The LifeSize system cost about $30,000, which was $10,000 less than other solutions, LifeSize claims. Savings in reduced travel costs for 150 staff paid for the system within a year.
Claringbold says videoconferencing units that are marooned in dedicated rooms are often ignored as people would rather use their phones.
One option is to use portable units that can be moved to where they are needed. “Resellers are attracted to our solution because of the easy deployment. And most importantly, it does not use a lot of bandwidth.”
Travel fades as chief driver
Stories of saving money by reducing travel are common justifications for videoconferencing. Cisco TelePresence was used for global architectural and design firm Woods Bagot to collaborate on projects based on expertise, not location. All its clients needed
is a video camera. In one year it saved $440,000 in travel costs alone, and now considers itself to be a more environmentally sustainable company.
However, an important part of the technology’s growth is that business usage cases of video conferencing are diversifying beyond travel.
Education is big, says Cisco’s Hughes. “Education uses videoconferencing for access to expertise around the world, where students can get the face to face (experience) without travelling.
- Upgrade software. For instance, LifeSize Video Center just announced the new software upgrade to VC1.2 which means customers can do e-learning modules or read broadcast messages on the road via their mobile device (iPhone, iPad etc).
- Upgrade to standards-based, high-definition video. This means any investment today can leverage future solutions and doesn’t need to be replaced.
- Upgrade the network. Companies that take on high definition videoconferencing often require network upgrades as well. This creates the potential to earn more services work for resellers. Upgrade ISDN networks to IP (90 percent of all deployments are IP now), and where there is IP, upgrade bandwidth to support calls as necessary.
- Install a video bridge. This means organisations use the bandwidth they need to make any type of call rather than having a fixed allocation for each type. They can upgrade the infrastructure and video endpoints and still use existing systems.
- Connect to applications. Integrating video conferencing into your applications lets you do things like initiate a call from a chat session and turn it into a video call on your video- deskphone.
- Managed or hosted services. These can reduce spending on equipment while outsourcing technical responsibility and upkeep.
“It’s used in corporate communications. A CEO can use a videoconferencing system and record a two- minute corporate speech that can be streamed out live on the internet or archived. Corporate events use it for experts live on stage for a two-way conversation with conference audience. The health industry has access to a remote doctor over the video,” Hughes says.
It’s important that a videoconferencing system is easy to use. “The recent drama and tragedy in New Zealand showed how easy it is to use our system. Emergency groups used a camera in their PC to quickly establish videoconferencing,” Hughes says.
Content is king for small to medium organisations, says Tom Morgan, chief executive officer of unified communications reseller eVideo Communications.
For example: “Fitness First personal trainers use video to make a personalised one-hour video. I could be overseas and could dial in – put in my pin number in and view a video made just for me.”