Video conferencing was once the domain of big corporates only but advances in technology and reductions in price now put videoconferencing within the reach of every business. For some the decision is an easy one, but other companies struggle to understand why they would benefit from using video conferencing in their business. In this article we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing to help you make an informed decision.
The advantages of video conferencing
Reduced travel costs
Probably the biggest advantage of using video conferencing is that you can vastly reduce your travel costs. If you frequently travel between offices or you make trips to overseas headquarters then video conferencing can replace almost all those meetings, at the same time reducing your travel budget. Depending on the video conferencing setup you choose you can also deploy video conferencing to hundreds of people quickly. This is ideal if you use outsourced or home-based workers or often travel to meet clients or suppliers.
Increased time and improved productivity
Travelling not only has a fiscal cost; it also takes time – time spent driving, waiting at airports and so on. And whilst you may be able to use some of that time productively, much of it will be lost. One advantage of video conferencing is that you regain that time as you can set up conferences instantly.
Reduced carbon footprint
Governments around the world have set targets for reducing carbon emissions and brought in regulation for businesses to comply with to achieve those targets. Using video conferencing instead of travelling helps you to reduce your carbon footprint and demonstrates your own green credentials.
Global partnering opportunities
One of the less obvious advantages of video conferencing is the increased opportunity for global partnering. If your business has shied away from trading with the international market because of the logistical difficulties, video conferencing could be the answer as it removes distance as an obstacle.
The disadvantages of video conferencing
Cost of equipment and training
For a long time video conferencing equipment has been expensive, and out of the reach of smaller businesses. Now though changes in the way videoconferencing can be delivered bring it within the reach of every company, whatever their budget. While dedicated video conferencing systems are still hefty investments, products like LifeSize ClearSea mean that you can use a range of devices including laptop computers, tablets and smartphones to create and join video conferences quickly and without any training.
International time zones
One of the very real disadvantages of using video conferencing is that if you communicate regularly with people in other countries you will be available at different times to them. Unfortunately without the skills of a time lord there’s not really a practical way to overcome this … but weighing up the cost of regular overseas travel against the inconvenience of conferencing at odd hours would be a useful exercise.
Video conferencing can be less personal than meeting face to face, yes, and it can be possible to miss out on vital body language when you’re struggling with a pixelated image or stuttering video. However, the latest HD video conferencing technology delivers an image so clear that even the subtleties of facial expressions can be seen easily, making video conferencing the next best thing to face to face meetings.