Three out of five UK SMBs say they’ll be introducing video conferencing within the next five years, a third are using it already (according to a recent poll by research company IDC). So what’s it all about? Here’s my very short guide to the why, why now and how of video conferencing for small businesses.
Why video conferencing?
Introducing video conferencing can have immediate effects on your bottom line. But maybe more importantly for the small and proud businesses out there, it allows you to be more ambitious – about your service levels, your radius of action, your talent wish list.
5 good reasons to give it a go:
1. Reduce travel cost and time: As a small business, your and your staff’s time is particularly precious, not to mention the pure cost of travelling. Smart businesses travel to meetings when it’s absolutely necessary and use technology like video conferencing for effective and frequent contact with partners, customers and colleagues.
2. Improve customer and partner relationships: Time not spent travelling can be invested in more regular, virtual face-to-face meetings. Video conferencing reduces the cost of “just having a quick chat”.
3. Work more effectively as a team: Small businesses nowadays often are agile, flexible networks of great people. Video conferencing lets you cut through longwinded e-mail conversations and connect quickly with colleagues for a face-to-face conversation – wherever you are. Sharing documents and presentations on screen makes it even easier to collaborate remotely.
4. Look further for opportunities: If your ambitions have been restricted by geography, video conferencing might finally unleash your full potential. It allows you to look beyond your local area for customers, suppliers, partners and talent. In short, you can go global without being global.
5. Punch above your weight: Your small business might have something very special to offer, more than your size may betray. Video conferencing allows you to look and act like a bigger business – especially important if you’re starting to swim in a bigger pond.
Until recently, video conferencing used to be technology for corporates – those who could afford dedicated network connections, expensive hardware and whole rooms equipped just for video calls.
For smaller businesses and cost-effective everyday video collaboration, web conferencing was invented. It runs on PCs via the internet, using webcam, microphone and speakers, and often includes additional features, such as document and presentation sharing.
This has finally made professional video collaboration affordable for SMBs.
If you’ve ever resorted to consumer applications and private video call accounts to quickly do a business call, then web conferencing is for you. It’ll allow you to look professional and enjoy reliable, boardroom quality video conferences without hassle or upfront investment.
The best way in is to just try it. You don’t have to start with an important presentation or a customer introduction – a weekly catch-up with a colleague who works from home could be a good starting point.
Free trials are currently available from Brother for its new OmniJoin web conferencing software. http://webconferencing.brother.co.uk/try-now
Guest blog: Richard Thomas, Product Planning Manager at Brother International Europe.
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