Videoconferencing has been adopted by over 75% of organizations and is common across small, medium and large environments and multiple industry verticals – adoption does not depend on company size.
Companies that have adopted videoconferencing technology are realizing average annual travel reductions of greater than 20% on average. Many are able to justify further investment based on these hard cost savings alone.
We recently polled our clients to find out where they stand on using videoconferencing for business. The results? 52% report that videoconferencing is just as effective as in-person meetings. In the words of one client: “[videoconferencing] has made travel virtually unnecessary.”
Immersive telepresence solutions have created considerable buzz in the videoconferencing market, but conventional room systems and desktop clients are much more affordable, flexible and practical for the vast majority of companies.
The business videoconferencing market is highly consolidated and is largely dominated by only five major players: Cisco, LifeSize, Polycom, RADVISION and Vidyo. You can read our complete Videoconferencing Vendor Landscape to get the details on each company’s videoconferencing offering – regardless of the vendor you choose for videoconferencing, planning for implementation is the key to achieving measurable benefits with satisfactory ROI.
Planning is the Key to Videoconferencing Success
Like IP voice traffic, video is a real-time network application that is highly susceptible to latency, packet loss and jitter. Enterprises that have not previously managed real-time communications risk identifying network congestion issues only after a solution is deployed.
To reduce these risks, address the following when preparing your network:
- Determine bandwidth requirements. Depending on the solution selected, the bandwidth required per single video stream can range from 256kbps to over 1Mbps for HD quality video.
- Prepare LAN environment. A managed LAN with 802.1q (VLAN tagging) and 802.1p (traffic prioritization) at Layer 2 and DiffServ at Layer 3 is essential to support optimal video performance.
- Ensure WAN performance. To support multi-site conferencing, MPLS or dedicated connectivity, allowing traffic prioritization, are a necessity.
But it’s not all about the technology. It’s important to look after the room equipment and design elements that contribute to the overall meeting experience. Acoustics, lighting, and display sizes are very important components of conference room and boardroom videoconferencing deployment scenarios.
Things you should take into account regarding your videoconferencing implementation:
- Acoustics. Clear audio is vital – rooms should be isolated from HVAC noise and specific treatments for interior walls and ceilings (e.g. acoustic tiles) may be warranted in some cases.
- Lighting. Ensure that shadows are minimized and avoid rooms with uncovered windows – controlled, soft lighting, positioned away from displays, is a must.
- Displays. Matching display size to average viewing distance will ensure that user engagement and visual cues are optimized.
Don’t be afraid to call in the experts. Very few IT shops have specialized A/V experience on staff – using a systems integrator is often central to the success of the project.
End User Adoption is Not a Given – Invest in Training Early
End user uptake of videoconferencing tools is not a given. In fact, 49% of survey respondents indicate that their organizations are not realizing the anticipated adoption for the videoconferencing deployment. Engaging end users early in planning will help ensure that the solution selected will best meet business and team collaboration requirements.
Requiring IT personnel to setup each meeting is a weak proposition – users must be able to independently access and use the equipment in order for uptake to reach optimal levels. A comprehensive end user training plan is critical to ensuring videoconferencing usage, virtual meeting productivity and overall long-term project success.
Plan a pilot project to test the technology in your real-world scenarios. This will help ready users for wide-spread adoption, and can provide opportunities to build confidence in the technology. You should consider:
- Awareness. Showcasing videoconferencing tools and technology in the context of user information sessions can help develop user mindshare and generate interest in real-time collaboration tools.
- Support. While some users may find the tools to be intuitive, others will likely have difficulty acclimating. A pilot stage will help IT understand specific usage barriers and target training accordingly.
- Feedback. Collecting end user feedback throughout the planning process can help IT anticipate future challenges and feature requests and improve its approach to future rollout.
Understanding user collaboration requirements, actual use cases, and daily communications habits will help IT determine the right videoconferencing technology for business needs.
Integration of a videoconferencing solution with existing IT elements – directory services, calendar, UC platforms – and a comprehensive end user training strategy are critical to long term success and widespread usage in the organization.