offer video capability as part of their service packages. They can offer phones that natively support their video technology or, alternatively, may support software such as Skype.

Video phones are not always the best solution because they can be small, and resolution, even on the best of phones, cannot match that offered by high-end video monitors that can project video to a room full of participants. For individuals out of the office, though, mobile phones can offer video that is clear enough for a simple video call. They can also transmit video back to other call participants via their cameras that is of decent quality.

Machowinski remarked that the video phone market doubled between 2011 and 2012 from $82 million to $190 million. It nearly doubled again in 2013 to $275 million. Businesses are clearly investing in this technology to skirt the traditional costs associated with video conferencing. PBX providers are keeping pace by offering smooth streaming at prices that can fit most businesses' budgets, and the fact that nearly every employee already carries around a smartphone in his or her pocket also provides incentive for companies to pick up the PBX option.

In addition, look for dedicated system endpoints to come down in price to try to compete with the mobile phone market as well as support that growing market. Software that supports all such systems is improving as well. As Machowinski clearly states, "people are after the capabilities," but individuals and businesses want products that fit their budgets and their lifestyles. Video phones aided by PBX can realistically match those expectations with a quality product.

Edited by Alisen Downey