Video Conferencing System Pitfalls
A recent survey revealed that three out of four executives predict that video conferencing will ultimately overtake conference calls. Findings indicate that video conferencing will only become more essential, and selecting the right system for your organization will be key.
For businesses — both large and small — selecting a cloud-based video conferencing system can be an overwhelming process. How much bandwidth does my network need? What about scalability? Myriad options in the selection process may make your head spin. Yet, we know that taking the time to evaluate providers and find the best fit is crucial to increasing collaboration and overall productivity.
If you are in the throes of evaluating a cloud-based video conferencing system, we’ve outlined five pitfalls to avoid in the selection process.
Being Cloudy About Cloud Technology
Despite the rise in adoption and advances in security, the “cloud” remains intimidating for some organizations. Today, we’re seeing a rapid growth of cloud technology, particularly in cases where organizations need services that can scale. However, there are many who have not yet made the move due to a certain level of ambiguity.
One point of ambiguity is that of cloud security and concerns around multi-tenancy. Many believe that once data has moved to the cloud, it becomes accessible — directly or indirectly — by any third party whose data is also hosted on the same server. Think of a multi-tenant server in the cloud as you would a housing complex. Although multiple families live under the same roof, they only have the keys to their individual unit. Data is sharing space, but it is siloed and secure.
When looking at encryption, search for a system that guarantees secure and encrypted calling end-to-end using AES-128 (Advanced Encryption Standard). This ensures that even if someone were to somehow access your data, it would be scrambled and unrecognizable.
To alleviate cloud concerns, conduct detailed research and encourage decision makers to do the same. Once everyone is educated about the enhanced security and benefits offered by a cloud environment, your organization can move forward with confidence and a higher chance of successful implementation and scalability of the new technology.
Disregarding Bandwidth Strength
Typically, organizations are not realistic about the strength of their bandwidth. Although we have started to see major improvements in access to reliable, quality bandwidth at a low rate, there are still instances where limited bandwidth leads to poor video quality.
As an IT admin evaluating bandwidth needs, it is imperative to take a few of the following steps into consideration:
- Know your bandwidth requirements: For best results, maintain 720p30 at a bandwidth of 700 Kbps (up and down speeds). To go a step further, increase bandwidth to 1.2 Mbps for 1080p30 quality.
- Plan ahead: Estimate the sufficient bandwidth necessary to meet the demands of your organization. Factor in where the video conferences will take place and when the busy hours of your business are. It may be important to decide if a centralized bridge may be better than a multipoint-capable endpoint.
- Hardwire your network: This may sound like a no-brainer, but a hardwired system — in the office and at remote locations — will help avoid wireless channel interference that disrupts connectivity and leads to latency and low quality.
- Utilize Business Intelligence: These days, it is reasonable to expect an enterprise-ready video conferencing service to provide monitoring and reporting tools to diagnose bandwidth issues and provide appropriate recommendations when an issue arises. This will allow for the technology to either auto-correct or allow individual users to self-diagnose rather than requiring IT to look for answers and time-consuming support.
Forgetting to Evaluate Unique Features
With a range of video conferencing options available, investigate which offerings provide features and capabilities that meet your specific needs. What else will your team be able to do besides make a call, and how will it make the life of your IT staff easier?
Some key cloud features to be on the lookout for:
Interoperability — Does the service play nice with others? One of the benefits of moving to the cloud is being able to connect with people using a variety services.
Record and Share — Hosting storage in the cloud allows for easy access when referring back to briefings, meetings and presentations. It also makes the inability to attend a meeting less detrimental to progress as you’ll easily be able to share the recording for review.
Automatic Updates — Relying on a service that pushes out updates automatically will save your department both time and money. It also ensures you the peace of mind that your system is the most efficient at any given time.
Management Features — Having the ability to view interactive call statistics, manage the user directory, set calendar integration, activate record and share, and directly access support are key features that will make the lives of IT admins much easier in the long run.
Trying to Assemble a Complete Solution From Multiple Vendors
Evaluate how many vendors you will have to interface with to get your video conferencing solution. Having a single source that can integrate cloud-based services is a true advantage for users and IT – one that covers web, audio and video communication as well as chat – with phone and camera systems for conference rooms. If an issue ever arises, you will only have one number to call for support rather than dealing with multiple vendors. It is easier to troubleshoot and hold one single vendor accountable than pointing to multiple sources that could be contributing to the issue. Lastly, another bonus is to have all your upgrades from a single source to make sure everything is inter-operable as this will drive down your total cost of ownership.
Not Doing Your Homework
There is an age-old saying, “Try it before you buy it,” and it could not be truer when it comes to assessing cloud-based video conferencing systems. Not all are created equal, and every organization is different and will have unique requirements in order to meet IT and business goals. While buyer’s guides can be useful, take them with a grain of salt. Ensure that you conduct your own research and generate individualized opinions based on your specific organization.
Many cloud-based video conferencing service providers offer free 30-day trials that can be very helpful in the decision process. Not only will “trying before buying” alleviate the discomfort of the unknown, but it will also ensure that you end up with the most beneficial solution and unique features that best meet the needs of your organization.
In the end, introducing a cloud-based video conferencing system into an organization has the potential to increase communication and collaboration. In the survey mentioned above, 99 percent of respondents deem that video conferencing has a positive impact on productivity. So clear up any cloud misconceptions, evaluate bandwidth realistically, assess features, look for a one-stop-shop, do the important homework and dive into a new cloud-based video conferencing service. By avoiding common pitfalls, your organization will be able to smoothly adopt a new system and enjoy the new and improved work flow in no time.
By Vineet Misra, CIO at Lifesize
As a respected tech veteran, Vineet has more than two decades of experience leading transformational IT, data center, security and cloud operations as well as strategic initiatives – from start-ups to large enterprises. Before joining Lifesize, he served as senior director of corporate IT, cloud operations and security with Domo, a high-growth SaaS startup specializing in business intelligence tools and data visualization. Vineet has also served in leadership positions overseeing IT and engineering, product and business operations at Cisco, Apple and Dell, respectively.