The Business Case for Investing in Audio
A video conferencing system with high-quality audio that allows people to work effectively wherever they may be and collaborate with employees, suppliers, clients and potential clients across the globe could be a key factor in growing your business.
When it comes to running a business, major costs include staff employment and retention, office space and travel. AV conferencing can help to reduce all of these while still maintaining business growth and development. Reducing the time and costs associated with traveling to meetings has long been cited as a benefit of conferencing, but a well-planned and well-designed system will achieve significantly more than this.
Millennials and Gen Z
Research has been carried out into Millennials and Generation Z and their approach to work. For generations that are digital natives and who have been raised to expect immediate access to what they want, where they want it, the idea of sitting in an office from 9 to 5 every day is an alien concept.
According to a recent Forbes study, Gen Z employees rated workplace flexibility as more important than traditional benefits such as healthcare, with Millennials placing them on a par. Not only that, but as generations who have grown up using technology they expect their workplaces to be similarly well equipped with kits that aids communication, collaboration and development.
There is no denying that many workplaces are embracing the ideals of these younger generations by investing in technology to enable flexible working, and it seems to be having a positive effect on business outcomes. Last year Vodafone carried out one of the largest global surveys of its kind taking in 8,000 employers and employees across three continents, to find out more about their working habits. It found that 75 percent of companies worldwide have introduced flexible working policies to enable employees to vary their hours and use the latest technologies to work from home or on the move. The survey – Flexible: friend or foe? – found that respondents overwhelmingly believed performance had been enhanced as a result of flexible working. Some 61 percent of respondents said their company's profits increased; 83 percent reported an improvement in productivity; and 58 percent believed that flexible working policies had a positive impact on their organization's reputation.
Flexible workspaces are often more attractive to potential employees and there has also been research to suggest that employee interaction and loyalty is increased when it is offered. However, for any business offering flexible working, the ability for colleagues to keep in touch and maintain their business relationships is key, and while effective conferencing systems can undoubtedly have financial benefits, business efficiency is an often-overlooked advantage of effective conferencing. Once your AV conferencing system is up and running, meetings can be held as soon as an opportunity arises rather than having to wait until participants are in the same place. This can speed up decision making significantly and help to build relationships as it's much easier to catch up formally or informally on a regular basis. Similarly, with teams now often spread across the globe, meetings can be convened worldwide with little notice and no fuss.
In addition, if your chosen AV conferencing setup has an intuitive control system and works on an existing network infrastructure it can be up and running quickly and will be easily understood by users. With statistics claiming that it can take participants in excess of 10 minutes to set up an AV conference each time they use the system, investing in an easy to use platform will save time, increase efficiency and develop user acceptance.
While all of this may sound like a no-brainer to pretty much any business, to achieve such positive results it is essential that a business invests in the right infrastructure and puts in place systems that allow people to work naturally and efficiently no matter where they are located. In addition, these systems must be reliable and easy to use if staff of all ages and abilities are going to be willing to embrace them.
Quality of experience is key
Just as users will no longer accept grainy images, buffering and signals that cut out, nor will they accept poor sound quality. This means thought must be given to key elements such as microphones and loudspeakers. For example, when it comes to microphones, a smaller low profile unit will be aesthetically less intrusive and may also be more appealing to users; ceiling microphones take this a step further and, when placed correctly, remove the need for talkers to focus on one central mic improving the natural feel of the call while still picking up all relevant content. Microphones that reject unwanted noise such as HVAC rumblings and paper rustling will add to participants' effectiveness and appreciation of the system.
However, high-quality microphones are not the only consideration; time must also be taken to select the correct speakers for the room and, crucially, ensure they are placed in the correct position for the shape and style of room. A system setup for a huddle room almost certainly won't be effective for a large boardroom or an open plan space. This means that thought must be given to how the system will be used, who will be using it and what outcomes the business is trying to achieve through this investment before any kit is chosen and installed. Once you have answered these questions it will be easier to develop a system that works for your needs and is genuinely effective, rather than one that simply looks good in your meeting space.
Effective AV conferences are productive, collaborative and engaging, and the right technology will ensure this is the case at each and every meeting.
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