Is a Video Conferencing System Really Worth It For SMBs?
Businesses want the things that will help them succeed. Whether it's a way to reduce expenses, boost income—or ideally do both at once—businesses are interested. Undoubtedly, many businesses have heard of video conferencing systems by now, and are wondering if this technology is right for that operation. The answer, it turns out, will vary according to the business in question, and the circumstances under which it operates.
Small businesses operating out of one location may have the least benefit with video conferencing. The need for it internally is minimal at best. Many common instant messenger tools and the like can be used instead, or the simple expedient of walking to another cubicle or office to talk directly. The value that could be had from video conferencing for field work or the like can be had in other tools instead.
There's also value in using video conferencing to connect with other businesses. However, a lot of that can be done by Skype, or by one of the growing number of Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) options. A video conferencing system here would be necessary only if it's needed to make that connection. Since many laptops include webcams built into the monitor bezel, and most have microphones as well, there's clear benefit in having at least some breed of video chat capability on hand.
Unified systems can deliver some benefit as well, allowing for greater flexibility in operations, the ability to integrate other systems like call routing and scheduling, and the use of mobile tools like laptops and tablets, allowing for a truly mobile workforce. That's a development that's increasingly prized even among small businesses, which can see the value in accessing talent from all over the planet.
For most businesses, finding a video conferencing system that meets the needs on the ground can be done, and offers some worthwhile benefits. Businesses able to keep in touch with other businesses are important, so that will be one factor to add in, as well as the potential demand for and use of a mobile workforce. One thing that's not so often considered, however, is getting that element of future-proofing. Just because video conferencing tools may not be useful today, having some element of it ready to go may prove worthwhile in the future. Still though, for smaller businesses, there are enough readily available commercial equivalents like Skype to make complete video conferencing systems less than valuable.
A business' circumstances today aren't generally the same as they will be in five years—ask anyone who's been in business that long—so being ready for the future can be a big help. That could mean a rudimentary video conferencing system, or just an understanding of the other options that approximate it for smaller firms. Either way, the consideration alone is valuable, and worth carrying out.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson