Technology improvements and emerging collaboration tools are allowing employees to work from home and communicate easily and effectively with coworkers in other parts of the world more easily than ever before. Video conferencing is an imperative for many businesses, especially those with multiple locations or remote teleworkers, both domestically and internationally. At least 1 in 10 U.S. workers work from home on occasion and many companies have more than one location. The four top applications for video conferencing are: management meetings; sales/marketing meetings; engineering collaboration; manufacturing or production discussions; and for training. The main industries interested in video conferencing are financial services, telecom, insurance, the public sector and utilities.
Video conferencing comes in several forms including desktop, mobile, multisite meeting rooms and immersive telepresence. Video conferencing implementations are on the rise; according to a 2011 study, 50 percent of U.S. corporations made use of some type of video conferencing for collaboration, and 25 percent more have made it part of their business plan to be implemented in the next 2 years. Video conferencing adoption is driven by reduced operating costs, improved decision making and improved communication. Benefits include reduced travel time and expense, because businesses see video conferencing as a cost-effective tool to collaborate remotely while reducing travel time and costs. Before video conferencing, employees had to plan business trips and spend money on all of the associated costs to get face-to-face time with a client. With video conferencing, businesses will realize the same benefits of that meeting, which can be done on the spur of the moment without any of the travel planning and at a decreased cost over time. According to one study, 20 to 50 percent of in-person meetings held during a year could be displaced by video conferencing, which will also tend to be 20 to 30 percent shorter than in-person meetings. The cost of a normal international business trip is $2,818, making the return on investment (ROI) of video conferencing attainable in a short time.
All of this means big opportunity for Value Added Resellers (VAR) in managed services, sales of video conferencing equipment and infrastructure upgrades. Examples of the top 4 benefits as a VAR include:
- Make money by performing a network assessment. Almost 69 percent of customers considering video conferencing completed a network assessment prior to purchase of products.
- Since 66 percent of businesses needed to change or upgrade their IT networks to handle video conferencing, be on hand to advise and make sales on these upgrades.
- Consider selling hosted or managed services for an ongoing stream of revenue; over 54 percent of companies purchased managed conferencing services.
- Don’t forget to sell maintenance on video conferencing and networking products.
Users need to benefit from quality technology that functions with simplicity, meets ongoing needs and works with desired devices. Managers want to be able to see savings and understand increases in productivity. To help cost justify video conferencing services and products, try the following tactics:
- Prorate the cost of network infrastructure upgrades, since often these upgrades may be necessary anyway.
- Track business trip savings that will not be required anymore.
- Put a dollar amount on employee satisfaction from not having to travel.
- Absolutely track travel avoided and employee satisfaction from not traveling.
- Estimate increased productivity from reduced meeting times.
- Show this data in an easy-to-understand format to your IT and executive contacts so they can easily see the importance and usefulness of video conferencing.
The future of video conferencing is extremely profitable. Compelling changes in the global communications environment; decreased network; equipment and service costs; teleworking and multi-location companies; and the urgency for businesses to compete in a global economy will help drive the adoption and acceptance of video conferencing at an accelerated rate. It is important for you to help organizations develop a plan to effectively measure the ROI for video conferencing to ensure its adoption and ongoing usage. With this strategy, VARs can capitalize on the extremely lucrative video conferencing trend.