The last few years have seen a rise in the popularity of video conferencing for businesses, with the video conferencing market projected to expand by over 11% annually until 2028. In the past, this technology required significant resources and was only available to larger organizations. However, with video conferencing technology becoming more powerful and accessible, smaller organizations are using it as part of their daily operations.
From eCommerce businesses to PropTech companies, video conferencing has become a popular tool in the arsenal of many organizations. This guide will explain video conferencing and how your startup can implement it effectively.
Video conferencing is an online meeting involving at least two people in different physical locations communicating via video link. It enables effective communication regardless of physical distance.
If, for instance, you’re a UK-based company but have clients in the US, video conferencing will allow them to call internationally from the US to contact you as though you were in the same room.
Video conferencing is used in various industries and for several purposes, from conference calls for law firms to job interviews in other sectors.
Internet-enabled devices such as laptops, PCs, smartphones, and tablets enable video conferencing. There can be multiple different types of devices connected to one meeting.
There are plenty of reasons why video conferencing has become so popular for organizations. Below are a few notable benefits.
There are many costs of doing business, from travel to healthcare to NZ domain name registration. While not all costs can be reduced or eliminated, some can—and video conferencing can enable this.
A video call can be significantly cheaper than a phone call, which can often incur high costs, especially when overseas. Video conferencing also often eliminates the need for face-to-face meetings, which can incur significant travel costs, room booking, and more.
The ability for employees to work from home, which video conferencing plays a significant role in providing, does more than just save on travel expenses.
The home working boom has enabled organizations in many sectors to make hiring decisions solely based on candidates’ expertise and qualifications, rather than choosing from a smaller pool of candidates within commuting distance of the office. It is also more environmentally friendly than requiring employees to use transportation to work every day.
When it comes to conveying information, video is particularly effective. For example, if you are trying to explain to someone something complex like a Spark RDD, it probably will be easier to demonstrate visually than to talk them through it. It saves time on explaining processes and sharing information effectively.
The screen-sharing capabilities of video conferencing platforms are valuable for this. Any participant can simply click a button to share their screen, and every other participant will instantly be able to see their screen.
Not only does visual information increase our understanding (e.g., explainer videos can convey information more effectively than audio or written text), but it also increases our levels of engagement. This is especially true for meetings, where seeing coworkers’ facial expressions and body language increases our feelings of connection and our ability to communicate and collaborate effectively, compared with audio-only meetings.
Although there are numerous benefits of video conferencing, it can come with some challenges.
Any technology that relies on an internet connection is susceptible to technical issues, and video conferencing is no exception. If one person’s connection drops, they can lose access to the call, and if the host’s connection drops the call can be shut down entirely.
To overcome this, understand bandwidth requirements and ensure all employees have reliable access to high-speed internet. Other issues with video conferencing platforms can be solved by contacting the vendor’s customer support team.
While video conferencing platforms can run effectively on most smartphones, laptops, and other devices, there may be additional costs if you are looking for a higher quality call. For example, using high-definition cameras and high-quality microphones can be expensive.
Some people report that video conferencing calls suffer from a lack of “human connection” when compared to in-person meetings. While you can see and hear your coworkers, doing this through a screen is usually less familiar than being in the same room.
This can be an inevitable effect of communicating remotely, although the practical advantages of video meetings often outweigh the reduced “human touch.” Many organizations opt for occasional in-person meetings to foster a feeling of community while using video conferencing for more routine meetings.
To use video conferencing, each employee will need at least the following:
- A device with a fast and reliable internet connection
- A video conferencing tool installed and configured on that device
- A quiet space free of disturbances
- A link (or phone number) to connect to the meeting
The following can also be beneficial if they are within your budget:
- A large screen (or even a multi-screen setup)
- High-quality webcams
- High-quality microphones
There are two main types of video conferencing: point-to-point conferencing and multipoint conferencing.
Point-to-point conferencing is when two people in different locations communicate via video call. Common examples include job interviews, customer support, and other one-on-one meetings such as employee performance reviews.
Multipoint conferencing is when more than two people in different locations communicate via video call. Common examples include team meetings (for example, if you are discussing customer lifetime value or other topics important to your organization) and webinars (where the host typically demonstrates something while viewing participants are muted until the end of the demonstration).
The technology behind video conferencing is called VoIP (or Voice over Internet Protocol). You may have heard of a VoIP call center or other organizations that use this technology.
VoIP uses algorithms to transfer audio and visual signals between devices. When a call is active and any connected microphones and/or cameras are enabled, these microphones or cameras capture signals, which are then coded by the VoIP algorithm. These codes are then transmitted to decoders at the receiving end, which instantly convert these codes to analog audio and video signals.
If your business needs to make calls regularly, choosing the right VoIP service will help you cut landline costs.
Most video conferencing platforms include some or all of the following features:
When call recording is enabled, participants can record video meetings to watch them back later. This is often used so people can revisit meetings to check information or so that people who missed the meeting can catch up.
Screen sharing enables participants to transmit their screens to other participants. This can be used in situations where real-time visual demonstrations are required, such as in a coaching call.
Chat boxes are used to send instant messages, either to specific other participants or to everybody on the call. This allows questions to be asked without interrupting speakers. Many platforms allow participants to save chat logs.
Secure file sharing between participants is a built-in feature of many video conferencing platforms.
Sometimes you may need to switch to a new device (e.g., from PC to mobile phone) in the middle of a conference call. Many platforms enable participants to do this without interrupting the meeting.
There can be a surprising amount of background noise picked up even from quiet rooms when on a conference call. Many platforms have built-in software that reduces sounds outside of the frequency range of human speech so speakers can be heard more clearly.
While the concept of transmitting live audio and video over a wire dates back to the 1870s, webcams did not become common until the 1990s. The advent of broadband internet in the 2000s was another turning point in the road to modern video conferencing, and today there are plenty of web-based video conferencing tools.
Although webcams have been used to communicate over the internet since the 1990s, it took until well into the 2000s for average connection speeds to reach a level where video conferencing was convenient and efficient enough for most business purposes. These days, video conferencing is more accessible and faster than ever, and this is largely responsible for the boom in remote working over the last few years.
Video conferencing looks set to continue to improve. Video and audio quality are rapidly improving, with 4K video calls starting to become more common. Platforms and apps are also likely to become more intuitive as video conferencing becomes more ubiquitous.
Integration with tools such as translation, transcription, and productivity apps is likely to increase. Encryption protocols are also becoming more and more secure, removing security and privacy risks.
If you want your startup to make plenty of money, investing in the right tools and resources is essential. Video conferencing platforms can be of massive benefit to organizations in various sectors and are rapidly becoming an unavoidable part of doing business today.