5 steps to choosing the right video conferencing tools

Three quarters of workers believe video conferencing tools are likely to replace conference calls and become the traditional method of business communication, according to Telepresence Options.

The average attention span is 35 minutes on a video conference call compared to only 23 minutes on a telephone call. So organisations have to choose the right equipment to make maximum use of it.

But how do they decide which are the right video conferencing tools for their business? Here are few tips to choose the right equipment.

1. Estimate usage

To select the right equipment, you have to know users’ requirements. Your staff and customers are your users. Make sure you find out from your employees and clients how they hold meetings and how many participants join in each session.

Also, know whether the meetings are long or short. Get to know whether the meetings are planned in advance or take place spontaneously. Find out whether meetings are recorded.

Getting to know these details from employees and customers will help you choose the right equipment. Since each employee uses different systems and devices, it is best to choose equipment with interoperability.

2. Collaboration technologies

If you want to use sophisticated techniques for brainstorming and further interaction, you may need advanced collaboration technologies that provide desktop sharing and whiteboarding. If you just want face-to-face communication, a simple video conferencing utility may suffice.

3. Compatibility with devices

You should make sure the video conferencing tools supports all the varieties of end points. The client may be using different desktops or mobile devices, so you have to ensure they will be able to connect seamlessly with the video conferencing system.

If you want high-quality video conferences, you may choose video conferencing room solutions with HD monitors, voice-locating cameras and stereo sound systems.

4. Network support

Ensure the existing system supports the video conferencing solution you are planning. If not, you may have to upgrade the system with necessary bandwidth.

You may have to consider an in-house solution before making the decision. You should also plan for additional traffic across the local network and through the internet, which can impact the infrastructure.

If you want to use quality service technologies to support the video conferencing then you may have to consider upgrading the devices within your network. All of this may require planning your budget to make these up gradations.

5. New components

If you already have audio and video equipment, like webcams, of a good enough standard, you may just need to have required bandwidth. If you don’t, you may have to go for a complete video conferencing solution that provides all the necessary equipment.

You should also understand that there are two major protocols used in video conferencing: SIP and H.323. The systems with these protocols can be connected with each other. The H.323 is the traditional protocol adopted by major players in the industry. You should know about the protocols the vendor provides before choosing the service provider.

Another important consideration is frame rate. If you are looking for quality, you should consider frame rate, which can provide smooth performance. The minimum frame rate for the lag free video you require is 24fps. You should look for frame rates above 30fps. Most of the web or PC based solutions offer 10fps to 15fps, which provide lagged performance.

Cloud vs. hardware

Another major decision you should take is whether to go for a cloud-based service or standalone MCU hardware.

Cloud is an increasingly popular option as it allows you to add users on demand and scale at your pace. It also minimises upfront infrastructure costs and connects all the devices into the multi-party video conferencing system without requiring any MCU hardware.

Video conferencing equipment for IT is a decision you should make after proper research about providers, such as Blue Jeans, since it impacts the productivity of the IT department.

According to Network World, video collaboration is projected to grow more than 30% annually, but you should keep in mind the latest technologies and the budget required before choosing any option.

Whatever option you choose, you should ensure your employees and customers use it so that you get maximum benefit out of it. If you make the wrong choice, the equipment could quickly become redundant, leading to unnecessary infrastructure costs.

Choose services that are mobile friendly since the future trend is pointing towards mobile-based video conferencing. If your decision doesn’t take future trends into consideration, your organisation’s growth could be hampered. Make an informed decision so you get the best of the latest technologies in video conferencing.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...