How Video Conferencing Helps Your SME

We here at TriTech are still buzzing about the new Yealink VCS Video Conferencing System. At InfoComm 2015 last month, Yealink demoed their latest video conferencing product: Yealink VC110 All-in-One Video Conferencing Endpoint. The VC110 won’t hit shelves until later this year, but here’s what we know so far.

The VC110 will integrate a camera, codec and microphone into a single unit, as you can see in the picture below found in a recent press release from Yealink. This would, we’re guessing, make it ideal for a smaller office or more compact space, another offering that helps you develop the perfect video conferencing system for your needs.

This news about a new video conferencing endpoint from Yealink got us thinking about all the ways that video conferencing helps small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs).

We’ve talked a lot about video conferencing over the course of the almost 15 years we’ve been working with the technology, but we realized we’d never sat down and really explained how video conferencing could benefit your SME in a detailed blog.

So, that’s what we’re going to do! And we’re going to use the Yealink VCS Video Conferencing System as an excellent example of equipment optimized for SMEs.

If your company wants to experience the advantages of video conferencing, we’ve partnered with Yealink to bring you FREE DEMO KITS of the Yealink VC400 Video Conferencing System. You’ll get 2 full weeks of risk-free, cost-free video conferencing. Get in touch with TriTech at at (262) 717-0037 or toll-free at (800) 891-3388 or email us at service (at) tritechcoa (dot) com to find out more.

(By the way, for the sake of this blog, we’re going to treat SMEs and SMBs as the same thing. We know some people distinguish them, but we find the concerns are quite similar across the board.)

Yealink
Yealink

Video Conferencing for SMEs

We here at TriTech have been working with video conferencing equipment for almost a decade and a half. We’ve witnessed firsthand revolutions like HD video take hold. And what we’ve witnessed is an incredible opening up of access to high-quality business technology. It’s lovely that video conferencing equipment is out there, but if your SME can’t afford to invest in it, what good does it do you?

Effective Collaboration

Collaboration is what everyone wants. Or rather, effective collaboration is what everyone wants. Now, video conferencing of course is not in itself a recipe for effective collaboration. But it does enable you and your team to collaborate in ways that many people find are more effective.

Video conferencing eliminates the endless chains of emails and messages that flitter back and forth. A couple minutes of talk clears up a couple hours of text. You keep, however, the benefits of constant communication that email and messaging allow, the more people and the more your team incorporate video conferencing into their work.

Video conferencing also allows teams to get going quicker. The time investment of setting up a meeting when everyone is present versus when everyone can video chat is skewed in video’s favor. This is particularly the case when the video conferencing company uses open standards, like Yealink does, to integrate the related products of other trusted companies. People can chat wherever, whenever.

It’s no wonder that Yealink markets its line under Video Collaboration.

Video collaboration for SMEs is the focus of their VCS Video Conferencing System. By emphasizing an intuitive, user-friendly experience, Yealink gets you collaborating without needing everyone to suffer through learning a whole new system. For instance, almost every operation you need to do can be done with the included remote control in roughly three steps. When you’re not worrying about technology, it fades into the background, enabling you to focus on your business.

Building Trust

Collaboration also cuts another way. When you establish ties that don’t simply end in a sale, when those ties lead to working together, the bonds you create are much, much stronger.

However, creating strong bonds with customers takes a lot of time. When you’re able to reach them quickly and efficiently while preserving the intimacy of sight and sound that video conferencing provides, you’re able to efficiently build trust. Efficiently build trust: sounds like a dream, no? But this is precisely what video conferencing users find happens.

Why? It’s actually a matter of saving time, or rather, not wasting time on travel and parking and small talk. You spend more time discussing business. More importantly, it’s much easier to follow-up on calls, to be in contact regularly, because you’re only a few clicks or taps away. Yealink’s VC system, for instance, allows you to develop a directory of contacts for easy access and easy conversation.

You also build trust within your organization itself. Your workers will have open channels of communication, leading to increased collaboration. And researchers are, now more than ever before, realizing the importance of sharing and responding and challenging when it comes to instilling a creative environment at the workplace.

Your productivity increases both from building a client base and building a happy, creative work environment.

Flexibility

No, we’re not going back to high school gym class here. But we are talking about simple facts. Video conferencing makes your company more flexible, more adaptable, more able to succeed in the midst of change. How?

For one thing, video conferencing expands your geographical reach.

One of the primary problems facing SMEs is that you have limited personnel—sometimes only the founder—to go out and meet with clients. Your limited budget finds opportunity in video conferencing, because a single person can reach so many more people. In effect, you’re able to combine your marketing and IT budgets, because you’ll be doing so much more pull work.

Yealink has taken this flexibility into account. With their intelligent firewall transversal, for instance, you’ll be able to establish a secure connection with a remote endpoint easily. Their open standards philosophy also means that your equipment is going to be compatible with other standards-following equipment.

The workplace is changing, and you need to have incentives to offer the best talent. Top workers now often expect at least some of their work to take place remotely. And who can blame them?

However, remote workers also need to stay integrated with your everyday office. By adopting video conferencing, you integrate remote workers into your business, allowing you to attract the best talent you can afford, not the first talent that falls to your doorstep.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Every SME needs to keep its costs down. When your margins are thinner, you need to be surer that what you spend your money on will be worth the investment. And yes, a video conferencing system can be a significant investment.

There are numerous studies out there that indicate that a quality video conferencing system repays your investment within a few years. Why? For all of the reasons above, for one thing, but also because it opens your company up to modern business.

We’re the first to admit that anyone who claims to know what’s going to happen in the future might be exhaling hot air faster than a NASCAR exhaust pipe.

However.

We can pay attention to trends in the recent past and in the present to make educated guesses about where the world is headed. There are a few indications that video conferencing—particularly as it becomes integrated with unified communications platforms—could be headed to widespread popularity.

There’s a tipping point where enough people buy into a technology that it becomes a thriving community, people’s energy starts feeding off each other. We do know that more and more people are adopting video conferencing technology, whether that’s a low video quality Hangout or HD video like Yealink provides. We also know that people adopting the technology is driving more people to adopt it.

It’s becoming standard, becoming the thing to do.

No SME can afford to fall behind when competition takes advantage of new technology. Thankfully, due to companies such as Yealink, who have developed affordable and robust video conferencing systems intended for SMEs, you’ll never be forced to fall behind by the market.

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.