The benefits of video conferencing for remote working are well understood, such as enabling a wider talent pool and increasing productivity and employee happiness1. But there are other business benefits too. For example, in a recent study2 of 1,152 video conferencing users, 71% agreed that video conferencing strengthened customer relationships, while almost 60% said it improved the sales process too. This is where dedicated video conferencing hardware comes in.
Given these compelling advantages, video conferencing is something that your business can’t afford to ignore, but how do you integrate it effectively so as to reap the rewards?
The good news is that getting started with video conferencing costs nothing, and simply requires that you have a device with a camera and microphone, which covers pretty much every modern laptop, tablet or 2-in-1 device. The only other element required is the software and even here the entry-level options are free.
Video conferencing software
Zoom topped the poll for the most popular video conferencing app in the study mentioned earlier, but there are many other options, including Skype for Business, Slack and the excellent Google Hangouts, the majority of which are free, at least for the entry-level tier.
Taking Zoom as the example, you can sign up for free and hold video conferences with up to 100 participants, including features such as screen-sharing and breakout rooms, without having to pay a penny. For more advanced features, such as a greater number of participants, cloud recordings of meetings, usage reports and so on, the next tier upstarts from £11.99 per month per host, which is highly affordable. So why would you ever consider anything more than this, or even paying at all?
Software-only solutions – selling yourself short
When making a decision on the best solution for your business, it’s important to consider the reason why video conferencing is such an increasingly popular tool, which is that it enables for face-to-face collaboration without the need to travel. However, for this to be effective, the experience has to be as good as being there in person, or as close to it as possible, otherwise, the benefits are negated, or could even work against you.
For example, if you set up a video conference with a client using your laptop and the free tools available, consider whether you’re presenting (literally) the best impression of yourself and your company. Laptop webcams and microphones are often far from high-quality devices, capturing fuzzy, dim images, and audio that sounds like it was recorded in the 1950s for an episode of Doctor Who. And, due to their location on the top of the screen, laptop webcams rarely capture you at your best, especially if the laptop is placed on a desk. After all, it’s unlikely that your client or prospect wants to stare up your nose while you deliver your killer pitch.
Presenting the best impression
It’s for this reason that dedicated video conferencing hardware solutions offer tremendous advantages over a software-only approach because they enable far higher-quality conferences that better replicate the benefits of face-to-face meetings.
The ASUS Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit is a great example of a powerful solution that enhances every aspect of your meeting, helping to drive the business benefits of video conferencing. It includes a compact ASUS Chromebox 3 computer to power your meetings, plus a camera, speakerphone and touch-screen control panel to simplify management. It’s a convenient bundle that provides everything you need, but it’s the advantages that the hardware brings to the conference table that really matter.
For example, the camera in the Hangouts Kit is a 4K UHD device with a wide 120-degree field of view, which uses machine learning techniques to focus on active participants and eliminate dead space. Active participants are framed and remain in sharp-focus thanks to the UHD sensor resolution, allowing for the all-important non-verbal communication3 cues to come across clearly – no more fuzzy videos that focus on the wall behind you.
However, looking great doesn’t matter if you still sound like an underwater Dalek. So, this is where the Meet Speakermic comes in. With echo-cancellation and noise-suppression technology built-in, each meeting participant can be heard clearly, and additional Speakermics can be daisy-chained together for larger rooms. If you’ve ever been on a conference where participants and hosts have to constantly ask for people to repeat themselves because of echoey or unclear audio, then the benefit of dedicated hardware should need no further explanation.
Go hardware or go into the office instead
Video conferencing is about delivering an environment that enables effective collaborations between teams in remote locations and client meetings that accurately replicate the benefit of face-to-face communication, without the expense of travel. The key words here are ‘effective’ and ‘accurately’, because without high-quality video and audio, and a seamless control system, your video conferences could be more detrimental than beneficial.
Software-only solutions are cheap, or even free, and have a place for simple meetings. But to truly reap the substantial rewards of video conferencing requires a dedicated video conferencing hardware configuration, which will pay for itself many times over in terms of the value it will add to your business.
To learn more about ASUS video-conferencing solutions, click here.