For value-added resellers, video conferencing represents a powerful business opportunity. With the potential for quick return on investment and improved business processes, your customers will easily see the benefits that video conferencing can provide.
However, it’s important to remember that not all video conferencing systems and devices are created equal. When building a system for your customer, you’ll need to be familiar with the following critical components:
1. Video camera or webcam
Video conferencing wouldn’t be possible without modern camera technology. It’s vital that anyone communicating by video can be clearly seen, without jerky or unreliable footage getting in the way of their message. Camera quality has greatly improved in the last several years, and prices have steadily dropped. This means many of your customers will be able to comfortably invest in a video camera or webcam that provides clear, reliable video at a relatively high resolution.
2. Audio input
Similarly, a video conferencing system cannot be successful without clear, understandable audio. Although you can’t always control the quality of the technology on the other end of your customers’ video conferencing calls, you can ensure that their speech is captured as effectively as possible with high-quality (and well-placed) microphones.
3. Codec Device
This is also a vital piece of the puzzle. The codec is the hardware or software that digitally compresses both the audio and video for each conferencing session. Then, the “packets” are transmitted through a digital network (increasingly, IP networks) to the endpoint or endpoints. Look for a codec device that can achieve high compression rates so audio and video are relayed seamlessly, in real-time. Today, compression rates of up to 1:500 are increasingly common. Be sure to select a device that is standards-based and easily interoperable with other sites.
4. Endpoint devices
This refers to the multiple devices that handle the video and audio output in a conferencing system, which might include a video display, loudspeakers, a telephone, TV screen, projector and more. These devices can be tailored to your customer’s needs, ranging from stand-alone desktop units to larger room-based systems. Seek out an endpoint system that is well-established and has been proven with other customers.
5. The Right Computer System
In any video conferencing system, computers take care of the data compressing and decompressing and provide access to the network. Depending on your customer’s needs and the size of their video conferencing system, they may require more powerful computers with higher processing speeds than others.
Let the Project Decide
In any video conferencing deployment, it’s important to let the individual project dictate the technology chosen. What’s “best in class” for one customer may not be for another. One may need a larger dedicated system, which includes all these various components in one piece of equipment. Other customers may require the relative ease of a desktop system with individual devices added on.
In either case, requirements such as bandwidth, firewall challenges, audio and video quality demands and connection reliability will help you determine what will be best for each customer. Be sure to keep their level of tech-savvy in mind as well. Some customers will require a much more user-friendly system than others.
You Tell Us
What has been your experience with the various components of video conferencing systems? What would you say is the most important “best-in-class” requirement?