Did you know that the first video conference technology dates back to the audio wires of the 1870s and the Bell Lab's video phone in 1927?
Just to give you an idea of how much we have evolved when it comes to communication and technology --
Let’s go back to the year 1964.
Back in the day...
AT&T’s Bell Labs launched Mod I (Model I) Picturephone at the World’s Fair in New York City and made the first transcontinental video call between two different venues.
An exhibit at Disneyland read Communicate “via video” with people at Picturephone! This lasted for 10 minutes at a time and black & white images were sent at 30 frames per second. Also, AT&T’s commercial “Picturephone” service opened for the public through “videophone booths” that connected callers in NYC, Washington, DC, and Chicago. To experience this, reservation was required ahead of time
A three-minute call through “picturephone” from NYC to Chicago cost $27 at that time which is $255 in 2019 dollars.
Video conferencing now...
Yes, we do take video calling features in our smartphones and computers for granted, not knowing the magnanimity of this breakthrough technology
Virtual meetings platforms are a boon when it comes to personal and professional use.
Video conferencing tools for emerging businesses
Talking about the use of video conferencing tools by businesses. Small businesses that are lean, agile, and run a limited budget are benefited the most by this technology.
In simple terms, they save people and businesses a whole lot of time and money. If you are a start-up, a pop-and-mom store recently-gone-online or small businesses it is only commonsensical for you to use video conferencing tools liberally.
"83% of large enterprises and 27.6% of small businesses are most likely to purchase video collaboration applications for their operations." (commercial integrator)
But, if you aren’t still into them, you’re missing out on a lot of good things.
In this blog, we will help you find the right kind of video conferencing tool for your business.
5 features to look for while opting for a video conferencing tool
The market out there for video calling tools is huge, a pool filled with all kinds of options, making it very easy for you to lose the way. If you make a purchase just by superficial criteria like star-studded reviews on some review website, or simply by the price, you might be making a decision you’d regret later. For instance, the tools that are widely used for enterprises, are just too complex and unnecessary for most small businesses.
Go for a tool that has these 6 essential features:
Simple user interface
Choose a video calling app that has an intuitive interface and that which does not require you to be a tech wizard to use it. To think that a tool would be good only because it is loaded with so many complicated features is wrong.
Know what you need and more importantly know what your business needs are and pick a tool accordingly.
To give you an idea, compare the tools of Microsoft like Word, Outlook, and Excel to the tools of Google like Docs, Gmail, and Sheets. You can notice the difference even by just looking at their logo. Microsoft always chooses highly complicated UI, while Google allows you to do the same work in the easiest of ways.
Screen sharing software
The goal of virtual communication tools in businesses or even personal life for that matter is to not let people feel the limitations caused by the distance during an interaction. So, screen-sharing technology is doing just that. It is taking video conferencing into a whole new ball game.
It is one thing to be able to see your co-worker waving at you from a different city on a screen but being able to see the latest market research done by them on a Google sheet, while they guide you through the data is a different experience altogether. In other words, a screen sharing option makes the video conferencing experience simply smarter.
Before you twitch your eyebrow, hear us out. Even though it sounds a bit counterintuitive to talk about going to the basics, but a texting feature is more important than you think. Here’s why you should expect a Live chatting feature in a video calling app.
Most of the time, employees find it rude to interrupt someone who could be even working from home -- directly with a video call. And, we all know that many times the query could be solved by a simple text in a minute while a video call would make it a 30-minute ordeal.
If there’s a built-in texting feature, then employees can have a quick, easy, and convenient way to communicate with each other.
Did you just have a very informative presentation or call, wouldn’t it be nice to get back to it as and when you want? Who wants to scribble notes during a meeting and refer back to them time and again, and pray god for the handwriting to be intelligible.
You can leverage online meetings more by turning it into a recording so that you and others who missed out on the meeting can still watch it.
Not only recording your virtual meetings is a best way to document your online sessions for future use but it can also serve as a useful way to archive reference material and can also be used to train new employees.
Needless to say, smartphones have almost replaced personal computers and laptops. Smartphones are simply more convenient when on the fly, it allows people to be productive almost any time of the day.
"66% of executives view mobile video and real-time data-sharing as crucial parts of their day-to-day communication." (A frost and Sullivan Whitepaper)
The point here is, people move around a lot between trade shows, co-working spaces, or remote home locations. People are constantly online and clients are spread across the world. When the scenario is multi-faceted and sparse, having a communication tool that will deliver a good experience any time of the day should be your choice. Therefore, choose a video calling app that lets you interact with each other in the same way regardless of the device used by any of the parties.
The sooner you adapt to new ways of working the better, it might take time for all to accept this, but virtual meetings are successfully replacing in-person boardroom meetings.