the rise of video conferencing

Since Video Conferencing is the newest technology to be introduced into the Time portfolio, I thought that I would dig into it a little more to investigate the pros and cons of this new technology!

Video Conferencing is simply the use of telecommunication technologies to connect two or more points and transmit both audio and video streams simultaneously. The reason that this technology has grown over the recent years is due to the price reductions of high speed broadband. The reason high speed broadband is required is due to the need for uninterrupted streams of voice and video. A simple way to differentiate this from sending data is to use the analogy of sending a letter. If you post a letter, and it gets delayed, it will still arrive at the designated location, just slightly later than expected. However the streams of data required for video and voice can be compared to a stream of water; block the flow and there is a period where no water will be flowing. Ever had a call cut out or miss a few words of what the recipient has to say? This is just the same.

There are numerous positives of Video Conferencing, primarily the fact that you can be in multiple locations at once, and avoid the need for travel. A prime example of where this would have been useful (any Leeds folk in driving through the centre at this point will understand) was last month, when a road in the centre of Leeds was closed off due to high winds funnelling down a street created by a large building. It took me over two hours for an otherwise 15 minute journey! Luckily I had no meetings to get to, but if I did, I could have conducted this from the office, or could have even stopped somewhere and used the 3G/4G on my phone! The benefits of this could quickly be realised if a company had multiple sites around the country, or even if there were clients abroad. There are methods to suit any organisation’s needs, from virtual meeting rooms, accessible by any device; to hosted conferences over multiple offices, with multipoint control units. An additional benefit is the documentation/presentations/etc. can all be shared on the screen directly from a computer with users having the ability to share the documents and share control over them if required.

Whilst it strikes me that there are multiple reasons to seriously consider this form of technology there are also a number of reasons why some people would consider against it. I have already mentioned the fact that high quality broadband is required, and for some people this is just not necessary, and is an unjustifiable expense. However, other than cost, the main reason people seem to be uncomfortable to use video is that they become more self-conscious when on camera, and prefer the ability to ‘hide’ behind a phone.

To me, it seems that organisations are scared of the costs involved in video conferencing; however the use of virtual meeting rooms, and webcams which may already be integrated into your laptops, smartphones, and tablets, are a great way to reap the benefits for small costs. For businesses relying on travelling to meetings though, the initial cost of a multipoint system can easily be recouped with the reduced transport costs, and I am all for implementing video into daily routine!

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