Monday, 22 October 2012

The Face Of Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is going down in price and up in quality. Could your company benefit from this cost-saving, environmentally friendly alternative to business trips?


The video conferencing market is growing. Teaching institutions, health care facilities, home-run businesses and corporate businesses are all benefitting from it. In economically unstable times, it is an attractive  alternative to expensive business trips, an alternative which managers can't ignore. And thanks to the Internet, the technology is coming down in price whilst improving in quality, allowing the market to flourish. Leading brands such as LifeSize and Polycom have been working on the technology for years to make issues such as unreliable connections and delayed images a thing of the past, and they have been largely successful.

Some suggest that this is bad news for the industry, that video conferencing devalues a business meeting. There are no handshakes and there's less chance of effective non-verbal communication, such as eye contact and hand gestures. Additionally, with any technology employed - especially where less of an investment is made by a business - technical difficulties can sometimes occur. In the unlikely event a connection is lost during a conference or equipment is not operating as it should be, immediate technical assistance will need to be on hand. The conference speaker is unlikely to be a trained technician as well the managing director of his or her firm. As a consequence they may well be anxious, losing the conviction they would have in a real conference room. But there will always be a learning curve with any new technology, just as there would be
when upgrading software or new employees start in a company. These issues are there to be dealt with and ironed out so that in the long term, the company will benefit from a new way of doing business. Some argue that video conferencing is an imperative technology and it's development is one of the most pressing matters in business today. It saves on transport costs, eliminates hotel costs, reduces environmental impact, increases
productivity and above all, it saves time. More often than not, clients will be able to spare an hour for a video conference but won't be able to give up their day travelling to a meeting. The nature of the meeting or conference obviously dictates which is the most appropriate form of communication, but with a video option available, unnecessary costs will be kept down to a minimum.

The trade off

Video conferencing is not as effective as a face to face meeting when it comes down to the hard sell; striking that deal and sealing it with a handshake. But it is an economically viable and environmentally friendly option - one which there will be always be a market for- so it is a good idea to research options and expand your business with this technology. Whether you're interested in saving time, saving money, or reducing your carbon footprint, video conferencing could well be a step in the right direction for your company.

Click here to enquire about video conferencing

The Voice Of Audio Conferencing

Save time and money

Audio conferencing allows you to be in several places at once; working from your office at home, conducting a meeting in the boardroom or striking a deal with a client on the other side of the world. With travelling no longer a necessity, everyone involved in the audio conference has more time to spend productively instead of waiting for trains, planes or automobiles. Time is saved, less money is spent and more goals are accomplished.

To join an audio conference, participants typically call a toll-free number, verify their entrance code and enter a virtual room where customers, clients and managers in different locations can converse as though they were sitting in the same office. Advanced systems from the likes of Konftel and Polycom can automatically record conferences, schedule calls, mute or un-mute participants and dial out to other parties during calls. The latter example is particularly useful in call centre scenarios. For example, when a customer requires technical assistance a sales person is unable to provide, the sales person can dial out to a technical advisor and bring them into the call. Without audio conferencing and only one line available, the customer would be passed around or left waiting and their experience would be less than satisfactory.

Is it worth stepping up?

In the business world, investing in audio conferencing technology has obvious financial incentives, but what about making the 'step-up' to video conferencing? Is it worth it? If money saved on travel costs does not outweigh the hefty investment made on equipment, then the answer is no. But doesn’t the video element put forward a slick, professional image for the company? The notion that video conferencing creates a more affluent business purely because face to face dealings are more effective is debatable. Face to face meetings will on occasion be more preferable for those involved, but the advantages of being able to see the people you're doing business with can't truly be measured against the personable, persuasive skills of those who only have access to audio conferencing. A conference will only be worthwhile if participants communicate with each other effectively, and video conferencing will not necessarily improve an individual's interpersonal skills.

 Video conferencing does offer a much more interactive and visual experience than it's audio counterpart, but it requires expensive equipment, a reliable maintenance service and a strong broadband connection. The high speed and capacity required to sustain a video conference restricts attendance to just a handful of members. Audio conferences can include hundreds, even thousands of participants. The only requirements for each member are a computer terminal and a reliable Internet connection, not necessarily a high speed one.

Whether or not a company should stick solely to audio conferencing or branch out with investment into video conferencing, depends entirely on the budget, the size and the needs of the business. There's no doubt however, that audio conferencing is a great solution for any company who needs a cost-effective, simple and reliable way to conduct business.

Click here to enquire about audio conferencing

Headsets Today

Headset Headaches!

Single or dual? Wireless or corded?

The headsets you choose could be the difference between your business being a noisy, stress-riddled room or a streamlined, efficient place of business. But how do know which is the best choice for you?

The headset industry

Since the birth of headsets over 100 years ago, the technology has advanced to the level we see today, where a whole range of brands and advanced features are available to choose from. In it's earlier stages, the demand for headsets predominantly came from the aviation industry, and in more recent times the demand comes from the office and call centre industry. The leading brands in the industry include Plantronics, Jabra, Sennheiser and Agent. All offer an extensive range to choose from, with features such as noise-cancelling microphones and accessories such as replaceable ear cushions readily available to adapt the headset to the individual's needs. Predominantly however - in both the corded and wireless options - there are three classic headset wearing styles:

• Monaural: One earpiece receiver with accompanying headband
• Binaural: Two earpiece receivers with accompanying headband
• On ear: Hooks on to one ear with no headband

Headsets today

Headsets in today's market are sleek, lightweight units, with advanced technological features that provide workers with varying levels of assistance. A cordless headset affords the user such luxuries as being able to send faxes, collect printed documents, and move freely around the office and cantine whilst still speaking hands-free to a client. A corded headset doesn't permit the user as much freedom, but still allows them to take notes, look up information, all with the added bonus that it does not require batteries and will in some cases be more comfortable than a cordless unit. However, new and improved wireless headset designs - which provide reliable, all day comfort - are constantly being deployed. This aspect of the headset design may not be a critical deciding factor in the purchasing process for much longer. The choice of headsets for your company depends entirely on the dynamics and nature of your business and whether or not you think certain technologies are worth investing in.

The right choice for your company

The right choice of headsets by a company can transform a noisy room into a streamlined and efficient place of business; the wrong choice of headsets can turn it into a stressful and unproductive environment. If you're considering buying wireless, it's advisable to research how much the quality can vary. You should consider how much your business would benefit from wireless headsets for the extra costs incurred. If you buy a lower end cordless headset for the same price as a higher end corded headset, there will be a lower quality of sound and your recipients might be left unsatisfied with your service as a result. If your employee is mobile for only a couple of hours in their working day, it may not be worth the leap to wireless. Assessing the typical working patterns for each of your employees should determine whether the role of the individual requires a higher level of mobility. If so, it should also establish whether the labour costs saved in their added mobility (eg. collecting print outs and sending faxes whilst taking a call) will outweigh the extra costs of a more  advanced headset.

The future of headsets

As the technology of headsets continues to develop, efforts are likely to be concentrated on improving the versatility of wireless headsets i.e. increasing the range, eliminating problems of static/shock and seeking innovations in design to make them more comfortable. Bluetooth technology is an increasingly popular choice for wireless headset users, but it might be some time before functionality, safety and sound quality catches up the novelty and style of bluetooth and other wireless technology headsets such as DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications).

Click here to enquire about headsets