How Effective Are Unified Videoconferencing Systems for SMBs?

February 20, 2016
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As a small business owner, you often look for wants to improve your business’s communication.  In the beginning, there was the typed memo.  Then that was replaced by a company-wide email.  Today, even emails have been replaced by pop-up system messages.  The conference has also evolved.  Instead of meeting in person, people have teleconferences or videoconferences.  

As a small business owner, you often look for wants to improve your business’s communication.  In the beginning, there was the typed memo.  Then that was replaced by a company-wide email.  Today, even emails have been replaced by pop-up system messages.  The conference has also evolved.  Instead of meeting in person, people have teleconferences or videoconferences.  

The video conference, in particular, has gone from what some people thought was going to be a flash trend to a business staple.  But while it’s easy to see how unified videoconferencing would be very useful for large businesses with branches around the world, is it really that effective for small or medium-sized businesses?

Businesses with One Location

For those businesses that are small enough that all employees are based in one location and don’t travel off-site for work, video conferences and web conferences are really not that effective.  There’s no need to have your employees connect to each other online when they can walk down the hall to the conference room.  For these businesses, you may wonder if there’s any reason to move to a unified communications system that includes videoconferencing.

However, while it may not be used every day,video conferencing every now and then when employees are out at a job site or when they’re travelling to a conference can be useful.  Emails or phone calls may simply not be enough to let employees effectively work together on a project.  For example, if an employee is at a construction site and sees damage or something that may need additional work, they can set up a videoconference with the main office using their smartphone and actually show the area in question to those at the remote location.

Videoconferencing with Clients

While you may not need to have video conferences with your employees, you may want to have web meetings with your clients.  These meetings can be done using fairly inexpensive systems—in fact, many small businesses use a free video chat program and the built-in cameras and microphones that many laptops come with.  This is a great way of getting some face-to-face time with clients who are not local.  Videoconferencing has the advantage over phone conferences since you can actually show clients what you’re working on.  Using technology such as white boards, it’s possible to share documents, sketches, and video online with only a few clicks.  The entire collaboration process can be done remotely without losing anything.

Unified Videoconferencing Systems

While many small and medium-sized businesses use free online video chat software, most of them do not have a unified videoconferencing system.  A unified communications system is one in which video, data, and voice services have been brought together.  This allows businesses to bring a number of communications together, including video chat, smart phones, instant messaging, emails, and more.  It integrates all of your communications methods.

What benefits does this have for your business?  There are a number of reasons why the implementation of unified communications doubled between 2010 and 2011.

  • A large return on investment due to the decrease of individual systems
  • Flexibility in services and scale
  • Integrate systems such as scheduling, calendars, call routing, and voicemails
  • Make use of cloud-based communications so that employees can access the system from anywhere in the world
  • Make your communications mobile with integration with laptops, tablets, and smartphones 

Many Options

There are a number of different unified communications systems out there.  As mentioned, the flexibility you have in deciding which of these systems works for you and in configuring your chosen system is certainly one of the strengths that comes with unified communications.  While there are some systems designed for large businesses that do cost more, there are many affordable systems that provide everything your small business would need without breaking the budget.

What’s great about many of these systems is that they can easily be scaled up to meet your future needs as your business grows.  There won’t be a need to replace everything because you can simply upgrade your system.  If you end up opening a branch office or working with clients overseas, it’s no problem—just add that capability when you need it for a fraction of the cost of a new system.

A Growing Trend

More and smaller businesses are beginning to move to unified communication systems because of the advantages they offer.  By rolling their various communication systems into one unified system, there’s less cost, maintenance, and complications.  Businesses in multiple industries make use of these systems and have seen a huge return on their initial investment.  As a business owner, has unified videoconferencing been an effective communications tool?  How have you used it?  Let us know what benefits of unified communications you’ve found.