Video conferencing has emerged as a super convenient technology primed for business. Set up just right, it can improve communication, reduce travel costs, increase productivity, and give organizations a sizeable edge over the competition. There’s a lot on the table, but due to the complexities associated with taming this beast at the heart, some businesses are hesitant to dive into the adoption pool. Enter managed services.
Like many technologies, the challenges of video conferencing can be solved with the right dose of IT. This is encouraging news for both companies in need and managed service providers. When packaged as a managed service, small businesses and other organizations who lack in-house resources and expertise can enjoy video conferencing minus all the hassle. There are no investments in expensive hardware or software, and existing video equipment and devices can be used to support communication needs across the organization.
Managed video conferencing is a dream scenario for the company lacking in IT infrastructure, but service providers have quite a few challenges to contend with. Cost is usually the most significant. National Technology Assistance Project (NTAP) provides a sample breakdown on the cost of video conferencing by key components like hosting environment, video equipment, and bandwidth. It’s just a sample, but it does paint the picture of a potentially cost prohibitive project, especially when throwing in the recurring cost of keeping up the infrastructure.
The amount you invest in video conferencing will largely depend on your route of adoption, with your options ranging from free to huge bundles of cheddar. While frees sounds irresistible, it’s not a viable option for the vendor who plans on delivering video conferencing as a premium managed service. This is mainly for two reasons:
1. Business Functionality
Free software is capable of hosting video meetings with participants from across the world. But whether it can meet the varied needs of a diverse customer base are up for debate. It’s all about limitations. For example, you may be limited by the number of people you’re able to support in a single session, or stuck with standard definition video streams. Even worse, you may be limited by standards that restrict the ability of your customers to communicate across specific desktops, mobile devices, and business phone systems.
The premium video conferencing market is stocked with the variety IT service providers need to cater to the demands of multiple clients, typically all in a single platform. Enterprise-level solutions offer features such as HD video streaming, content sharing capabilities, and dynamic meeting layouts that can be customized from your desktop. The biggest functionality selling point is universal endpoint support that allows customers to enjoy a seamless video conferencing experience across all platforms, including Google, Microsoft, and telepresence systems.
2. Service Reliability
As an IT service provider, equipping customers with a free video conferencing tool is something that will likely haunt your conscience. After all, free software doesn’t come with any guarantees, meaning that without some major tweaking at the source code, you can’t ensure the clarity of video and audio, or the frequency of dropped calls. The potential for service interruptions is much higher, so your support staff could spend an alarming amount of time responding to technical issues.
Premium video conferencing tools are more reliable by nature. You have access to top shelf connections that deliver stellar video and voice quality while ensuring the uptime and performance guarantees free systems lack. To give your customers an added peace of mind, you can tout a secure video conferencing solution that keeps eavesdroppers out. Some platforms come armed with industry leading encryption standards that protect connections and help ensure the privacy and integrity of company communications.
Video Conferencing as a Service
When it comes to getting a bargain on video conferencing as a managed service without compromising quality, the most logical solution may rest in the cloud. Cloud computing offers a host of compelling benefits in this environment, including:
Low-cost investment. Cloud computing gives service providers access to the same cost benefits end-users enjoy. Thanks to the cloud’s “pay as you grow” model, your upfront capital investment is minimal and manageable.
Commercial appeal. Fully loaded and BYOD-ready, cloud-based platforms serve up all the trimmings that make video conferencing so appealing.
Brand-friendliness. Cloud operators are rolling out video conferencing solutions that are incredibly easy to make your own. With some quick adjustments, you can make sure clients see your company logo and brand elements when using the application interface.
Choose Your Channel Wisely
Video conferencing is becoming more widely available and affordable at all levels. For MSPs and other IT companies, the key to taking full advantage is all in channel selection. A good partner can prove valuable by greatly reducing your investment in infrastructure, minimizing IT overhead, and expanding your coverage area to accommodate the small businesses, enterprises, and government institutions the market caters to. Whether you opt for the cloud or something entirely on-premise, never underestimate the role this partnership plays in your success.
Photo Credit: Scott Feldstein via Flickr