The year did not get off to a great start for the economy. Driven by the depreciating Rand there was no doubt that South Africans were in for a tough ride in 2019. The weaker rand pushes the fuel price even higher and this has and will continue to have a domino effect on many industries. Everything is going to go up. 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 many 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 video conferencing over an internet solution such as a fixed line or a mobile network is 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 suit small, medium, and large businesses.
Skype is one of the most flexible options out there. With apps available across all mobile platforms there is good support across many devices. Calls are free unless dialling a mobile or landline for which you can buy credit. Because Skype is owned by Microsoft it fits in well with Microsoft Enterprise products, especially with Outlook.
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 Starter version that offers one to nine host licences and hosting of up to 50 people at a cost of around R200 pm. Premium offerings start from around R400 pm.
Using Google Hangouts one can host a video conference for up to 10 people, for free. You can also use the phone call and messaging options.
G Suite is the paid version, which costs around R90 pm for the basic plan per user, but gives you the flexibility to run all your enterprise functionality on the Google platform. One can also host a video conference 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 bring your own device (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.