Video conferencing is becoming more and more welcomed in the business space. Smaller organizations with cost restrictions are benefiting from the improved reliability of free video conferencing programs like Skype and Google Video Chat while other companies are embracing enterprise-level telepresence technologies due to their superior features like interoperability with other communication tools, HD quality broadcasts, and customizability. In short, there are many different video conferencing options out there and businesses are taking advantage and realizing some benefits.
Save on Travel Expenses
A recent study by Telework Exchange estimates that the U.S. federal government could save $5 billion annually by replacing some face-to-face meetings and conferences with video conferencing solutions – an estimated 30% of the $15 billion spent on conference travel by the federal government each year. And with cost cutting a top priority for most businesses today, any opportunity to lower expenses by 30% is likely to be enthusiastically welcomed by management. Depending on the cost of rolling out a video conferencing solution, a positive ROI can be achieved rapidly – even in a just a few weeks.
Additionally, reduced travel results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions – up to 50% according to a 2011 study. Whether organizations who advertise their travel cutbacks as evidence of their environmental consciousness should be considered greenwashers is another topic of discussion, however. Nevertheless, a reduction in miles traveled has direct positive benefits for the environment.
Build Stronger Relationships
Video conferencing can build stronger relationships internally with staff and externally with customers by adding a personal touch that can’t be replicated through email. Researchers from the University of Michigan studied different ways of connecting and found advantages to video communication. “Video conferencing may be as good as face-to-face for building trust,” wrote the research team. They found that “video was indistinguishable from face-to-face, and both were significantly better than text chat.”
Working in cross-regional teams can be challenging due to the lack of face-to-face interactions. With research indicating that 93% of communication cues are nonverbal, correspondence conducted through email, chat, or on the phone can be ineffective.
“Body language is important,” says Cisco Operations Manager Al Navas. “It's helpful to the person giving a presentation to be able to see their audience and their reaction to what is being said." What’s more, videoconferencing reduces misunderstandings and makes staying focused easier for participants. As such, individuals work together more effectively and are able to complete tasks at a faster pace.
Gain a Competitive Advantage
The benefits of video conferencing offer businesses a distinct competitive advantage. As was mentioned above, dispersed teams can work more effectively, therefore reducing time to market for products. Once the product leaves the design stage and is market-ready, salespersons can leverage video conferencing technologies to build trust and form relationships that are more impactful. Additionally, the quantity of such relationships increases as members of the sales team have more time to engage with clients since traveling to face-to-face appointments can be done less frequently. The overall result is a company whose employees are more efficient, more effective, and better equipped to do business in 2013.
Have you used video conferencing at your work? Tweet us @NapkinBetaBeyond and let us know the pros and cons you found when using such technologies.