The ability to call someone face-to-face may be useful, but it’s not what video conferencing is all about anymore. In a world where Facebook has become home to a photo-sharing application, instant messaging application, advertising platform, gaming platform and another half-dozen unrelated features, businesses and services are less about offering a single concrete product, and more about evolving their product to fit a pre-existing, vague notion of “experience”.
The definition of that experience is broadening constantly, and in the world of conferencing, it has become to offer business collaboration in a safe, cost-effective and practical way. Because of that, not all conferencing solutions offer the same breadth of services. Some cater to the home and personal use of a family abroad. Others are specifically for enterprises with departments and offices across the continents and oceans.
Some are specifically for IT companies and their need to have an organized project flow – others are more for organizations like museums, hospitals, schools and universities to offer various educational benefits through face-to-face communication, and several other features.
Because of this variety in the industry, the question then presents itself: what kind of services does your business need? What should you really look for in a video conferencing software? What should be a general guideline for all companies, and what services should specific industries and enterprises be looking for?
What Every Quality Platform Needs
Video calling across the board should be the cornerstone feature in a meeting solution, but there are other features that need to be taken into account as well in order to differentiate quality, reputable video conference services such as BlueJeans from free voice-over-Internet protocol platforms for general use.
Here are some features every platform should include:
Cyber-security Measures: As per Swimlane, as many as 169 million personal records were exposed in 2015. No matter whether you’re a small company dealing with the growing pains of being a start-up, or a large corporation – you need proper security measures. Some of them have a lot to do with discipline and proper office practices, such as locking the room to the admin’s PC, changing passwords often (especially when employees become former employees) and being careful with browsing in the office and installing the proper firewalls.
Other measures, however, come from the security capabilities of third-party software that you have to let through your firewall to allow functionality – such as any video conferencing tool. Cyber-crime is no joke, and the least you can do is have a proper encryption in place to keep your hard drives safe, and your data when it travels from your computer through the cloud to another user.
Screen-sharing Capabilities: Screen sharing is great, when it can be done well. By streaming a view of your current desktop, you can easily help clients with the troubleshooting – or alternatively, watch them point out to you what exactly they don’t like about the project or design you’re working on. As part of a basic communication suite in the Internet age, having quality screen-sharing capabilities will save you a lot of time and help you out of quite a few jams.
File-sharing: A final consideration to make for any basic conferencing service is the availability of secure, encrypted file-sharing. Video meetings can be a great time to discuss, plan, and make decisions – and sometimes, that requires moving around and opening a few files. With the growing popularity of the cloud as per Statista (it grew an entire 13 percent last year), file-sharing is basically commonplace.
What Small Businesses Need
Small businesses looking to implement video calling into their business don’t need all the frills and fanciful features that make corporations run smoothly – what they need is quality for less. Cost-effective services is where it’s at for them – and that means running something that can work on a web-based basis without the need for hardware upgrades or even mid-level specs, save for a good mic and camera.
While your local baker might not be interested in video, an IT startup or digital marketing firm looking to expand internationally through the Internet will be in great need of a way to communicate meaningfully with clients all around the world without having to make trips to and from airports.
What Enterprises Need
On the other end of the spectrum, much larger corporations need a much larger service – with a much larger capacity for audience members, voice inputs, video channels and more. That means getting some more heavy-duty software – but it doesn’t have to mean getting dedicated video conferencing hardware. Plenty of services can work with what you currently have and accommodate large conferences through desktop PCs and other devices.
Once you’ve figured out exactly what you need, it’s simply a matter of setting it all into motion by choosing the most reputable service from your shortlist.