What to Expect When Shopping Around for Video Conferencing Providers

Photo by CC user Jamal Fanaian on Flickr.
Photo by CC user Jamal Fanaian on Flickr.

If your company is making the switch to online video meetings and you are in charge of finding the right system or making the decision, the amount of choice available can become a little overwhelming, and it can be hard to figure out which one is best for your company’s needs. There are some free software providers which you or your colleagues may have used already, but these are designed for personal use and aren’t robust enough for office use, running a remote team, or contacting international clients. You will likely have to choose or pitch a supplier with a monthly subscription to meet the needs of your office. Here are a few of the key things to look out for which you should use as your deciding factors:

  1. Cloud Based Systems

Older conferencing software typically involved a download or installation from a CD. Today’s systems are almost all cloud based, which Small Biz Daily says is the easiest and most flexible type of technology for scalability. Cloud based systems are not only easier to use and less prone to crashing, they are much more accessible, as they can be used on any device with a strong enough internet connection.

  1. Affordability

Another major advantage to live video conferencing for IT departments, with systems such as BlueJeans, is their value for money. The best systems won’t require upgrades to more expensive hardware and the accessibility through a web browser rather than through a download reduces the cost of the software even further. Affordability and value for money will likely be some of your primary concerns when you are comparing software. While the cheapest option isn’t always necessarily the right one to choose and the most expensive system might not always turn out to be the best, you will find it isn’t too hard to find a good system for a reasonable price.The communication channels it opens up and the new opportunities for increased sales it provides will return on the investment easily.

  1. Security Concerns

This is an important issue that is worth careful consideration when you are shopping around for new software. Video conferencing is largely secured by firewalls, encryption codes, passwords and security personnel, but hacking still happens. Hackers can read keyboard strokes to discover passwords, listen in on conversations, and use webcams to zoom in on documents left on a table. The sensitive information and personal data shared during online meetings means that preventing hacking is all the more important. Small Biz Trends says that cloud systems tend to be more secure and easier to manage than on-site systems, as they have their own safety staff. However, they also say that not all of them have the same levels of security in place and some have ineffective safety protocols. With every software provider you consider, look carefully at their security features, investigate how they deal with issues, and do some research to see if any other users have had any problems with them.

  1. Trial Periods

Just like with most products, conferencing suppliers frequently offer free trials of their software to give new customers a taste of what they offer. Depending on the company, this could be either 14 or 30 days. This is a good opportunity to test out each piece of software you are considering to see how well it functions, how the people in your office feel about it, and if it meets your company’s specific needs. Constantly switching between suppliers after you have already signed up for their services is costly and annoying for colleagues who have to adapt to a new piece of tech every few months. Investing into a system that turns out to not be ideal then remaining stuck with it is also a bad position to be in. Make the best use out of trial periods to get to know your new piece of software and gain some insight into what is best for your company.

  1. Customer Support

As well as a line for security alerts, the best suppliers will also provide a customer support line for technical problems or customer service issues. Not all providers will have one, but it is an important service you should expect. Technical problems still happen even on the best of systems so you will need technical support at some time, and good customer service is a sign of a reliable company that can be trusted.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a conferencing system, but these are the most important aspects that you should keep an eye out for. Just as you would when buying any new piece of equipment, consider what your company needs from it and what your budget can stretch to and you will find one that is affordable and that meets your needs all at once.