With so many organizations either using or implementing video conferencing, the technology is becoming ever-present. Whether an organization is implementing the highest quality immersive telepresence, or rolling out video across iPads and smartphones, someone at some point had to sell their boss on the value of video.

Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation? Here are some tips to make it just a little bit easier to sell the power of video to your superiors.

Teamwork – Selling your boss on the value of video conferencing to connect disparate teams is crucial. Maybe you work with a sales person in Los Angeles, an engineer in Dallas, and a support specialist in Chicago. Connecting the team face-to-face will help make all of you more productive and foster better relationships. This type of increase in productivity will only help to increase the bottom line.

Travel Costs – This is an oldie, but goodie. There is no doubt that organizations save significant dollars on travel once video has been implemented. To make this process easier, see if you can get your hands on the company’s travel expenses from the last few months. If you can’t get that much data, look to your own expenses for travel. Take that number and calculate 25% to show the potential savings video can provide on travel. When presenting this to your boss, point out that 25% could be a conservative number.

Outsmart the Competition – With the rapid communication abilities of video, your company will be able to stay one (or maybe more!) steps ahead of the competition. Whether its responding to a customer issue in the shortest time possible or getting a product to market faster, this type of rapid response is only going to make your company and your boss look good!

Recruiting Top Talent – Remind your boss of the last time he recruited a new sales executive. It started with 10 phone interviews then four were brought in for face to face interviews. When the candidates showed up, none of them had the appearance or polish of a sales rep. It almost seemed like there was a different person on the phone! With video, the first interview can occur visually, making it easier to find the right candidate sooner.

There are many more ways to sell your boss. If you are in a particular niche industry (healthcare, legal) there are very specific use cases to present as well. But if you begin with the four points above, you will be well on your way to selling your boss.

Shopping can be therapeutic. From browsing clothing chains for the latest fashions to searching for the right tools in do-it-yourself hardware stores, the act of shopping can be relaxing and even fun. Sometimes we shop for things we don’t need because we like the experience; the layout of the store, the decor, or a courteous staff member.

In challenging economic times, brick-and-mortar retailers face more competition than ever, so the pressure is on to stand out from the crowd and get customers back in the door. To get an edge, some retailers are turning to video conferencing solutions on the sales floor or behind the scenes to improve customer service, assist in merchandise management, and enhance internal communication.

Video conferencing, when paired with a cloud-based managed service, creates realistic, in-person meeting experiences that translate well to the retail environment. Retail is all about the face-to-face, personalized exchanges that cannot be replicated with online shopping or catalogs. Video improves the in-store customer and employee experiences in the following ways:

Access to remote staff – A customer in a consumer electronics store may have a question about a new computer software application that can best be answered by an expert in a remote location. Or, the details of a product may need further clarification, but in a different language. Video is the ideal way for customers to get the right answer right away, while not having to leave the store’s premises, or engage in an impersonal audio call with a call center. In addition, the store saves money by not retaining specialized employees at each physical location.

Inventory management – When video is used among employees at disparate corporate locations, internal communication is greatly enhanced. One of the most delicate and important components of any successful retail establishment is an effective strategy for inventory control – keeping the right balance of products in stock at all times. With face-to-face communication among the staff at warehouses, corporate locations and store sites facilitated, there is a real opportunity to create an efficient inventory strategy, and store revenue may increase as a result.

Store connectivity –Employee turnover is a major concern for retailers. In addition, operational efficiencies can make or break any major chain or even mom and pop shop. Video can be used to effectively improve store operations and relations by creating in-person meeting experiences that unite a diverse and dynamic employee base. In addition, video can be used within and between retail branch locations to facilitate team meetings and create new employee incentive programs. Video also can provide headquarters with faster access to sales reports and employee information.

The right video conferencing solution can provide immeasurable benefits to retail establishments looking to gain a competitive advantage and attract customers. When video calls are managed by a third-party that specializes in making video equipment easy to use, the investment in technology quickly pays for itself with the revenue from happy customers that enjoy shopping in your store and keep coming back for their quick shopping fix.

Would You Like Fries with Your Video Call?

Sample advertising in a Skype call

Late last week Skype announced Conversation Ads within their calling window. The ads will start appearing only in 1:1 audio calls but Skype has already mentioned additional “commercial experiences” in the future. So advertising during Skype video calls is certainly a possibility. Although, for paid customers, it appears the ads will not be present.

Skype is a fantastic application, great for linking family and friends, as well as easily pulling in remote employees into video meetings. But, do you want to build your organization’s entire strategy behind it? Improved bandwidth and cameras have helped blur the lines between Skype calls and business video calls; and at times, they can be indistinguishable.

But when Skype decides to make a big change, like building advertising into calls, it can cause all sorts of issues. Do you want the CEO of your company taking a video call with an advertisement for maple syrup?  I don’t think so!

The key to Skype, is using it to compliment your business video environment. If you have implemented Polycom, Cisco, Lifesize, Radvision, or some other technology, a cloud service can provide the link between those higher-end business calls and Skype. It is important to maintain those solutions and use them for business critical meetings. Skype should be used sparingly!

In situations where remote participants are looking to connect from a mobile device (iPad, Smartphone) or from a remote location, Skype makes perfect sense. The best way to think about these meetings is to focus on the fact that the reach of the meeting is more important than achieving the highest audio and video quality. We’ve seen clients running a fully managed meeting in their boardroom and a remote participant connecting via Skype from the Middle East. It was important for this person to be seen and heard in the call; the fact that he/she was able to connect at all was enough.

The consumerization of IT is apparent from the largest to smallest companies. As these companies embrace it and encourage employees to BYOD (bring your own device), Skype is going to continue to be more and more prevalent. Embracing it as a complimentary technology will not only make managing Skype easier, but will provide users with additional avenues to collaborate with their co-workers.

Here we are on the Friday before Father’s Day. In this case, it’s my first Father’s Day as a dad. My son was born just a few months ago and I have to say, it’s pretty amazing being a dad. I have learned so many things since the little guy was born!

  1. Changing a little boy’s diaper requires you to be far more agile than I ever realized.
  2. Diapers are not as foolproof as once thought.
  3. Eight hours of continuous sleep is about as likely to happen as winning the lottery.

Despite these lessons, it has been an absolutely amazing time. What I really didn’t expect though, was how video collaboration would work its way into these early days of parenting. Recently a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, was home watching his recently born child. Said friend was not as “active” of a participant in child care as one would hope and on this particular day his wife was out with friends.

At around 2pm my phone beeps with a text. “Are you around? Help!” I quickly pick up the phone and call him. Apparently, my friend is unable to figure out the finer points of a diaper change. Really? Apparently his wife always handles it and he didn’t think to ask when she went out. So I say, let me show you.  I fire up my iPad and connect to him via video. He’s on his smartphone and I quickly show him (with my son as a model) how to appropriately change a diaper. Crisis averted. Or so I thought.

About an hour later, he calls me back on video. “What about bottles?” Again, I’m dumbfounded.  And because I’m somewhat of a mean guy, I decide I need to share his incompetence with another friend.  So I quickly set-up a cloud meet-me room so the three of us can all meet over video and my other friend can see just how desperate this guy is.  Ha. I’m terrible, I know.  We successfully help him through the bottle and the crisis ends, again.

In all seriousness, it was amazing how video permeated through a casual Saturday at home. It made me realize just how ubiquitous this technology is becoming. I believe the key lesson learned here, for me anyway, is that video gives you the power to stay connected with business colleagues, family, and friends while providing the means of making fun of those you love most!

Happy Father’s Day!

Cloud video conferencing providers are popping up everywhere, each one promising the best service with the best features. Comparing all of the different offerings can become quite overwhelming. How do you determine which company is the best fit for your organization? Here are a few things to help narrow down the options:

Expertise: Video environments consist of several different components; endpoints, infrastructure, desktop software clients, tablets and complete audio visual integrated rooms. Look for service provider with a wide range of expertise which allows them to assist with all aspects of your video environment. This eliminates the frustrating finger-pointing when you are having an issue with one of the components.

Adaptability: An organization’s initial video needs typically differ significantly from its future video needs; therefore, select a video service provider that has a wide range of offerings. This helps build a comprehensive video environment and enables the solution to adapt to an organization’s changing needs.

Experience: The best type of experience comes from running a true production environment for a customer. A service provider might have a strong background in monitoring network activity and hardware, but have they managed the day-to-day operations of a corporation’s video environment?

Security: Sensitive data is continuously transmitted during video meetings; therefore, a service provider’s security measures are paramount to ensure this data is not intercepted. The network should be encrypted in addition to containing firewalls. Furthermore, non-disclosure agreements should accompany any comprehensive managed video service.

Attitude: Most likely, you will have a very close relationship with your video service provider; therefore, selecting a company with a customer oriented attitude is important. The best service providers realize that every organizations needs are different and will customize their offerings to best fit their needs.

While only you can determine which service provider is right for your organization; these tips can help provide a foundation for the selection process.