Buyer's Handbook:

How to evaluate video conference systems to find the best

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Video services and conferencing hardware have changed

The unified communications debate rages on: Do you put your stuff in the cloud or keep it on premises? This clash is especially true for video conference systems.

Historically, video conference systems were bulky, on-premises deployments that were hardware-centric. The costly systems were difficult to deploy, manage and use, but offered tight security controls. For the most part, big companies used these systems for internal communication among executives.

Now, the cloud has changed all that. Video conference systems are more nimble. Software-driven services are augmented by modernized hardware, including powerful cameras and microphones. Video is now deployed in small meeting rooms and across desktops and mobile devices. Cloud services boast greater flexibility, easy software updates and simplified management.

Cloud-based video conferencing has skyrocketed. According to a recent Nemertes Research survey of 132 organizations, 31% of companies were using cloud video conferencing in 2016. That number has jumped to 40% in 2017. Meanwhile, 23% of companies had no plans to use cloud-based video conference systems in 2016. That number has plummeted to just 4% in 2017.

Video conferencing has long struggled with adoption. The clunky, hardware-centric systems were expensive and hard to use. Some end users, too, may have been apprehensive about being on camera.

Yet, visual communications can clearly boost productivity. For instance, instead of launching an audio-only call and guessing who has joined the conference, video lets users see who's on the call, and the meeting can start a whole lot quicker.

Potential buyers of video conferencing ought to realize this sea change. Most notably, video conferencing's availability has soared while costs have tumbled. Despite all this good news, enterprises still need to heed video's effect on the network and how new services might integrate with existing systems.

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