A Starter’s Guide to Mobile Video Conferencing

Mobile is the future.

It’s true.

In fact, mobile is the present. For this calendar year, according to a report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, 51% of the time that adult users have spent with digital media has been on a mobile device (slide 14).

Yet we still don’t know how to best take advantage of mobile devices. In part, this is because the technology is still changing so radically so swiftly. But the cracks are large and obvious. In the same report from KPCB, they note that while 24% of total media consumption time is spent on mobile, only 8% of advertising spending goes to mobile (slide 16).

That’s a big gap—and reveals how far behind we are on incorporating mobile into our businesses. Advertising is not the only place where we see such a big gap.

Take video conferencing.

Mobile Video Conferencing

According to a 2013 survey by Polycom and Redshift Research, video conferencing is expected to be the “preferred business communications tool” by 2016. Yet mobile devices were, in 2013, the preferred device for only 42% of users.

There’s a big gap in between what devices people use for video conferencing and what devices they prefer.

This is going to change. Mobile video conferencing is going to rise in popularity. So we here at TriTech put together a little starter’s guide to mobile video conferencing for you.

Let’s go!

Introduction

Video conferencing is real-time communication using video technology. Mobile video conferencing, then, is real-time communication using video technology located on a mobile device.

The device might be a smartphone or a tablet—maybe even a smartwatch in the not-too-distant future. (With this topic, mobile doesn’t normally include laptops, by the way, even though laptops are nearly as mobile as tablets.)

From a developer’s perspective, the challenges of mobile technology are clear. How do you make your technology—both hardware and software—good enough to support a resource-intensive, real-time application like video conferencing? We’re not concerned with this question right now, fascinating though it is.

We’re looking at the consumer’s perspective.

The challenges aren’t as clear from this perspective but they’re equally important. There are two primary challenges:

  1. Etiquette. How should you and your employees act? What concerns might there be?

  2. Technology. What technology is optimal? What features should you be looking for?



Mobile Video Conferencing Etiquette

In the Polycom and Redshift Research paper mentioned earlier, they polled users about what they thought were the most distracting things that can occur in a video conference. Two of these are “people attending from inappropriate places – e.g. public transit, in stores” and “inappropriate background distractions such as colleagues, music, noise.”

Mobile video conferencing etiquette obviously isn’t something everyone knows yet. Here are some tips:

  • Connection. Your internet connection is probably the single most important thing to consider when using mobile video conferencing. If your video is continually choppy or cutting out, there’s no use in even trying to video conference because of how annoying it will be.

  • Noise. Because mobile video conferencing can occur anywhere there’s an internet connection, you have to be extra-careful to choose locations where background noises and motions are minimal. Your favorite café might not be the best choice, unfortunately.

  • Camera. Make sure you frame yourself well. If only half your face is showing at a wild angle, you’ll be more distracting than anything else. This is more difficult with mobile devices than with set-ups at desks or in rooms, where you can optimize placement, angles and lighting.

  • Presence. One of the great productivity features that video conferencing software provides is presence, which lets you know when someone is available or busy. However, it’s much easier to forget to update your status on your smartphone than at your desk.

  • Work-time. The line dividing work-time from time off is getting more blurry, yet more and more researchers tell us to optimize our work-time and relax when not at work. Make sure you’re not encroaching on someone’s private time even if you’re both on the same smartphones you work with.

  • Professionalism. Mobile video conferencing feels more relaxed than in-office meetings, so you might think that a more relaxed approach to your appearance and speaking could be appropriate. Every business has their unique culture, but remember that you’re conferencing for business.



One of the reasons that mobile video conferencing is easy for employees to adopt is that it relies on apps. Everyone with a smartphone is familiar with apps, how they function, the common interfaces. However, this familiarity can also lead to people not taking mobile video conferencing as seriously as you might like.

So be sure to be up-front with your employees about how you want your video conferences to run. Clarity about expectations always helps, particularly in nebulous areas like when you adopt a new technology.

Mobile Video Conferencing Technology

The technology you use for video conferencing is, of course, very important. Thankfully for all of us, the major hardware and software producers understand the power of video. They’re working their hardest to support video in general, which has knock-on effects for video conferencing in particular.

Here are some of the aspects of the technology that you should focus on:

  • Specs. How well mobile video conferences fare depends on the processing power of your devices. Your employees need to have up-to-date smartphones or tablets. Providing incentives for them to upgrade is a minor expense for a major increase in productivity and happiness.

  • Data. If you’re going to be using mobile video conferencing a lot, you’re going to need an excellent data plan. While you’ll probably use WiFi for the most part, due to bandwidth concerns, if you want to be accessible truly anywhere, you’re going to be using up your data.

  • Compatibility. Most video conferencing manufacturers are now moving towards creating open systems, systems that rely on industry standards instead of manufacturer-specific standards. That said, you’ll still need to check that the application you choose is compatible with every device.

  • Features. Mobile devices require additional features for full functionality, such as pinch-and-zoom so you can read the texts of presentations better. You’ll want to go with an application that has an intuitive interface, letting you, for example, easily tap and swipe to control sound and layout.

  • Control. One of the advantages of video conferencing in general is that you can speak with many dispersed parties at once. Of course, many voices can mean chaos, which is why you need to be sure your mobile video conferencing solution has controls for moderating conversations.

  • Security. You don’t need to be told about all the security concerns that plague mobile devices. This is where an enterprise-grade solution pays for itself. Free apps might sound like a good idea, but soon enough you’ll be wishing you had the safety of a business-oriented application.



These are the primary technological features that you’re going to have to take into account when setting up your mobile video conferencing system. Some of them are shared with room or desktop systems, some are unique to the mobile world.

Mobile video conferencing is the future of business collaboration. Get started!

What Can TriTech Offer You?

TriTech offers a full portfolio of mobile video conferencing solutions. Our engineers and technicians are fully certified by the major video conferencing manufacturers including Cisco and Polycom, who offer two of the most popular enterprise-grade mobile video conferencing solutions.

We’d be delighted to consult with you if you’re confused about all the options out there or how to install your software. If you need help integrating the various smartphones into a robust, optimized system, we’ll be there for you.

Give TriTech a call at (262) 717-0037 or toll-free at (800) 891-3388 or email us at service (at) tritechcoa (dot) com to find out more.