Guide. Video Conferencing for Small Business

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1 Guide Video Conferencing for Small Business

2 Contents Introduction... 3 What is video conferencing?... 4 What type of video conferencing systems are available?... 5 Why your business needs video conferencing... 7 How to choose the right video conferencing service... 8 Further information... 9 Page 2 of 9

3 Introduction Staying in touch with customers, clients and developing integrated communications for your business s workforce is vital for any business. Thanks to advanced mobile digital devices, superfast broadband and low-cost HD video cameras, using video conferencing in even the smallest business is now a practical and cost-effective proposition. The question asked by many small business owners is will their investment in video conferencing give a good return? According to research carried out by online meeting provider LyteSpark, businesses across the UK could save on average, 27,000 a year on business trips. Alex Hunte, co-founder of online meeting platform, LyteSpark says: Videoconferencing is a key tool that can ensure businesses remain profitable, maximise their resources, maintain productivity and contribute towards the health and wellbeing of employees. State-of-the-art online meeting platforms are no longer clumsy and complex. They are now designed to be intuitive, ensuring they are merely an extension of day-to-day communications. Nobody has to wait days or weeks to discuss pressing matters which can now be resolved or actioned within minutes. Today there are many video conferencing systems to choose from. This guide will give your business a complete overview of the systems available, and how to make the most of the service you decide to buy. Page 3 of 9

4 What is video conferencing? Being able to hold face-to-face meetings in real-time with a smartphone, tablet, or desktop PC is now possible thanks to services such as Skype, Apple s FaceTime and Google Hangouts. Video conferencing is also now a central component of what is known as Unified Communications (UC). UC integrates several communication channels such as telephony, video and text-based messaging together to offer any business a choice of communications systems to use. Using video conferencing could offer huge savings particularly with travel costs, which continue to rise year-on-year. Small businesses could reap the benefits of video conferencing, as this empowers their workforces to increase their efficiency video conference meetings are now as simple to set up as making a phone call. Video conferencing could also enhance the communications of your business. Voice calls don t enable your staff to read the non-verbal communication exchanges that occur with face-to-face meetings. If your business trades locally or globally, video conferencing could enable your business to make closer and more lucrative connections with customers and business partners, as face-to-face meetings are a powerful marketing tool. Page 4 of 9

5 What type of video conferencing systems are available? There are several types of video conferencing system to choose from. Many businesses will use a mixture of these to offer their employees the most flexibility when communicating with colleagues, customers or commercial partners. Video Chat Services Fast, easy to set up and often free, your business could begin to use video chat today. Some of the leading services to consider include: Skype for Business Skype is the best-known video conferencing service. Now part of Microsoft, if your business also uses Office 365, you can easily integrate video conferencing into your other Office applications. Skype for Business enables you to schedule video meetings from within Outlook for instance, and then seamlessly switch to the video conference when you are ready to hold your meeting. Facebook Messenger This video chat service is also highly popular. You are limited to six people in the video meeting, but up to 50 other people can join via voice. Google Hangouts This is another free service to anyone with a Gmail or Google+ account. You can use text or video to communicate with up to ten people. WeChat WeChat is similar to Google Hangouts but does limit your meeting to nine participants. Talky This video chat service is highly popular due to its ease of use and fast set-up. All you need is a web browser and a camera-equipped device to hold the meeting, which can consist of up to 15 people. Page 5 of 9

6 Video Conferencing Services If your business needs to hold more formal video conferences, the free video chat services may not be suitable. Here, fully-featured video conferencing services are more appropriate. Some of the leading vendors include: LyteSpark This is a completely hosted service in the cloud, which means your business doesn t have to download, install or maintain any software. All you need is a web browser. You can also lock the virtual room you have created for your video conference for added security. WebEx One of the most well-known video conferencing systems. Aimed at larger businesses, the integration with Microsoft Office is seamless offering all the features any business could need. GoToMeeting This is a middle-weight video conferencing service that offers small businesses a full-featured service. You will have to buy the Plus version to use the virtual whiteboard feature built into the system. Join.me As one of the latest video conferencing systems to appear, Join.me completely removes any technical barriers to users making it ideal for small businesses. Share documents and schedule meetings easily within Microsoft Office 365, and integration with new communications tools such as Slack are built in. BlueJeans BlueJeans has been developing its services for several years and now offers a comprehensive video conferencing service that offers the flexibility that some small businesses need. Businesses with office-based and remote workers will appreciate the flexibility on offer. Page 6 of 9

7 Why your business needs video conferencing There are many key reasons to add video conferencing to your business including: Increased productivity holding face-to-face meetings without having to leave the office is a great bonus especially for smaller businesses. Reduced costs how much does your business spend on travel? Your business could dramatically reduce its costs by using video chat or video conferencing services. Competitive advantage just as the first businesses to use fax machines and then were able to gain an advantage over their competitors, video conferencing is now not just for larger businesses to take advantage of. Flexible working today your business must be agile. With a workforce that could include office-based staff, home workers and roaming employees, you could connect them all together with video conferencing. Business continuity remember the ash cloud in 2010 that grounded 100,000 flights? What other disasters could befall your business? Having robust and comprehensive communications that simply need an Internet connection could keep your business trading, when others struggle to cope. Few technologies could have such a profound impact on your business as video conferencing. Chosen carefully, installed and used with other communications tools, video conferencing could open new opportunities for your company. Page 7 of 9

8 How to choose the right video conferencing service With so many video conferencing systems available, use this checklist to ensure you buy the right service for your business. 1. Simple technology the video conferencing system you choose should be easy to set up and use. Today this means using cloud-based services. Often all you need to do is log into your account using any Internet-connected device to start a video call or meeting. 2. Easily scalable think about not only what you want to use video conferencing for today, but how your business s needs might change. Look for a system that can expand as your business does. 3. Look for hidden costs some video conferencing services offer a low-cost start, but could require your business to buy their premium service to unlock more essential services. Look at the total cost of the features your business needs before you buy. 4. Solid security as most of the video conferencing services will use the cloud, look closely at how they handle security. Don t forget, your video calls could contain highly sensitive information that must be protected. 5. Interoperability look for a video conferencing system that can communicate with other leading office services. For instance, can you schedule meetings within Microsoft Outlook, or Google Calendar? Can you share documents in a wide range of formats with everyone on the video call or in the video conference? 6. Your IT systems high quality and reliable video conferencing relies upon robust Internet connections and a fast office network. Your business s internal networks may need to be upgraded, so too might your connection to the Internet. 7. Test your systems before you roll out your system across your entire business, test it with a few employees working on-site and remotely. This will instantly show you whether your networks can handle the service and allow you to gain feedback about whether the system is easy to use and delivers the advantages you had hoped it would. Using video conferencing could transform not only your internal communications, but also how your business connects with its customers and commercial partners. Where the phone and made dramatic changes to how businesses communicate, video conferencing is the communications channel for businesses that want to thrive in the 21st Century. Page 8 of 9

9 Further information How Cloud is Changing the Video Conferencing Equation: Act Now to Gain a Competitive Advantage Top 5 Best Video Conferencing Services Top Eight Reasons Why Your Business Needs Video Conferencing Page 9 of 9

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