In today’s global marketplace, collaboration is key, and we need to be able to work anytime, anywhere, so having a high-quality, reliable and easy to use video conferencing platform is fundamental. Platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime provide some of the basics, but are they really enough for a business?
Most of us have used video conferencing in our personal communications and can easily see how the technology can enable communication at work. But before you start using platforms like Skype or Facetime for your business needs, take a moment to consider whether these platforms can provide the features, reliability or call quality you need in a business environment.
Does your free platform enable you to share content in real-time, collaborate with multiple parties, guarantee call quality or offer ease of use for your team and clients? These things may not matter for a personal call, but when you are speaking with your customers, suppliers and partners, you need a system you can rely on, with features and quality that reflect your brand. Making a call easy for a client makes a great first impression and indicates that you will be easy to work with, and can collaborate anytime, anywhere.
So before you invest time in setting up a free video conferencing platform – ask yourself the following questions:
How important is call quality and reliability?
Free services don’t offer performance guarantees, so you can’t be sure of video quality, clear audio or even whether the platform will be available when you need it. Is that the kind of risk you are prepared to take with your client communications? A paid service is always working for you in the background, testing bandwidth before the connection, and guarding against packet loss and latency, two of the main causes of performance problems and delays. Ask yourself how much it would matter if a call failed for you during a new business meeting, client discussion or even a job interview – the costs can be significant.
Do you need to share content and video at the same time?
If you need to make sure everyone is on the same page, literally, then being able to share content in real-time is a must. Some free providers will allow you to share content or have a video connection – not both! – so you might as well be on an audio call. With a paid service, whether it be a team meeting or a client presentation, it is easy to screen share and maintain the integrity of the video call, giving you complete control over how and when your content is shared.
Do you need an easy-to-use system that allows multiple parties to join?
The entire purpose of video conferencing is to improve communication. If your system is clunky and hard to use, can’t handle multiple parties joining the call or doesn’t allow people to join via their chosen endpoint, then it simply isn’t doing its job.
Internet-only services are generally designed for peer-to-peer conversations, so have limited ability to deliver the image and audio quality required for multi-party meetings. With paid services, you can seamlessly add people to your call at any time without sacrificing call quality.
A paid service also allows you to invite numerous guests in multiple locations to join you for a video meeting. It enables you to work with your clients or suppliers regardless of whether they have an existing video conferencing platform or are entirely new to it. Guests receive an email invitation, with clear instructions to join, that seamlessly integrates with their calendar platform.
A paid service also works for you allowing you to integrate your personal and company directories and create speed dials for regularly used contacts, enabling you and your team to call anyone, inside or outside your company using video or voice.
Do you need someone to call if something goes wrong?
Whether it is poor performance or unexplained service downtime, with a free service you can’t expect any level of support. Clearly, this is a major difference from paid services that provide a high level of support and full redundancy and can have a profound impact on your ability to do business.
Essentially, the key difference between paid and free systems is that paid systems have been designed with business in mind – offering easily accessible but secure video calling, reliability, and a high level of customer support. A high-quality video conferencing system really will give you and your team flexibility to collaborate while on the move, at the office, or when working remotely.
If you are a small business with an annual combined turnover of less than $10 million, you can even claim the $20,000 instant asset write off to purchase your new video conferencing solution. You can claim as many items as you like, just stay under the $20,000 limit.
So, if you are not concerned about quality and reliability, sharing content, managing multiple guests or ensuring that your video conferencing platform is easy to use, then a free service may be all you require.
On the other hand, if these are concerns for you and you want to use video effectively to collaborate with clients, suppliers, and internal teams contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a demonstration or to find out more about how you can claim your video conference system under the $20,000 instant asset write-off.