How to set up a business communication system for a small business?
Video conferencing is far from being a disruptive technology, even for small businesses.
At this point, it’s becoming the office norm as organizations increasingly move on from the traditional voice-only conference call. Businesses have invested in video conferencing and screen sharing software to boost collaboration and communication, as well as improve meeting efficiency.
But there are questions every company needs to ask before implementing a communication system. This applies whether you’re new to video conferencing or are looking to upgrade from an existing platform. The decision-making has to be deliberate when researching your options, as this is no small project.
Cost is one of the first factors that comes to mind, though you’ll also need to consider feature set, integrations, and maintenance among others. Taking all these variables into account is important to making sure that whatever solution you end up buying enables better productivity and generates a return on investment.
Here’s what to think about when setting up a video conferencing and business communication system for your company.
Organizations face a fundamental question from the outset of their search for a business communication system: to build or to buy? The two options are widely divergent: Building means assuming a capital expense (capex) model, while buying a solution leads to an operating expenses (opex) model.
For small businesses, the choice to build is not often available given the investment needed to acquire and build infrastructure. These are the capital expenses that must be planned for in a capex model, as well as others related to updating and maintaining equipment. Conversely, the opex model and “buy” route only require that businesses pay licensing or subscription fees for the solution they buy. Maintenance and infrastructure are responsibilities on the vendor side, meaning small businesses can mitigate their cost exposure.
Building a video conferencing and communication system would also mean hiring highly skilled IT talent. For small businesses, expanding the workforce at such a large and costly rate isn’t a possibility at their current scale. But working with a vendor of a screen sharing and video call platform can net them expert IT services at a cost that’s factored into their licensing or subscription fee.
Implementation and rollout
A business communication system is a critical piece of IT infrastructure, so it’s all the more important that the implementation and rollout are planned for carefully. At a basic level, small businesses must have the IT talent who can run an implementation, or at least partner with a vendor who can take the project management reins of the implementation so business leaders can focus on their work, while still being involved and informed of progress or technical needs.
The rollout to staff is a vital stage of the implementation. The “last mile” concept in package delivery is that no matter how smooth 99% of the process has gone, that last 1% will determine success. If a package has made it through every checkpoint, but the drive from one facility to the customer’s doorstep is delayed, it could negatively impact the entire experience.
The logistics of an implementation are complex, undoubtedly, but the same truth applies. If the rollout is botched, and users can’t realize the value of video conferencing once the solution is live, return on investment may be affected.
To that end, staff training and education is essential to making video conferencing work for your small business. The best screen sharing platforms have robust feature sets; ensuring your employees are familiar with the controls and use cases will set them up to succeed with the solution and run video calls like a pro in no time.
To achieve that level of enablement, however, business leaders have to take training seriously. A single email with a couple pointers isn’t enough. There need to be in-person sessions in the introductory phase, and then subsequent follow-ups. As to the substance of the training itself, it needs to be engaging and interactive — think quizzes or video tutorials.
Businesses need insight into the performance of their video conferencing service, so don’t forget the role of data reporting and analytics when researching software options. Looking at usage rates among the workforce may, for example, reveal lack of video conferencing use by certain departments. Managers can then probe the issue — perhaps the team needed more training — and find a solution.
It’s particularly important to question a vendor on the data reporting they provide. Insights gleaned from patterns in usage data can help businesses make more effective use of their investment, and you’ll want to make sure your vendor can deliver those insights.
There are plenty more considerations for when you’re setting up a business communication system, but the above represents the core factors to address. Cost, implementation planning, training and data reporting are all crucial to businesses during the search for a platform. Looking for a solution to drive this performance and value? Cisco Webex has a reliable screen sharing solution to facilitate better sales calls. Get started with a free plan today.
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Mar 02, 2020 — Sri Srinivasan, SVP and GM, Team Collaboration Group at Cisco
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