Often videoconferencing blogs are focused on selling one´s own product. There is another kind of blog that is very popular and it focuses on FAQs or frequently asked questions. You know... my screen is black what do I do type scenerios. One is created to sell, another to give tech support but what about considerations for a channel partner and their customers that go beyond the "great innovative product" and "tech support" argument? There are too few.
Channel partner strategies are so secret one would think they are so revolutionary that when the specific vendor rolls out his/her channel strategy that they will capture the entire world of resellers in one great swoop and 1000s of customers without coming up for air. The reality is quite the opposite. Most channel strategies are about filling segments of the "pie" eg. AV-integrators, Distributors and Value Added Resellers with the more the merrier model. In the end the channel strategy runs it´s course and for most this means lower profit margins, more neighborhood competition and less satisfied customers and partners.
Lets look at this from two sides of the coin 1-Channel Partner and 2-The End User.
1-The Channel Partner can very well come from any of those segments of the "Pie" however they are or should be most focused on the following areas:
a-Increases in Average Revenue Per
b-Strong product Mix
c-Cost of Sales
d-Increased Hit Rates
e-Increases in revenue per customer
g-Increases in sale of core product
h-Increases in overall Gross Profit
Each of these points one can go in depth on to discuss and is somewhat dependent on the make up of the sales staff. Not all videoconferencing reseller channels have a specific core product other than a specific product group made up of several brands. However with the market entry of VideoConferencing as a Service (VCaaS) these new clouds are helping sell core product. Easymeeting.net goes as far as offering suggestions of hardware bundles for desktop and conferencing rooms which goes in line with selling "core product" strategy and consideration.
One of the great challenges has been scalability and not necessarily only from a product perspective but from a sales and tech support perspective. Yes Polycom, LifeSize, Cisco etc... have global support centers from a tech perspective but not all have the scalability to support channel partners with little experience in selling videoconferencing products. What the main players have done is put the sales teams through training sessions however the customer needs and the technical requirements in order for video to work on a said network change as fast as the technology itself. There is not a day that goes by that I do not personally receive a question regarding something from a tech or use perspective that I have never heard before. A year in technology is a lifetime in other businesses. One has to consider how their sales staff will be supported locally and globally on deals.
The customer and what they are looking for and what benefits videoconferencing can provide are as numerous as blades of grass in a farmers field. Those ranking at the top can be summarized in one larger grouping - this grouping I call "Better Time". Save time, money, increases in collaboration and productivity, cutting the carbon footprint and a positive return on investment in months or even weeks are key. Add seeing body language while having a video call as very important. 60% of the way "you" are received is based on your body language only 6% based on what you hear. 94% in all is based on what one sees. Hummm so how important is a teleconference now?
Customers once bought on the notion of purchasing videoconferencing need to know in relatively simple terms "how does this support my company when I grow?"...and "how fast and easy is it to add more users?"... Can I use my laptop, MAC, smart phone and tablet or bring your own device "BYOD" ?
Channel Partners are looking for added and increased revenue streams while customers are looking to make an investment in something that will save them time and money while at the same time giving them an immediate ROI making them a champion internally. When selecting a videoconferencing service it is important to look at all of the points from a to n and all of the sub-points. Risk Reduction alone is a key factor in selection of new product for your portfolio. With VCaaS services there is no CAPEX (infra investment & development) needed as this is already made available by your VCaaS provider.
For Channel Partners and Customers there is an old addage that says "aim small, miss small" and this is something that Channel Partners and vendors across the globe have missed out on. It is better to get some business than no business - not every customer needs everything now... let them start small, show the benefits on a smaller scale and grow with the company. Customers start small, adopt into your internal communications practices and watch your investment pay for itself.
-Try it out 14 days
I always start my morning with a cup of coffee as soon as I get to the office. Sometimes, as soon as I walk in the front door I head for the keurig(aka my best friend) and fire things up. However, this Thursday morning--- my day began with a different kind of jolt.
One of our channels was pitching to a rather large customer who has been searching for a way to bring 25 endpoints together, specifically with the capability of a high quality call from and to iPads. In our initial introduction, you would tell that they hardly believed us, "Oh yea we can do that, no problem"!
So as every good sales person does, they asked to see it. And we showed them. Now, being an International company means that we are not all typically in our offices at the same time. I normally have til about 10am EST to chat with our Norwegian counterparts - so we started early- and this, is what happened.
- 1-6. Polycom System, Lifesize System, 3 Radvision Systems,and a Droid Phone, in Tromso Norway
- 7-8. Lifesize System and a Radvision System in Oslo, Norway
- 9-11. Mac Laptop, iPhone, and a Lifesize System in Stockholm Sweden
- 12-13. ZTE System and a Droid Phone from Berkshire, UK
- 14-23. 4 Radvision Systems, 1 Lifesize System, 2 Mac's, an iPad, an iPhone and a PC from Mystic, CT
- 24. Lifesize Softphone in Buffalo, New York
- 25. Radvision System in Santa Cruz California
Thats 16 standard videoconferencing systems, and 9 Mobile Devices, captured below in an iPad Screen shot. And yes, as you can see below- we have room for three more endpoints on continuous presence!
The real beauty of this is how easy it was. We pulled together an ad hoc meeting in less than 15 minutes with 25 endpoints, from four different countires in 5 different time zones. Anyone who knows traditional video, knows that to create this kind of call would have required your company a large monetary investment on the infrastructure, hiring an IT whiz, or an entire department to handle the calls, a whole lotta' bandwidth piped into your office, and probably a lot of planning. With Easymeeting's managed videoconferencing as a service offering-- it was easy, peasy, lemon squeezy- at a quite literally, a fraction of the cost!
If this kind of show stopping technology doesn't wake you up in the morning- than their isn't a coffee in the world that will get you excited about anything at work. But we get pretty excited about what we do here at Easymeeting.net, and I just couldn't not share this particular proof of concept with our readers.
If you want give it a try yourself, check out our free 14 day trial. We can help you find the services that are going to enable your company to work efficiently, and internationally, without having to leave your home office, or your praised Keurig machine. Don't be afraid to reach out to our team during the trial process and ask how we can help solve specific problems in your company by connecting over the cloud!
One of the biggest questions surrounding videoconferencing is not what the benefit is but the real return on investment and how to capture that information in real time. Since the beginning of "videoconferencing time" when the first systems were delivered to large enterprises as the latest, greatest in new communications technology videoconferencing has always been sold with the perceived benefit being "reductions in travel expenditures..." as more players entered the market the argument had to be re-enforced with additional arguments that still range from "increases in productivity, distance learning, better collaboration, and increases in productivity". However a well skilled "naysayer" to making the capex (capital expenditure) was and has been "well we need to increase bandwidth" and "it has to work over existing infrastructure/internet but if we need to boost our MPLS to support it... forget it...!" and so. Easily brushed off. Then add the fact the videoconferencing CAPEX has been made by an IT manager and the system is solely for "key meetings" use and the majority of companies never realized a positive ROI as the real beneficiaries have never been trained or allowed to use the system.
Over the past few years several providers from usually outside of the industry (non videoconferencing vendors) have offer measuring tools that show how often a system is used, even how many miles/kilometers have been "not traveled" and prior to the world economic crisis -Co2 emissions / carbon footprint data directly connected to you, the user not traveling on that plane. All great tools, all with some degree of success in proving return on investment (ROI) but none have really been able to funnel all of this information in one vertical portal (vortal). The folks behind easymeeting.net have thought about this and created their own corporate portal which is a tool that allows users, travel managers and of course CFO´s to monitor use of their videoconferencing systems. By comparing usage data from period to period one can see how often videoconferencing has been used and then can easily match it to their monthly travel expenditures report. Time Well Spent!
Additionally there are "soft ROI" features that should be considered. These are not necessarily those type that give an immediate bottom line savings but help support a long term ROI strategy for a company. The corporate portal affords in addition to drill down usage statistics, FAQ´s and Support information, frequently used videoconferencing numbers / systems by system and location as well as an announcement message board for users to post important messages and reminders. The corporate portal also affords a WebTV archive. WebTV is the recording service offered to easymeeting.net customers and the archive allows the user to store important video presentations. The connections center gives in depth information on sharing presentations and documents and more.
Security: Most Corporate Portal users require a user name and password as per internal corporate security to some if not all of the areas within the corporate portal. Many leave the main landing page open and simply require security for WEBTV, Connections, etc...
Examples of Success: easymeeting.net has a Fortune 500 strategic partner whom had a mix of hardware based videoconferencing systems from Tandberg to Polycom. With more than 90 global offices they were using videoconferencing less than 4 hrs per month across the globe. Once they became strategic partners of easymeeting.net they quickly became rabid users of the videoconferencing services and portal. As of today they average more than 100 meetings a month in Scandinavia alone! I am sure their ROI has been met! Why? they can monitor the use by location, they have a layer of easy to use services applied to their existing videoconferencing services and have embedded video meetings into their daily communications methodology!
Not until now has there been such a ROI tool with both hard and soft ROI features and one that helps the user have a great experience. If you would like to learn more about the easymeeting.net corporate portal please contact easymeeting.net by clicking here
As communication improves much in thanks to the internet, the world as our parents use to say "is getting smaller" and it is. While there are pockets of global collaboration between schools in the United States and the world the greatest challenge other than time zones has been shockingly enough technology and it´s related costs.
Global collaboration has long been localized in the wealthiest of school systems and this not just isolated to the United States but everywhere. School budgets are being slashed or are not scaling with the growth and needs of the ever changing world. The schools that need it most are found in areas that do not have the budgets or infrastructure in place. These students will be the majority of tomorrow´s tax payers and salary earners. Budgets and such aside...
Videoconferencing in the classroom has always been the most ideal end user for the manufacturers of videoconferencing for various reasons. From "seeding the future customer" to "being in tune" with those whom are most "comfortable with technology" and those whom ahev developed and adopted "e-learning" and "distance learning" into their teaching models. Again comes the budget, the technology, the usability factor and well for many who have not yet experienced videoconferencing the why and how.
Videoconferencing in the classroom is an evolving teaching method, albeit for the few now...but a method that students are forcing school systems to look at further. The students of today have taken their private technology into the school system and later into the workplace. They, the students are using Skype, Facetime and other free video chat tools that are the juvenile variant of video conferencing but a necessary launching pad for the future user of business quality services. According to Wainhouse Research, a leading videoconferencing research firm, about 25% of school systems in the United States now have videoconferencing of some type as a supplement to their curriculums with video education.
VideoConferencing breaks down the barriers of time, location and expense. No longer does one have to plan far ahead to schedule a meeting/call. Visual communication eliminates distance and location challenges - seeing body language. Re: expense as in investments in videoconferencing have come down significantly and via cloud services one can essentially purchase a subscription for the services and even hardware at a low monthly investment.
However as with any corporate user of videoconferencing the effectiveness of depends on the teacher and how well they utilize it. We have all seen videoconferencing system after system sitting on a shelf and full of dust. A relic of yesterday.
So what are some of the benefits other than those already given here?
- Connect remote students to their teacher (classroom or individual student)
- Knowledge Sharing (bring experts into the classroom)
- 2-way Communication
- Foster new interest and excitement into learning
- Re-foster new interest and excitement into age old subjects now considered less interesting (History, Language)
- Create visuals of specific topics (Putting a face on a topic)
- Training (Practice Language Skills)
- Visual Dialogue (See, Learn, Teach language and culture)
There are some drawbacks or perceived ones from poor infrastructure & internet quality creates poor picture quality, echo & audio issues, support and service... I call these perceived ones because with little investment most can be rectified such as improvements in internet (infrastructure) quality, Sound, Audio, Support and Service are now for the most part covered by the new wave of videoconferencing companies. With cloud based services certain providers like easymeeting.net offer service and support in all packages in their subscription models. The video host (operator on video) will help train, connect and support the classroom videoconferencing service so dust will not collect on the system.
That being said what does it cost? Well it depends on what your needs are. Many classrooms use a simple desktop version which consists of a standalone videoconferencing system (all in one) that is ideal for small groups of students which runs from the $100-200 a month range plus a basic services package (depends on size) to conference room types that include displays, mounts etc... from about $400.00 a month and up again dependent on hardware needs. Some use web based or mobile device (fewer of these due to the fact that they are pretty new) and these come in all shapes, sizes and prices depending on the number of users.
One can say it will be commonplace in the next 5-10 years for students to meet same time classrooms in Paris and Morocco while in New York practicing their french, english and exchanging dialogue on what they did, what they bought and where they are going next weekend on video.
If you feel videoconferencing in the classroom is something for you... why not reach out to a videoconferencing company near you for more information. The future is here...embrace the technology that will create a better tomorrow.