The business benefits of dedicated video conferencing versus Skype
By Pieter Snyman, Managing Director at Phonatics.
Video conferencing offers both large and small business the advantages of increased productivity, improved collaboration and strengthened overall communication. The question of a dedicated video conferencing (VC) system versus a free, communal Web-based option, is however, often up for debate.
Skype and Google Chat are examples of free online call services that offer scaled down, low-resolution video teleconferencing in a point-to-point model. With a popular foothold in social scenarios (usually PC to PC, and typically two people), these channels are great for informal exchanges between family and friends in casual environments. Start-ups and certain SMEs also enjoy the advantages of online call services such as Skype, typically in the early stages of growth when their teleconferencing requirements are sporadic, and a potential low-quality user experience is an acceptable trade-off, as the service is free of charge, says Pieter Snyman, Managing Director at Phonatics.
With the move to regular teleconferencing, and to confidently compete in the corporate arena, a dedicated VC system is a strong value proposition. Where Skype and Google Chat are designed for one-on-one chats, a professional video conference system supports multi-point calls where three or more points (offices in different locations) are able to connect simultaneously with perfect synchronisation.
Drastically improved quality, cross-team and cross-country collaboration in real time, and a professionally packaged business image, are just a few of the immediate benefits of a comprehensive VC system. Additional considerations that trump freeware include the advanced technical ability of an enterprise VC solution to deliver excellent audio quality through echo cancellation, the 'record' feature for record-keeping and future reference of any given conference, and the capability of a dedicated VC system to ensure a secure connection for sensitive data sharing.
The true value and return on investment of a professional VC system is realised through the direct contribution that is made to the bottom line: improved efficiency (instant collaborative idea and document sharing), reduced travel expenses (key employees from dispersed locations can feed into single teleconference), improved productivity (work hours saved through reduced travelling, office downtime), and the competitive advantage of bringing products and services to market quicker through shortened decision-making cycles.
So, the answer of whether a dedicated VC system is the best option, or if an open, Web-based service will do the trick, lies in who you want to talk to, what you want to achieve, and how (fast, secure and accurate) you need the results to be.