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The cloud is no longer a new and risky proposition for enterprise video. Cloud services have matured to the point where they can provide the same reliable, high-quality video that traditional, on-premises video infrastructures provide.
Switching to cloud video conferencing services can alleviate management headaches, reduce costs and improve the meeting experience. There are eight considerations and best practices you should keep in mind when preparing to migrate to video conferencing as a service (VCaaS).
1. User experience is king
In the old days, business video followed a top-down adoption model where the boss would buy a new communications tool and tell everyone to use it. The purchase considerations for these tools were based on the price and feature set. It didn't matter if users liked the video service. It wasn't their job to like it; it was their job to use it.
This adoption model does not work anymore. Workers have many more options in today's app markets. And, if they don't like the tools, they will use something else.
To avoid the IT nightmare of employees using unsupported tools in your workplace, start your decision-making process with the users. Most major cloud video conferencing services offer a free trial or freemium option to let your users try before you buy. Adoption will be higher if you choose a tool they like, which can boost productivity and prevent the cost and stress of traditional user adoption programs.
2. The desktop is where adoption happens
The typical user will spend more time using desktop video than video in meeting rooms. The desktop will define the user experience. If you provide team leaders with a desktop video service they like, they will be more likely to use it and get their teams to use it. Additionally, they will be more open to using other productivity tools that complement the offering, such as streaming, recording and mobile video.
3. The meeting room is still important
Meeting room video has transformed the workflow for many businesses. The typical business video call includes several remote individuals on desktop or mobile devices calling into a local group in a meeting room. So why don't people in the meeting room stay at their desks and use video?
Video provides a huge benefit over audio-only communication, but face-to-face productivity still can't be beat. People in the same building should still meet in a physical space and work together whenever possible. The key is sharing as much of that experience as possible with remote workers.
In the meeting room, a laptop video connection is not enough. You want the experience to be as immersive as possible for remote participants. Keep in mind, meeting room equipment should not just benefit the people in the room. A great meeting experience is not just local, and remote workers need to see and hear each other clearly.
You want to design your rooms so that remote and local team members feel immersed and can collaborate effectively. It's not about what camera you buy, it's about understanding your teams and how they work.
4. Equip the meeting room for cloud video
Ideally, you want to equip your meeting spaces with a software-based room system from the same provider as your desktop and mobile services.
Many of today's top cloud video conferencing services offer desktop and mobile software, as well as software designed for meeting rooms. Vendors usually sell these systems as room kits that include a mini-computer running the software, peripheral cameras and speakerphones. The benefit of these systems is that your desktop users will be familiar with the interface. Meeting room software also generally offers calendar integration and one-touch options to join a meeting.
The cloud is changing how organizations buy video conferencing products.
If you currently have on-premises meeting room video systems, don't abandon them. Some of today's VCaaS providers can integrate with these systems, which provide many of the same advantages of software-based systems. Some cloud vendors even offer touchpad devices to enable one-touch join capabilities on legacy video conferencing systems.
5. Provide easy access for guest callers
If your business has no outside contacts, then all video users will use the same software and life will be easy. In the real world, businesses communicate with partners, customers and suppliers. You need a cloud service that can easily connect to the services of your external contacts or that gives them an easy entry into yours.
Many of today's cloud video conferencing services offer quick click-to-join options for guests, but you should not take the capability for granted. Make sure to review the guest experience yourself before you impose it on your external business contacts.
6. Meet scalability and security needs
The only real best practice for scalability and security is to make sure these two topics are part of the discussion with any potential cloud video vendor. Your needs will be specific to your business.
While all enterprise-ready video services boast great scalability and security, they're still a major consideration, and you should seek reassurances specific to your needs.
7. Empowering your organization with analytics
You can't outsource responsibility for the productivity of your teams. You need to know how your video service is being used to ensure you get the maximum return on investment (ROI). Many cloud video conferencing services offer administrative portals or dashboards that let you monitor and respond to call quality issues and help you determine usage patterns and adoption issues.
You can also compare usage data with internal productivity data to get a better picture of your real ROI. If active video users make up your most productive teams, that data validates the success of the service and provides a great model for the rest of your organization.
8. Evaluate hybrid deployment options
Some organizations prefer to keep local video meeting traffic on their network for security and efficiency. If you're one such organization, you may still want to migrate partially to the cloud to relieve some stress on the internally managed video service.
Some of today's cloud providers can manage your service while keeping local traffic on your network. They also offer overflow options so you can offload additional calls to the cloud if your internal network is at capacity. These hybrid options work for organizations that are not quite ready to go full cloud.
While you should consider many best practices when migrating to VCaaS, keep one overriding principle in mind. We are past the days of choosing technology for our users based on what we think is cool, cost-effective or feature-rich. Collaboration has no best product.
Today's game is finding the right tools to support your end users' workflow. Don't migrate to VCaaS in a way that forces them to change their workflow. Choose a service that complements how they want to do things. That's the key to adoption, ROI and success.