Solving the 7 Biggest Challenges of Video Conferencing
Companies large and small are making the decision to roll out new video conferencing solutions. After all, in today’s global economy the workforce is far more distributed than ever before and people are choosing where they want to work—whether at home, at the office or on the road. Knowing this, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out the main benefit of video conferencing. It replaces costly face-to-face meetings with a far more efficient and cost-effective alternative, while keeping dispersed teams connected and aligned.
Underscoring the growing adoption of video conferencing, a survey conducted by West Unified Communications found that 54% of full-time employees in the U.S. regularly participate in video conferencing. But, what’s stopping every employee from fully embracing video conferencing? How can we cure the growing pains associated with video conferencing? Here are the seven biggest challenges of video conferencing and how to solve them.
1. Glitches in the system
Every day, IT departments hear from remote employees who say, “My video conference isn’t working. Can you fix it?” Usually, IT can resolve the problem, but it takes time. If end users have to wait before they jump on their video conferences, they may very well not bother with a video conference in the future. The advantage of the video conference is its real time nature and, if that’s lost, it loses some value in the user’s eyes.
How to fix it: Make sure the basics of your solution are functioning and see that the same problems aren’t cropping up repeatedly. You can, of course, tutor end users in simple troubleshooting, but you should also stay on top of issues by putting in place a monitoring system that will alert you to glitches immediately so you can respond right away and fix them before end users even know they’re there. Keeping your users satisfied is vital to adoption.
2. Lines disconnected
As we know all too well, this is often the problem on the user end. Almost as often, the user refuses to believe the problem is so simple! Recently at Enterprise Connect a UC Admin asked us if Prognosis can send an alert when an HDMI cable is disconnected, a frequent issue for them and, indeed, it does.
How to fix it: Set up alerts that notify your IT people when cables are disconnected. Also go analog and put up signs to remind users to first check all the cables if they’re having a problem. It’s also helpful to provide users with a labeled diagram of the cables.
3. Low-quality video and/or audio
There is not much point in a video conference if people can’t see and/or hear each other clearly. Your solution may suffer from low volume, background noise, garbled sound, echo or delay. You must eliminate all of them to maintain the flow of your conferences and keep your users engaged.
How to fix it: There are all sorts of possible causes for poor video and audio quality. To identify the issues afflicting your system, you need visibility into your entire UC ecosystem. You must have immediate access to QoS statistics for jitter, latency, packet loss, frame rate, etc. If a video conference has a problem, you must be able to drill down into it and view these stats and then be able to drill into each stat and see what’s causing the degradation. This means deep, rich and connected visibility, the last being especially important. Connected visibility means having all elements of your ecosystem in one place: multiple vendors, hardware and software, SBCs, network and endpoints. If you want effective video conferencing, you need a comprehensive and proactive UC monitoring and troubleshooting platform, not siloed monitoring tools that only cover individual aspects of conferences.
4. Who’s using what?
There are a lot of stakeholders with an interest in the rapid uptake of your video conferencing system, including administrators, UC managers, CTOs and the finance department. These systems can be expensive and organizations want to be sure that their investment is paying off. This is particularly relevant information when it comes to time to renew or upgrade a system. Various departments may want to know which features are used often and which is not, which are easy to use, which are most often faulty. These utilization reports are vital but they can be a challenge.
How to fix it: Choose a platform that can monitor your entire video conferencing environment and delivers clear utilization reports. Keep in mind that video conferencing is an important part of a broad UC and collaboration strategy, so it’s important to consider a performance management and monitoring platform that can monitor and optimize video conferencing experiences as part of a broader performance and experience management solution across all aspects of enterprise UC and collaboration solutions and ecosystems.
5. Security concerns
Security is now front of mind with every new technology—and video conferencing is no exception. Video conferences include not only video and voice, they may also include file sharing and screen sharing of confidential information. Security is thus a vital element of any video conferencing solution, especially if it’s going to be used by senior executives.
How to fix it: Only implement a video conferencing system that is compliant with current security protocols and is continually updated with the latest advances in encryption. Make sure you include your security team whenever you install or upgrade your video conferencing solution.
6. Unrealized ROI due to insufficient use
You invested in your solution with the expectation that employees would use it and you would realize the value. But if they don’t, you can’t. So what causes users not to adopt video conferencing? It could be any of the performance shortfalls outlined above. It could be a culture issue, i.e. resistance to change among your general workforce because you didn’t get the leaders onboard early enough.
How to fix it: If your lack of adoption is a tech problem, follow the fixes described above. If it’s a shift in culture you need, you should launch an education initiative right away. To get to your tipping point and achieve broad adoption, you should engage the influencers in your outfit—those early adopters who are comfortable with the technology and who will spread the word that it works, and that using it actually leads to greater productivity.
7. Finding the root cause of issues
The goal with any glitch is finding the root cause quickly and fixing the problem in real time before any damage is done. You might eventually find out the root cause of the problem by sifting through logs and command lines—but by that time it’s probably too late and the damage has already been done.
How to fix it: The key is knowing where to start. The good news is that the right troubleshooting tool can quickly point you in the right direction and help you resolve any disruptions. The best tools will even provide proactive alerting that can alleviate many video conferencing problems, like notifying you when that HDMI cable is disconnected. The benefit of being proactive is that you’re on top of problems before they actually happen, so you can resolve issues before users even know about them.
We don’t live in a perfect world. We have to expect that even our best laid plans will sometimes go astray. But at least we can deliver a great video conferencing experience when we put the right measures in place.
About the author: Skip Chilcott leads global Product Marketing at IR. He's a UC and Collaboration industry veteran starting with Placeware Web Conferencing (acquired by Microsoft 2003), he went on to spend 13 years at Microsoft product management and marketing with Real-time Collaboration, Unified Communications, and Cloud Productivity products and services. Prior joining IR in 2016, he led GTM strategy and execution for Skype for Business and Office 365 in the U.S. He has a passion for helping organizations to maximize success, effectiveness, and growth through the adoption of innovative communications and collaboration technology solutions.
Edited by Erik Linask