Video Conferencing Viewpoint: What happens when results exceed the promise?
One of the interesting things about our business is actually having the opportunity to witness change within an organization after a purchase. For us, there's nothing more exciting than seeing first-hand, the impact of video conferencing - and being present when the "promise" of a benefit, materializes in real life. It's fun to have a front-row seat to those "ah-ha" moments.
The problem is, lots of companies never get there. They have the same opportunity, but choose to stay mired in their existing platforms, or not expand their video conferencing programs, either in the false belief that their current service provider will "just get it" or they are locked into a past investment and can't make the decision. And for companies new to video conferencing, it's a tough decision to take on a major expense, without knowing it will fulfill the promise.
We are big believers in the new world of business - one where there is instant communications based upon a wide choice of platforms, voice, video, instant messaging, email, webinars, live demos, etc. The choices we have today are astonishing, and they're only limited by our imaginations. Being physically "there" is no longer a limitation for any organization, regardless of size or industry.
Our customers range from Global Fortune 100 companies to fast growing startups to small school districts, each with a desire to embrace one of the promises of video conferencing. What those promises are, and how the use video conferencing, are as varied as the organizations themselves. But there is a common thread throughout. Their belief in turning communications into a competitive advantage. Video conferencing for them, is a business tool for better communications across their entire organization, both internally and externally.
The Promise of Video Conferencing
At Video Conference Gear, we have a tendency to focus on Zoom and Zoom Rooms - in our business, it's always easier to go with a market leader. But there is another fundamental reason, and it comes to ease of use, support, and installation. Each of those are an expense to your organization, which is why Zoom, Skype for Business, and Google Hangouts have become market leaders. Part of their growth is timing, but the bigger part is based squarely on how they eliminate expense from the bottom line.
In research published by Zoom earlier this year, they report their customers have reduced their travel expenses up to 24% after implementing a Zoom solution. Those are hard expense dollars given directly back to the bottom line. Those numbers are a result, and in some cases an unintended consequence, of implementing a communication platform that is easy to use and easy to support.
We see these numbers and it's easy to "believe" it today. But how easy would it have been to believe it when Zoom or Skype for Business first started? Go back five years and if you were sitting in a conference room, listening to the "promise" of eliminating 24% of your travel budget, would you have believed it? Or would you be thinking, "maybe 10%, but not close to 25%, my people have be in the same room together to make things happen."
We have to remember, common knowledge is never common in the beginning - it only becomes common after being proven hundreds or thousands of times. Today, the value of video conferencing is being proven on a daily basis. The evidence is right in front us, if we only spend the time to look for it.
If you do a quick search for "Video Conferencing Benefits" and read the few thousand articles available (I only made it through the first 10), you'll see a recurring theme with the following benefits:
- Reduced Travel Expense (proven out by Zoom)
- Increased employee productivity and teamwork
- Increased communication effectiveness
- Makes telecommuting possible (along with recruiting and retaining remote employees)
- Improves Work-Life balance
- Makes distance learning and training possible
Those appear on almost all the lists, either from service providers, analysts or customers. And each of those are business benefits to video conferencing. But those are outcomes, not the reason why it happens. From my experience, there are a few basic reason why you get those benefits.
Why Video Conferencing Promises Come True
#1 - The time is right
Communication innovation has accelerated at light speed (literally with the advancement and expansion of fiber optics). The reason we can have a high-quality video call is based upon having a global communications infrastructure which can support billions of users, regardless of what "device" they are using to communicate. Video calling, primarily thanks to Skype, is no longer something that is "out there", it's a normal way for people to communicate. Video Meetings, webinars, and instant messaging, are services used by millions of companies today. They are only possible because our communication networks can support it.
Mobile communications has also driven a new level of user expectations. At the point you can get a personal call regardless of your location, it becomes an expectation to do the same thing in our business lives. Going back two decades, we've been having (voice) conference calls with our teams and customers. And those meetings could be single callers or large groups of people calling between conference rooms. It was only a matter of time until video entered into that mix. It's a logical extension to move from voice only, to video within our businesses.
#2 - Internet Technologies
Innovation built upon the internet have become common place. There are so few "wow" moments anymore. Surprise and wonder of what we can do on the internet, or with technology in general, has been replaced with demands and expectations. But video conferencing could not become a reality without the last decade of internet innovation and the millions of people who have turned "the web" into a basic utility most of us take for granted today.
Video conferencing is a perfect example of taking those innovations and turning a promise into a reality. Without the ability to "share" a massive computing, storage and communication infrastructure on a global scale - video conferencing would still only be available to the largest organizations in the world. The Cloud has given companies such as Zoom, the ability to develop a service which can leverage this infrastructure and provide its services globally.
Internet technology has also helped to drive the cost to unprecedented levels. How many people would be using video calling if it wasn't mostly free? Or companies adopting a new technology if the expense to get started wasn't near zero? There is a cost to any new technology within a business, even if it's free to start using the service. The key difference today for video conferencing is the cost associated with "starting" and then supporting it are extremely low. For many employees, they are using something similar in their personal lives, and that experience eases the adoption within the business. Making the cost of "startup" ridiculously low.
Without the internet and the wide variety of its uses, many of the technologies and services we take for granted today wouldn't be possible. Regardless of the business benefit.
#3 - Almost Every Business is a Global Business
Adding #1 and #2 together, you start to understand it's possible for any business today to become a global business. "Business without Borders" is a reality today. Online commerce doesn't take a team of hundreds of people, it can be done easily with one person. Reaching out to thousands of prospects is accomplished with a simple press of a (virtual) button. Finding products to sell is accomplished with a bit of searching. It's as simple to sell to someone thousands of miles away, as it is to someone next door. Billions of people do it on a daily basis. Being a global business from day one is no longer a pipe dream, but a reality.
If we can conduct business anywhere, then we can hire people who live anywhere. Once again, if our customers can be on the other side of the globe, why not our employees (or at lest some of them). That becomes much more possible when we can communicate face to face with them. We still deal with timezone differences, and it can be tough if we live in a world of "my way or the highway". If on the other hand, we view our businesses as being "virtual", we break free of the being ruled by timezones, it become much easier to see the benefit of hiring people who are a perfect fit, rather than physically available.
We come full circle. Within the past five years, the promises of video conferencing are realities today. Those three reasons why video conferencing has exploded are now part of our history. For us at Video Conference Gear, we've personally seen it happen from the experiences of our customers. And once those promises are realized, they want more.
Some of these companies struggled with making the original decision to switch, or to add "one more service". The larger customers have invested millions on "private" video conferencing solutions with limited success. Their experience kept them from going in a different direction, because they didn't believe it would be easier to install and support; or their employees could actually use it without causing more support hassles for an already over-worked internal IT organization.
The decision to start may be slow, but these same companies usually go from wading in the swimming pool, to jumping head-first into the deep end. We've seen companies go from limiting their video conferencing programs to a few employees or locations, to fully embracing it. They come to us looking to install video conferencing in a few conference rooms, to installing it into every conference room, and then creating new team meeting and huddle spaces. What was a "tough" initial decision to start, becomes an easy decision for expansion.
Regardless of how big you are, or if you have any experience in video conferencing, it's time to understand one simple fact:
The time is right to start is today .
We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. Communications and internet technology is providing opportunities for our businesses that have never been available before. Whether your justification for video conferencing is "reduction of travel expenses" or "better team communications" - what you will find is the benefit far exceeds the promise.
And when you're ready to get going, we'll be here to help.