This story was originally posted on The SHI Blog and has been republished with permission.
Where do you dial into conference calls and meetings from? The conference room, a hotel room, a car, your living room? In the age of smartphones, cheap conference bridges, and “always on” capabilities, it doesn’t really matter, does it?
What does matter is that while we’re supposed to be listening intently on these calls, many of us are working on other tasks, reading and sending emails, maybe even cooking. But the technology that enables meetings from anywhere is now powering a better way to keep employees engaged during those meetings: video conferencing.
Studies show that participants’ average attention span rises to 35 minutes for a video call from 23 minutes for an audio call. And as the workforce shifts to non-traditional office environments (including working from home), video communications give employees a way to interact with clients and colleagues from anywhere using the mobile devices they already own as conferencing access points; of businesses that utilize video communication, 94 percent say it increases productivity.
The video conferencing technologies of 2016 are more refined than yesteryear’s bulky and expensive hardware systems that were relegated to dusty boardrooms. The enterprise video market, which includes video conferencing solutions, will reach $35.6 billion in 2018, up from $11.2 billion in 2015, according to MarketsandMarkets.
That’s thanks to a happy confluence of events that has rendered this cloud-enabled technology easy, cheap, and of exceptionally high quality. Here’s why you should be looking at video conferencing if you’re not already.
The technology that’s grown up
Most companies accept the reality that smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices mean the modern workforce isn’t tied to a specific location. And employees using consumer apps for some work-related tasks are demanding the same functionality — better tools to collaborate, create, and communicate, for example — throughout the workplace. Now those same devices can also make video conferencing as easy as answering emails. With their cameras and video capabilities, they allow employees to tap into video conference rooms — no additional hardware required.
As an easy way to connect, collaborate, and share across all platforms, video conferencing through cloud-based applications allows virtual work groups to connect from every geography. Whether it’s a group of your employees, a working group and a client, a sales team with a prospect, or a potential hire and a hiring manager, all can now meet spontaneously face to face and get work done faster.
Shuttling employees stationed around the globe from office to office via airplane is an expensive and time-wasting proposition that’s increasingly unsustainable. Employees that typically travel for on-site meetings can now video conference in from any device. It eliminates the time and cost of travel, while maintaining collaboration and team building; 87 percent of remote workers develop a deeper connection to their teams and company when video conferencing is used.
Facebook is one example of a company using video communication to maintain its open, intimate, and fast-moving culture. The company found that when employees across the company could see each other in meetings, they enjoyed a much more collaborative environment than with email, chat, and phone calls alone.
Improved security and better connections
Here’s the very good news about video conferencing: Gone are the days of robot-like video conferencing carts. The newest video conferencing technologies are applications that live and operate in the cloud, which allows for easier management of hosting, scheduling, and managing conferences.
That also democratizes the process and opens it up to hardware from all vendors. In other words, one employee on a conference may be using a laptop with a web cam from one vendor, while another is using the camera on her smartphone from another manufacturer. This compatibility across hardware, as well as different video and audio protocol bridges, closes the gap that can plague other free video conferencing services.
As for security, video conferencing meeting rooms and audio can be protected through encryption protocols, randomized meeting IDs and passwords, and locked meeting features. Any conferences stored in the cloud are encrypted as well, and their owners can restrict who has access to them.
Choosing a total solution
As more businesses grasp the benefits of online face-to-face interaction, the adoption of video communication solutions is skyrocketing. Today, secure video communication is no longer a luxury reserved for blue chip companies. From building stronger connections among employees to travel savings, from greater ease of use to better security, video conferencing is increasingly worth a look.