So, you’re considering buying an in-house video conference system. Congratulations --it will save you a lot in travel expenses, not to mention the stress of going to airports these days. In 2011, Inc. magazine, predicted that “75% Of Enterprises To Use Videoconferencing By 2013.” The article noted that in a survey conducted by CDW, which included 631 IT and telecommunications managers,
"Sixty-nine percent of respondents who installed video conferencing in their organizations said it was crucial to complete a thorough network assessment before installation and 66% of those said they had to upgrade or change their IT networks to accommodate video conferencing packets."
Based on this survey, your first step in this process is to review your existing network to make sure that it can handle the volume and the bandwidth of video conferencing services. Other buying tips are:
- Make sure that you have the proper Internet power to handle videoconferencing. Even if you have VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service, you may still need to add to your bandwidth to handle the extra volume.
- Consider well-known brands and proven vendors that will be around for a long time. You want to deal with reputable firms, not with obscure systems from firms nobody heard of.
- Conduct a brief search online about the systems you're interested in, and get yourself educated about the systems' functions, limitations, requirements and customers' experiences. You may be able to download free white papers and guides full of practical information.
- Avoid brand new systems that may still have bugs on them. Go for equipment that have been around for awhile and have been upgraded lately.
- Review your in-house expertise regarding video conferences. If you’re comfortable with the staff ability to install and maintain the system, then go ahead. However, if your employees are not that knowledgeable about the system, you may consider getting a hosted videoconferencing system first and then, as people get more educated on the technical aspects of the system, you can move it in-house.
- Test the system before making a final decision. Make sure the quality of audio and video is acceptable when dealing with multiple locations. Test about three systems before making a decision on which one to purchase.
Deciding on buying a videoconferencing system can be a big step for any business. On one hand you want to save time and money on unnecessary travel, but on the other hand, you don’t want to spend money on a system that may not work for your firm. Be careful and patient, and you’ll select the best option for your business.