Eliminating Traditional Boundaries
There was a time, not too long ago, when a meeting of the minds occurred within the confines of a board room. To get there people would either have to live in the vicinity or travel the many miles needed to participate. The advent of the communication explosion, coupled with the growing power of the internet, has changed how business is done. Today you can have a meeting in virtually any part of the world and participate fully in the events, discussions, and socialization that take place in the board room without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Welcome to the age of comfort, communication, and video conferencing.
Ironically video conferencing was seen as a novelty by many business communities, something that involved fancy gadgetry and didn’t really serve a purpose. Additionally video conferencing was extremely expensive, with a marketplace of hardware and software to purchase. Then SKYPE came along offering the normal home based user the ability to quickly and efficiently chat with someone on the other side of a camera. It doesn’t matter if the person was in the next room or on the next continent. A simple webcam, a tiny piece of software to download, and a free service revolutionized the idea that communication is much better done face to face. In today global economy with many immigrant families needing to talk with loved ones across the planet, the idea exploded.
Granted Skype was not the first ones to invent this idea, nor were they hindered by the massive availability of cheap computers, microphones, and webcams. What Skype did was make it easier for people to understand the technology and the global giants of the tech world were quick to follow.
Today video conferencing is more common than not in most corporate environments where software platforms like Go To Meeting have really gotten popular due to the ability of the presenter to share in real time their thoughts and visual representations to the other people involved in the meeting. The quick and easy, and quite frankly inexpensive way to share information has become the new normal in technological and business communication. So if you are a home user or a business seeking to join the trend of video conferencing what exactly are you going to need.
As a personal user, it could not be simpler. All you need is a home computer with a webcam and the appropriate software. Most of the software is free and available for easy download on the internet. Once you have hooked up the computer, attached and tested the webcam, all that remains to do is install the software, create and account, and you are off to the races. With programs like yahoo chat or skype you are able to join other users very quickly and easily. If your company allows you to telecommute, you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate programs down loaded and all the right plug-ins before starting the process of going to a meeting. An IT professional will be sure to guide you as to the needs and requirements of the company.
Setting up a video conferencing system for a business is no longer as complicated as it used to be, however, there are definitely specific challenges that must be addressed. For companies that have an IT person or a department this is a matter of finding the right equipment and programs, ensuring that the right internet speeds are available and doing some basic training on the operation of the hardware and software. For companies that do not have an IT department, it may be advisable to seek outside technical support.
The first thing a company needs is the right internet connection speed to be able to facilitate video conferencing. Because bandwidths are important for seamless web video conferencing it is important to have both the right email connection and the right routers. Other equipment needed include Polycom phones, monitors, and connection equipment that can range from relatively inexpensive to very pricey. It is always advisable to understand the scope and use of the equipment before getting into the market to buy it, which is where having the technical expertise, comes in very useful. Many companies use flat screen televisions or projectors, for example, to see the other party in a conference room while other companies prefer a more intimate approach of having individual work station monitors. It all depends on the use, budget, and needs of the company.
Video conferencing has truly opened new doors by allowing unique collaboration across the spectrum of work environment. We are no longer constrained by distance or geography, making the work place an open box in which the greatest innovation can come to light across a flat screen television and a high speed internet connection.