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September 28, 2012

The Big Effects of Videoconferencing are still to Come

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The pieces are familiar, but the output is new and profoundly different. Skype, video conferencing, YouTube (News - Alert) and telecommuting are no longer new ideas or services. Their effects are still being registered, however, as people and businesses begin fully using the technology and adjusting both expectations and patterns of behavior. Make no mistake: cheap and easy video is changing our world in ways we’re just beginning to see.

“Video conversations held over computers and now mobile phones have become a part of daily life, transforming the Internet into a network that draws people closer,” wrote Hilmar Schmundt in Spiegel Online.

“Even the most skeptical are starting to recognize the magic of video interactions,” noted Schmundt. Grandparents play with faraway grandchildren; divorced fathers do homework with kids who live with their mothers; long-distance couples check in before they go to bed, read to each other or fall asleep with their laptops next to them on the bed, pointed out Schmundt.

“I would like to say that technology is neutral and it is all about how you use it, but in fact the change of medium also changes the message and the possibility of having a message at all,” added Eran Gal, noting its political ramifications in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Gal, who is CEO and founder of Xorcom, a business telephony and VoIP communications provider, notes that, “While during Lincoln's presidential campaign it was normal to carry out speeches of 2-4 hours in length while the crowd would patiently sit down and listen, today the attention span is only long enough for a message like ‘yes we can,’ which can be sent as a tweet.”

Video gives a little more depth, but the message politicians craft must be optimized for video-clip-sized chunks. “A more complex message would have to be stuffed into a YouTube video of three minutes,” he said. “Whichever candidate understands this type of communication increases his chances of gaining votes.”

An even larger change is just now starting to be felt at work, and this change is more subtle than soundbytes.

“Video conferencing is widely touted as a cost-savings measure for reducing travel and providing a hard cost ROI,” wrote Scott Wharton in a recent blog post. “But not much is discussed about how it can fundamentally impact the structure of the organization and how we organize.”

Wharton noted that today, “Most companies employ two imperfect tradeoffs: hire most people locally and be limited by the local talent pool. Or spread out the work and be limited by the interactions and friction that distance brings. But there is increasingly a third way: hire on a global basis for the best possible talent and use video conferencing to bring people together every day.”

This is possible now because enterprise-ready video conferencing has become cheap and ubiquitous enough that it can be deployed in ways it functionally could not have been used even 10 years ago.

The role video plays in business communication definitely will increase, said Xorcom’s (News - Alert) Gal, and businesses should start paying attention.

“The name of the game in 21st century business will be relationships and trust,” suggested Gal, since businesses and services are quickly entering a world where geography no longer naturally limits competition. “In order to create trust, it is not enough to send emails. You need to hear and see the person with whom you are working.”

He added that, “It is a well-known fact today that communication is only five to 10 percent words, and all the rest is tone of voice and body language.” Face to face communication therefore still is the best option, but video is the practical alternative.

“Video is second best method, after actual face-to-face meetings, but due to the immense difference in cost, video will play an important role,” he said.

That’s part of why he’s excited about ITEXPO West 2012, which takes place in Austin, Texas October 2-5.

Attendees will be able to see Xorcom’s new video conferencing solution, which Gal said should turn some heads. The company is offering “a complete IP PBX (News - Alert) and MCU in a single box -- and priced very attractively.” Moreover, he added, “Since it works with various SIP endpoints it provides a full solution for a price that suits SMB budgets.”

To find out more about Xorcom visit the company at ITEXPO Austin 2012. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Xorcom in booth #714. For more information on ITEXPO Austin 2012 click here.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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