Video conferencing will make your organisation more productive and drive down costs

| 28 January 2014

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The year has not got off to a great start for the economy. Driven by the depreciating Rand there is no doubt that South Africans are in for a tough ride in 2014.

The impact on a weaker Rand is going to push the fuel price even higher and this will have a domino effect in many industries. Everything is going to go up.

The real impact of e-Tolls on Gautengers is still to be felt, but coupled with the increased cost of living these factors are going to hit the pockets of many consumers and will impact the bottom line of most companies.

It surprises me that organisations don’t focus enough on using technology as a means of reducing costs and creating a more flexible work environment.

Starting with the basics like video conferencing, the average company can save thousands a month and create a more productive workforce.

And it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to set up.

Connectivity today has got to a point where videoconferencing over a fixed line or a mobile network is a relatively stable. Mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and notebooks give people the flexibility to work from anywhere without exorbitant broadband costs.

There are tons of options out there to suite small, medium, and large businesses.

Skype

Skype is one of the most flexible options out there. With apps available across all mobile platforms there is good support across many devices. For group video calls one person needs to have a Premium account which costs in the region on R130 pm. A premium account will allow you to connect up to 10 people on a video call. Because Skype is owned by Microsoft it fits in well with Microsoft Enterprise products, especially with Outlook.

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Cisco WebEx

Cisco has been in this game for many years and offers a solid platform with support for mobile apps across most devices. The flexibility to share files and even do presentations is one of the key features of WebEx. There is a free version that only offers one host licence and hosting of three people. Premium offerings start from around R300 pm.

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Google

Google has various options for video conferencing. There are the free services that need a Google account. Using Google+ Hangouts one can host a videoconference for up to 10 people.

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Google Apps is the paid version, which costs around R60 per month per user but gives you flexibility to run all your enterprise functionality on the Google platform. One can also host a videoconference for up to 15 people and have the flexibility to edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

There are tons of options available out there. The key to maintaining a good system is the flexibility. Support across all platforms is crucial especially in a BYOD environment where you have different platforms across the organisation.

The success of video conferencing will be determined by the buy-in from your employees. Start by quantifying the cost of transportation and highlighting unnecessary travel to meetings that can be done via video conferencing. Get your organisation focused in the right direction and you will create an agile work environment that will ultimately yield higher productivity and drive down costs. Plus the environmental benefits will make your company greener.

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