Video conferencing can offer numerous benefits to a small business that needs to communicate across large distances. It can be fairly difficult to select a vendor, though, especially if you don’t know what to look for.
The first step is to make sure the vendor offers the following:
- A comprehensive interface that allows you to schedule meetings and quickly switch between different people.
- The ability to seamlessly connect a video conference to changing locations.
- A way to monitor and manage bandwidth usage during conference calls
- The ability to quickly transfer data (PDF’s, Excel files, text files, and so forth) to employees.
The next step is to look at vendors and compare the following:
Price – The cost of the video conferencing solution will likely be important to your decision. If a system is outside your price range, you’re going to need to move on to a vendor that offers one at a more reasonable price. That said, you should try to take into account the cost of training, maintenance, and support when determining the overall value of the video conferencing system.
Quality – A video conferencing solution is only as good as the quality of the video. If the picture is choppy or has tears around the edges, your employees will be distracted and experience difficulty when giving a presentation. On a similar note, you should compare the audio quality of the different video conference solutions – every word that is uttered should be completely understandable.
HD capabilities – Many video conference vendors now offer high-definition broadcasts to their customers. If this sounds like something that you want, make sure that they provide the service (and at a reasonable cost). You should also keep in mind that there’s different levels of HD service, so you might not be set up to take advantage of the full benefits.
Security – Security is often overlooked when considering a video conference vendor. It’s an important factor, though, especially if you’re going to be discussing highly sensitive corporate secrets during the conference sessions. You should therefore make sure that the vendor offers standards-based embedded encryption and authenticates each user before allowing access.
One final thing to consider: ask for a free demonstration of the video conferencing solution. The majority of vendors will travel to your company and give you an in-depth look at the system. You’ll be able to try out the special features, and make sure that you have sufficient bandwidth for the video conferencing solution. If everything looks good, then you may have found your perfect vendor.