Top Five Things to Think About Before Investing in a Video Conferencing System

Everyone is working differently – some at home, some in the office, and it’s changing all the time. You need a solution that gives people the same simple, reliable experience whether they’re in a meeting room in the office, or the kitchen at home.

Also, who you need to speak with has changed considerably. Before COVID-19, you were likely speaking with colleagues but now you’ll need to collaborate with external customers and vendors. There are lots of cloud meeting platforms available, so try to identify a solution that makes it easy to connect with everyone. The analogy here is your mobile phone – imagine if you own an iPhone and it could only call other iPhones, and what a bad user experience that would be.

1. Interoperability

Given the recent pandemic and increased work from home initiatives, it’s really important that people can securely join a video meeting from whatever platform they are using. StarLeaf, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Zoom, Google Meet, WebEx are all popular platforms and its essential that you can make calls between them without issues. Make sure your provider can demonstrate interoperability between these different platforms before you commit to them – seeing is believing, so insist on a demonstration.

Make sure the solution provider you choose works with open standards and can interface with other solutions already deployed. For example, you should be able to quickly and easily schedule a conference call through your calendar application, like Outlook or Google, and work seamlessly with your room conferencing system, so when you want to start a call, the meeting room panel has the right call, ready to launch.

2. Reliability

People can’t afford to have a video conferencing solution that suffers from constant outages, unwanted interruptions or poor call quality. As an example, hospitals have implemented telehealth solutions during the pandemic, including enabling sick children or elderly patients to speak their families. These solutions have to be reliable and work every time.

Look for a solution provider which owns and operates its own platform and doesn’t just run software in other vendors datacenters. When your provider owns the end-to-end solution, the hardware in the datacenters, and the software, you can get some guarantee of service. Look for a published SLA where 99.999% uptime is guaranteed (five nines).

3. Security

Security is essential and needs to be an integral part of your providers solution. Look for ISO/IEC 27001 certification (the most stringent global security standard) which guarantees your user and call data are encrypted and safe. Look for other industry specific security accreditations.

An example is in the healthcare industry, where patient records are governed by the HIPAA regulations, which ensure patient confidentiality and are a mandatory requirement. Some providers will interpret these requirements in their own way so ensure that your provider is certified by the regulatory body.

Another consideration is data jurisdiction or where your user and call data is stored. This can be a legal requirement so make sure your provider can guarantee where your data is stored.

4. Devices

Look for a solution provider that offers support for all the devices you use - iPhones/iPads, Android devices, iOS, Windows, Linux. Make sure that the user interface and workflow is the same across all devices to ensure ease of use. Check whether your provider can supply hardware for all your spaces, including your huddle and conference rooms, and whether they can run their software on any legacy devices you have. If you are already heavily invested in conference room AV, you want to make sure the user experience in the rooms matches that of mobile or home office users.

5. Simplicity

It’s essential that the video conferencing solution you choose is easy to use and implement. If it’s not simple and intuitive to use, people won’t use it and you won’t get a return on investment (ROI) to match your expectations.

With all the complexities of setting up an optimized office, you need a conferencing solution that gets people started, quickly and effortlessly, with meetings that are easy to schedule and join. But it’s not just about video calling. The right solution will deliver on a number of your key working requirements, like simple document sharing and enterprise chat, regardless of how or where your teams are meeting from.

Mike McCarthy is the VP, North America at StarLeaf, a leading voice and video conferencing systems for conference rooms and desktops.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.