Saving money and building relationships.
Video Conferencing for the Small and Medium size company.
Every company wants to save money and build stronger relationships between their employees and customers. While some people are uncomfortable talking over a video call, it can be an extremely valuable tool for a small or medium sized company. How many times have you taken a business trip somewhere or attended a conference and said afterwards “the best thing about the trip is I got to meet face to face with a bunch of people I normally deal with over the phone”. In other words, the trip was worth the effort because you were able to build upon a relationship that was, up to that point, only based on audio or written communication. Video may not be as good as an in person meeting but it is the next best thing and it has a WHOLE LOT of benefits (see our blog post next week!)
First off, let’s talk about saving money. How does “free” sound? Here are the most common free platforms available to companies today:
Web | iOS | Android
This product started as Google+, then moved to Google Talk (Gtalk) and now has morphed into Google+ Hangouts. The video chat capabilities Google has created are simple to use and powerful.
There’s no large program to download and install on the desktop, but you will need to add a Hangouts plugin to your browser. It’s available for most browsers, even Internet Explorer. Sign into Google+, make sure Hangouts is signed in, and you’ll see your buddy list on the right. Pick a name and you’ll see a chat window. Click the video camera icon to start a video chat. Very simple
Skype is the de facto standard in video chat between two people. However, each participant must have a Skype account and it’s only free when you are talking one-on-one. Group video chatting requires a premium subscription, which starts at $4.99 a month. While video chatting you can instant message, show off your desktop screen, and share files.
FaceTime comes free with all Mac and iPhones and is as easy to use as making a phone call.
Once you register your phone number and/or email addresses with the service, you can then find others. If you know another user’s contact info and they’re also using an Apple device, making a video call is as simple as pie. That’s the major strength, along with very high video quality. The only drawback with FaceTime is that it’s not on any other platform
Windows | Mac OS | Linux (Server only) | iOS | Android | Windows Phone
CamFrog lets you set up Web-based video chatrooms where you or others with a webcam can join a conversation. One-on-one conversations are also an option. Plus it’ll do voice and text if you don’t want others to see you.
Webex is a standard way to share a desktop and do an online whiteboard, but it also offers VoIP features, even on the free level that includes standard-quality video chat. However you’ll have to pay extra for high-definition video.
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
If you like free software to be more open-source and unlimited try Jitsi. Jitsi (formerly the SIP Communicator) has almost nightly new builds of the multi-protocol software. It is ICQ for video and does SIP or XMPP-based video and audio, and works with Yahoo Messenger and AIM for text chat.
ooVoo takes on Skype directly by providing features like IMs, free voice calls to any phone, screen sharing, and file sharing—and on the video side it offers group video chat with up to 12 people, along with video call recording directly to YouTube. There’s a Facebook app that lets you join a video chat right from the Web.
There are others but you get the idea. These tools are out there and can be leveraged in your business for practically nothing. Once you have the platform to use then you can unlock all the other value – see our next blog post called “Why Video”.