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February 03, 2010

Telepresence Feature: Determining Success for Your Videoconferencing Needs

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Have you wondered what defines a successful videoconferencing session? Some companies claim a videoconferencing success rate of 95 percent. Is that good enough for you?
Put it this way: Does that five percent matter to you?
'In short,' a recent white paper from Wainhouse (News - Alert) Research said, 'there is no videoconferencing success benchmark.' So, the company decided to find out if it was possible, and conducted interviews with 20 enterprise videoconferencing managers responsible for global videoconferencing deployments.
Based upon the answers and comments provided by the interview participants, Wainhouse Research officials said they found that 'in the ideal world,' as opposed to the one in which you're actually conducting business, of course, a videoconferencing manager should be held accountable 'for only items within his control, and that only those items should define his meeting success metric.'
That is pretty much how it happens, actually, the study found. But 'there are, however, a number of notable exceptions in which a VC manager appears to hold himself accountable for things outside his control. For example, 12 out of 20 of those interviewed consider a meeting impacted by AV issues at a client’s/partner’s/external site, which are clearly items outside of the VC manager’s control, to be a partial or total failure.'
This demonstrates that the VC managers are - either by their own choice or by managerial decree - harder on themselves than may be necessary.
In fact, Wainhouse found, there are primarily two areas you should pay attention to: The Videoconferencing Service Success Metric 'reflects all issues that impact the VC meeting, are within the VC manager's control or area of responsibility and could have been avoided through the due diligence of the VC team.'
And the videoconferencing meeting success metric 'reflects any and all issues that impact the audio visual and videoconferencing aspects of the VC meeting regardless of area of responsibility or fault.'
For example, the white paper said, 'a video meeting impacted by a bad microphone in a VCroom under the management of the VC manager should be reflected within both the VC service success metric and the VC meeting success metric. However, if that same problem occurred in a room that was outside of the VC manager’s control, like an external client site, the issue itself should only be reflected within the VC meeting success metric.'
So, how to determine if a meeting has actually failed? Wainhouse found the following considerations should be taken into account:
If there's a meeting delay of more than one minute due to VC/AV issues, if there's an inability to connect one or more video sites or a disconnection of one or more video sites for more than a minute before reconnection, that's a fail.
If there are audio issues impacting one or more sites -video or audio - for two or more times during the meeting, for a total of 30 seconds or longer per site, or video issues impacting one or more video sites two or more times during the meeting for a total of 1 minute or longer per site, things are not looking good.
'Based on the feedback solicited from key enterprise videoconferencing managers and Wainhouse’s 20-plus years of experience within the videoconferencing and A/V domains, WR believes that it is entirely possible for organizations to create and track videoconferencing success metrics,' the research found.
According to Bob McCandless, CEO of BrightCom, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based telepresence and videoconferencing manufacturer, “Ease of use is one of the most important aspects of a telepresence and VC system. It is critical that anyone in an organization can use a conference system to instantly call, connect, see and share documents with the other people with which they need to collaborate. As this study shows, if at any point this process fails, or takes too long, the meeting fails. At this point, the video conferencing system can be too easily replaced with a phone and web conferencing environment. This study is a perfect way for businesses to approach their VC management and measure the success of their system and their meetings.” 

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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