5 Tips for Videoconferencing Success
Is the long-awaited "age of videoconferencing" finally upon us? YES! In our latest study on visual communications and collaboration, Nemertes Research found:
- 45.7% of the roughly 500 participating companies are using room-based videoconferencing systems, with another 30% planning to do so by the end of 2019
- 38% are using desktop videoconferencing, again with another 30% planning for it in the next year and a half
- 71% of company-provided mobile devices (tablets and phones) are configured with video-capable UC clients
In addition, roughly half of those using videoconferencing plan to expand their deployments over the next year, largely driven by employee demand for it. The evidence is clear: Wide-scale use of videoconferencing in the consumer world through apps like Apple FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and WhatsApp is finally translating to demand for video in the enterprise!
Despite this growth, many organizations still struggle with how best to roll out and support videoconferencing, and often find high-definition room systems and software clients going unused or not providing measurable business value. As part of our study, we strove to understand what makes for a successful videoconferencing rollout by correlating factors such as utilization, productivity increases, and self-rated success with technology and operational management choices. Here are the five factors that best correlated with overall videoconferencing success.
- Have the Right Organizational Strategy -- Our study shows wide variance not only in how companies fund videoconferencing but also in how they make vendor and product decisions with respect to meeting services, room hardware, and UC clients. Two factors best correlate with success: when a collaboration team within IT is responsible for funding the solution, and when IT has final authority in picking a solution. We see a variety of reasons for this. First, collaboration groups funding videoconferencing purchases are more likely to do so as part of a broader effort to improve internal and external collaboration. Thus, videoconferencing solutions will be part of an integrated collaboration strategy and not provisioned on a stand-alone basis. By having IT hold ultimate decision-making authority, the organization can ensure that videoconferencing solutions are supportable in terms of network, endpoint, and performance management. A collaboration or AV group picking and deploying a solution without understanding network constraints or the challenges of trying to support desktop videoconferencing in a virtual desktop environment, for example, can be a recipe for disaster.
- Implement a User Awareness and Adoption (UAA) Program -- Rarely do we see videoconferencing use grow virally. Employees are usually reluctant to turn on their cameras unless their managers require them to do so. This is largely do to a perception that videoconferencing, especially for remote workers, is intrusive. It's one thing to text or call a coworker, but quite another to expect them to be presentable for a video call. The best way to overcome these concerns is through a UAA program that starts with training staff in how to use the room systems and applications, as well as on how to adjust lighting and backgrounds to ensure optimal video experiences. Perhaps it also means establishing a culture in which calling into a meeting wearing a t-shirt with a pile of clutter in the background is OK (at least for internal calls). It also means that managers must take the lead in encouraging, or dare I say, mandating, video usage.
- Pay Attention to Analytics -- The business maxim "you can't manage what you can't measure" is especially true of videoconferencing. Absent insight into videoconferencing quality, utilization, and business process improvements, organizations will often fail to see value from their investments. A successful analytics program should start with the basics -- proactive capabilities to manage voice and video quality factors like latency, packet loss, and jitter. With this performance data, IT can identify potential performance problems before the occur, especially for those using videoconferencing over wireless networks, the Internet, and/or on virtual desktops. Beyond that, successful companies measure utilization and develop action plans to increase it. They also look at analytics like number of people per conference, meeting length, percentage of people in a meeting who activate video, and so on. The most advanced companies measure specific business process improvements, like shorter production times, higher close rates, improved customer satisfaction, and so on as a result of videoconferencing use. Obtaining this sort of insight may require investing in third-party analytics tools or managed services to provide information above and beyond that which is available from room system and meeting platform providers.
- Standardize and Integrate -- Study participants that use the same provider for all rooms and dedicated videoconferencing systems within small rooms are more successful than those that mix and match room systems or that rely on a PC/laptop setup for room videoconferencing. More than one IT leader told us horror stories of walking into a meeting room to start a videoconference room only to find that the in-room PC was in the middle of a Windows upgrade, or that the laptop had been downsized to one incapable of supporting high-definition video. Having a standardized environment across all meeting rooms reduces support and training costs.
- Move to the Cloud -- Around 45% of participants already are using cloud-based meeting services for videoconferencing. These platforms typically provide always-available virtual meeting rooms that participants can join from desktop, mobile, or room system, from inside or outside the company. Companies using cloud meeting services report higher utilization and overall better success scores compared with those only using on-premises meeting servers, or attempting to mix on-premises and cloud. But IT leaders, especially in large organizations, did identify one area for which they see the need for an on-premises solution -- and that's for keeping videoconferencing traffic on-net, even if using a cloud service for meeting setup and control.
Taken together, having the right organization, implementing a user awareness and adoption program, focusing on analytics, standardization, and embracing the cloud won't guarantee success, but they will increase the likelihood that your videoconferencing investments will provide tangible, and measurable, business value.
Follow Irwin Lazar on Twitter!