2019 Video Conferencing Software Buyer's Guide
The potential to gather leads, generate new business, and recruit clients or customers continues to expand as more businesses embrace online growth channels. Video conferencing offers you the ability to easily connect with people around the world, in a face-to-face capacity, without physically being in the same place.
The growing trend of meeting and collaborating in virtual settings has led to a variety of great video conferencing options and providers. Most every solution is simple and cost-effective to implement and begin using immediately. No matter the size or business needs of your company, you will have no barriers in finding a video conferencing offering that will help propel your business forward with customizable features designed to enhance your business communications.
This guide will provide insight and tools for selecting the best video conferencing solution for your company.
Video Conferencing Features and Benefits
The features offered by video conferencing vendors are the tools that will help enhance your company communications. While your business needs, users, and budget will all work together to help you choose the best system for your business, there are a list of core features offered by video conferencing vendors that you will want to make sure are included in whichever option you choose.
The core, must-have features of any video conferencing software include:
- Video calling
- Call and screen recording
- Presentation tools
- Conference calling capabilities
- Chat (individual and groups)
- Screen, document, and media sharing
- User-friendly dashboards
- Reporting and analytics tools
Using the best video conferencing system for your business can bring many benefits (for communication and otherwise) to your company, including:
- Enhanced communication, both internally and externally
- Increased collaboration opportunities
- Increased mobility and flexibility
- Improved efficiency and productivity
- Reduced costs
- Competitive advantage and profit opportunities
- Advanced reporting and analytics
Video Conferencing Trends to Watch in 2019
Business trends and software trends have a symbiotic relationship much of the time, innovation in one area always drives change in the other. To stay current and competitive in your industry by embracing all the best tools for your business, you should regularly study trends surrounding the software solutions you use in your company.
Video conferencing solutions have quickly assumed the role of a business must-have in recent years. This is due to the great benefits video conferencing provides for companies of all types and sizes, but it can also be contributed to the mainstream availability of VC technology that was once only found in the board rooms of large corporations. In 2019 and beyond, cloud-based video conferencing solutions are only expected to increase in business adoption and continually evolve to include more elaborate tools for connection and collaboration.
As 5G speed moves to the mainstream, 2019 will bring about even more enhanced video technology with better video resolution, speed, and even more collaboration opportunities and tools, so it’s a great time to consider a new or upgraded video solution that truly supports all of your success goals. Video in and of itself is a trend unfolding quite quickly in business, and it’s becoming a key part of many departments, from sales and marketing to human resources and customer service.
Choosing Your Perfect Video Conferencing Software
Conduct a Business Review
Before you select your video conferencing solution, it is a great idea to make a list of the specific business needs that are driving your decision to implement a new system or upgrade your existing one. Thinking about the communication barriers or other issues that may be holding your business back will help you gain insight into just how different video conferencing solutions will best fulfill your needs and help you meet your goals.
While you can use video conferencing as a great way to connect with key contacts in a more personal and impactful manner, you can also leverage this system across all departments to enhance its value and infuse video into other aspects of your business. So you should build these things into your business review as well.
You can use video conferencing for enhancing communications, but you can also incorporate it into many other aspects of your business including:
- Customer Service
Questions to Ask to Guide Your Review:
- What communication gaps occur consistently, and what is their impact on your company?
- Are your existing communication tools and systems outdated and cumbersome for employees?
- Are the costs of operating your existing video solution outweighing the benefits you receive?
- What tools and features are must-haves for our company? Which features aren’t as vital?
- How tech savvy are the employees who will use the system most?
- What deployment method makes the most sense for our business and budget?
- How many people will use your video system?
Build Your Video Conferencing Budget
After you’ve conducted a complete review of your business needs and have a strong understanding of your video conferencing requirements, it is important to figure out the budget you can allocate toward purchasing or upgrading your phone system.
Using the list you prepared while reviewing your business needs, you can determine how much value will be created by using a video conferencing system, and prepare your budget accordingly. There are solutions available along a sliding scale of prices that are affordable for most any business, (starting at free) so when you create your budget for this purchase, you should give yourself spending limit as well as a range of pricing models including one-time installation costs or monthly fees. Depending on the size and needs of your company, one type of plan may make more sense financially over the other.
Determine Which Type of Video Conferencing Technology Will Best Suit Your Needs
Video conferencing vendors typically offer an array of different technologies and deployment methods to best meet the size, budget, and needs of your company. While cloud solutions are swiftly gaining popularity, particularly among small and medium companies, larger business still often choose to go with an on-site solution, so they can create a more customized and proprietary solution. Here’s a closer look at the main video conferencing technology options available on the market:
Cloud-based technology is becoming increasingly popular for all types of business software, and video conferencing is no exception. Cloud technology functions through a third-party platform that is powered by the internet, which supports business mobility and remote system access that a flourishing company needs. Cloud video systems are also quite affordable, which gives more companies the opportunity to embrace a video conferencing earlier in their business.
On-premise, or on-site video conferencing solutions are systems that are built on-site in an office building or other physical location. On-premise video conferencing solutions require hardware and ongoing updates and maintenance, which makes implementation more expensive than cloud solutions.
Think About the People in Your Company Who will be Using Your Video Conferencing System
For your video conferencing solution to be a success in your business, your employees will need to embrace it and use it to its full potential. If your system is cumbersome or confusing, many employees may become frustrated and not use it as much as they should. This can hinder your growth, so it’s important to pick a video conferencing that suits the needs of everyone who will using it.
As you think about the video conferencing users in your company, think over these questions to find the best fit for your teams:
- How many users will be using the video conferencing system?
- What levels exist in your users? (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced)
- What are the needs of each group of users?
- What type of support will users need as they learn and use and maximize the potential in your video conferencing?
- What training will my employees need?
Know What to Look for in Your Perfect Video Conferencing Vendor
As you meet with various video conferencing system providers that you’re interested in working with, you should do some due diligence in researching their reputation before you commit to purchasing their services. Some of the key things you should look for in your perfect video conferencing provider are prominence, reviews, and support.
Industry prominence and popularity
While you should not choose a video conferencing provider based on popularity alone, a vendor’s standing in the industry can signal what you can expect from their services. Make sure that the provider you select has prominence in the industry and is popular among other companies with similar needs as yours.
Reviews from current or past system users
One of the best ways you can easily research a video conferencing provider you’re considering is to look for reviews given by current or past users. Reviews from current companies using the video conferencing can give you great insight into how the provider treats customers and how companies value their services and features. Past reviews can establish a history of service values and give you a snapshot into how the provider handles business over time as well.
Video conferencing system support offered
Support is a vital component that all video conferencing system providers will offer. However, the types and degree of support will vary from provider to provider, so make sure you know what level of support your team will need, and then ensure your selected video conferencing vendor can easily fulfil those support needs.
Understand Your Hardware Needs for Your Video Conferencing System
If you choose to implement a cloud-based or hosted video conferencing solution, then you will not require any hardware to get your video conferencing up and running quickly. You’ll just need an up to date computer or mobile device and a high-speed internet connection for the system to function following implementation.
However, if you’re going to be implementing a video conferencing solution on site, you’ll need to plan on investing upfront for hardware, installation, and ongoing maintenance on your system.
Research and Compare Multiple Video Conferencing Providers
Once you have a firm grasp on all the things you need and want from your video conferencing, and understand what you must invest, then you can begin researching and comparing video conferencing vendors.
There are many excellent video conferencing providers on the market, and you’ll undoubtedly be able to find your perfect system if you take a bit of time to really look into what each vendor offers and compare your top choices against one another to determine which is best for you and your business. As you compare your options, make sure to keep your list of key business needs and required features handy so you can reference them and keep yourself on track as you absorb all of the information and create a short list of viable video conferencing options.
Set up Demos and Get Pricing from Video Conferencing Providers on Your Short List
Once you’ve created a short list of three to five video conferencing vendors that you’re interested in implementing, it’s important to take your preparation and research one step further and get in touch with each one. Most providers will happily set up meetings to discuss your video conferencing needs and requirements and can demonstrate all the key features for you.
Before you participate in a meeting or demo with a video conferencing provider, make sure that you refresh your memory on all your business and feature needs. It is also a great idea to provide your lists to the vendor prior to meeting, so they can put together the custom options and pricing they have available that will meet your needs. This will make your time much more efficient, and also give the vendor a clear understanding of exactly what you require.