According to the Cisco Visual Network Index, video will make up the majority of the content moving over the internet by next year. Businesses are realising that integrating more teleconferencing into their enterprises can deliver cost savings and overall efficiency boosts.
But it's important to appreciate that as the use of videoconferencing grows, the effective management of IP networks becomes crucial.
As Cisco comments: "As video grows, it will shape networks. They will get larger to handle the volume of traffic and proliferation of video-enabled devices, and smarter to handle the demands of video application — latency, distribution, management and interoperability — that can only be optimised at the network level. Both of these forces will give rise to the emergence of next generation networks optimised for video."
Another key driver with teleconferencing is the burgeoning use of 'bring your own device', with many of these devices able to handle videoconferencing. The additional burden that this places on a business' IP network should not be underestimated.
For instance, a video call can use up to 200 times more bandwidth than a voice call. With multiple video calls occurring simultaneously, the bandwidth of a business can become seriously compromised very quickly.
Small enterprises may have a number of satellite offices and use a wide area network (WAN) for their staff to communicate through videoconferencing.
As this can place a heavy strain on the network, it is always a 'must' to optimise the WAN to ensure a solid connection.
There are a number of techniques that can be used to achieve this:
- Using the cloud - The cloud now delivers a platform that is easily accessible and scalable, offering the kind of flexibility with teleconferencing services for which many businesses are looking.
- Choose applications that offer interoperability - Applications such as Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting offer their own platforms. Assess which teleconferencing applications are being used in your business and standardise on one platform for better efficiency and optimisation.
- Move to IP based services - Look at your business's overall telecoms infrastructure. It will often be based on PBX exchanges, and moving to IP based telephony has the knock on effect of enabling your network for efficient teleconferencing.
- Use scalable applications and services - As a business grows its use of teleconferencing will also expand. Optimise the applications in use by ensuring they can be scaled to accommodate any number of users.
- Upgrade the local and wide area networks - The single most effective way to improve teleconferencing services is to upgrade the network they are running over. Audit your business's networks now and identify where improvements in bandwidth can be made.
Teleconferencing can offer major enhancements to business productivity, but like any other business service it must be optimised to deliver its true potential. Assessing your existing business needs now and how you want to use teleconferencing in the future enables you to make the upgrades needed to release the potential that teleconferencing can bring.