The conference room: It’s arguably the heart of any modern office. It’s where a lot of good collaboration happens, and where many great ideas are born. So it’s a given that equipping that meeting space to perform optimally, with video conferencing (VC) is of paramount importance. Yet what is essential? And what’s optional? How can you equip that conference room this year, so that it doesn’t need an upgrade the next? And, more importantly, how can you achieve all this on a tight SMB budget?
We’ve come a long way from conference rooms equipped only with whiteboards and telephones. Believe it or not, you can add three crucial business functions to any conference space — all for under $1,000.
Easy, instant collaboration and video communications: Always stay connected
Video conferencing has forever altered the way we work with each other, enabling colleagues and clients to communicate as easily as if they were in the same room. This has many benefits, allowing virtual workgroups to form across geographic borders, cutting travel costs, enhancing employee productivity, not to mention furthering relationships between partners and customers.
Yet not all video conferencing systems are made equally.
The best ones are those that are available to the widest range of users within the company. Those that are tied to executive conference rooms limit an enterprise’s ability to take full advantage of the efficiency and cost savings available with modern communication technology.
So what are some of the crucial features of a good, cost-effective video conferencing solution?
First of all, look for the simplicity of Plug and Play. As the best solutions are the ones that employees can actually use. A plug and play “appliance” approach is the easiest to set up and use, producing a fast installation with negligible need for technical assistance with deployment, and similar burden on network administrative resources.
The ideal video conferencing solution will always be ready for use with a click of a button, won’t need any additional software or hardware, and won’t need anyone to use their own unsecured device to conduct a meeting. Furthermore, reducing complexity with a self-contained appliance — as opposed to a combined solution of hardware and software running on a PC — reduces the chance you’ll be calling IT for help.
Affordable, flexible presentations
LCD projectors are not only expensive, but hot and noisy as well. So last century. These days your flat panel TV can do much better, at a fraction the cost.
Even though that LCD projector might have produced a larger size image, an HDTV will do just fine for an average conference room, especially if it’s 42″ or larger. HDTVs also have significant other advantages over other options:
- Built In Audio
- USB Input
- PC Input
- More Effective in Poor Lighting
- Easy setup
Simple collaboration and content sharing
Easier collaboration and sharing of content can significantly enhance worker productivity. In 2013, three quarters of businesses said that collaboration tools would either be “important” or “very important” in the coming years. Without these tools, clearly, the conference room would be under-equipped for today’s business.
So what makes a good collaboration and content sharing solution?
Its application agnostic, meaning that it can be used by anyone, with any app. It will allow a user to collaborate with someone else anywhere in the world using the devices and apps they already know.
The solution is also accessible by anyone. In order to be truly effective, a content sharing tool needs to be easy to use, and work transparently in concert with other video conferencing solutions for the best in real-time productivity. A simple tool for sharing which allows a user to wirelessly display their documents or desktop from their own device to a nearby TV, or collaborate with distant teams in parallel with multicast video communications is best.