Communication is an essential part of business, but not all communications tools are created equal. Learning which tools will work best for your business is very important to your bottom line; and its not just about the expense of the gear. Efficient communication methods increase profitability by eliminating a number of redundant steps, expenses, and saving time.
One of the biggest revolutions in communications technology has been the advent of cloud-based apps. Prior to the widespread availability of cloud access, communication was done primarily by telephone, email, and a variety of instant messaging clients. By moving software into the cloud instead of multiple licenses on desktop or laptops, even small businesses gained the advantage of having large, off-site maintained servers. This has freed up budget, time, and staff and left more time to creatively grow an IT business. In fact Synergy Research Group shows that cloud services and infrastructure are growing by 28 percent per year since 2014. However, communications remain patchwork cobbled together teleconferences, collaborative apps, email clients, freeware and freemium apps are still being juggled inefficiently.
PC Magazine notes that video conferencing is a key necessity to modern workplace, and that the modern workplace is whatever place your employee, freelancer, or contractor happens to be. The need to collaborate and communicate face-to-face is not just for those sharing workspace, but lack of a comprehensive communications plan often prevents this. Evaluating a videoconferencing app should look at a variety of different factors.
- The ability to have a face-to-face meeting one-on-one or to hold large-scale events such as webinars and training sessions argues for something more scalable than a simple group chat app.
- Shareable content. The ability to give a presentation that reaches all meeting attendees should not depend on a camera. Everyone in the meeting should be able to access presentations, documents, and other content within the application.
- In the era of data breach after data breach, you do not want your trade secrets vulnerable to hackers. Yet at the same time, you should be able to access recordings of past meetings and other content. Choosing a business video conferencing system for IT with a reputation for secure communications is your best bet.
- Its important that whatever app you choose that it works with other systems. You will need to have a system that works with iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, and even browsers, not just a room-based system such as Polycom or Cisco. Likewise work with VoIP protocols, SIP, and PSTN.
Moreover, you will need to streamline people in your communications. Email blasts are all well and good, but not everyone needs to hear everything. In fact it can be a distraction from their primary work. Instead categorize your meetings like so:
- Information oriented. This kind of meeting should be carried out by project leads or top chain managers. These are also the hardest meetings to manage. They need in advance to present an agenda to make sure that the meeting doesnt suffer from too much information syndrome. You will need to keep everyones interest through some very dry presentations, and share as much content as possible relevant to the subject.
- Decision-making. These meetings are best presided over by leadership. Coming to a decision is a collaborative effort, and requires sticking to the decision not getting sidetracked. Time should be managed to allow for presentations, and questions and answers.
- Problem solving. Results-oriented meetings such as problem-solving may need to be more open ended and less agenda than traditional meetings. Problem-solving can also be a creative effort which requires input of those teams and departments who will be implementing the solutions.
- Leadership is not so much the keystone here as it is taking the role of moderator. Anyone who has ever participated in an online forum understand that some of the best ideas come from freewheeling discussion. Moderators are there to keep the discussion on track and relevant, and less to make decisions or provide information.
- These meetings are to build the skill sets of your key personnel. The material should be provided well in advance, and the agenda should take into account different learning speeds. Allow time for practice rounds and breaks so that everyone stays fresh.
Finally, streamlining your communications using videoconferencing will eliminate travel time to attend these meetings, travel budget, and per diem or expense account expenditures. The bottom line is important to any business, but without painstaking scrutiny of what goes into the bottom line, a business is being wise and pound foolish. Opening up your communications and streamlining your process will save you time, money, and hours of payroll time, in addition to reducing stress and where on your most valuable staff members.