Is Skype For Business Right For Your Company?

Last month, Microsoft released its vision video preview for Skype for Business, which suggested some major changes to ways we currently conduct business.

The video shows a wrist-worn communication device that allows you to contact colleagues on the fly. It also illustrates how Skype can help people be virtually present in the office while actually working in the field.

Skype-powered technology can integrate data into one space and share it on a big screen to facilitate brainstorming, can instantly translate speech into a number of languages, and even simulate a doctor’s house call – if what is depicted in the preview becomes a reality.

Really, nothing in Microsoft’s Skype for Business preview is all that far-fetched. Skype has already drastically changed how people keep in touch on both business and personal levels.

Presently, you can video chat with anyone, anywhere to conduct interviews or meetings. It’s not that big of a leap to envision using Skype to do these same things in the great outdoors or to integrate it with web searches and data files. The basic technology is already there; the vision video just shows some tweaks and new exciting applications.

The possibilities illustrated in the preview video highlight Microsoft’s mission to develop cross-platform technology that increases productivity.

While Skype for Business may not initially perform as seamlessly as the video leads us to believe – especially when real-time translation has yet to be perfected – there are products already advertised that do similar things.

Microsoft’s Surface Hub combines Skype with an 84-inch touchscreen display, and the HoloLens promises to take holograms and headsets to the next level.

Does Videoconferencing Make Sense For Your Company?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Science-fiction fans have long wished for life-sized communication devices that create a real-time image of the person you’re talking with.

Recently, holographic video technology has begun to surface, although at present the price means it’s restricted to only the wealthiest companies.

More realistic options when you want a face-to-face with clients across town are video conferencing and telepresence setups, like HP’s Halo solutions.

Soaring fuel prices, and the growing awareness of our carbon footprint, are encouraging the fast adoption of video conferencing among big and small companies alike.

Some businesses have even taken the line that if a video conference is possible, they won’t travel long distances for a meeting.

The advantages of video conferencing are obvious. As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

By being able to see each other, participants benefit from improved understanding and communication. Productivity goes up, travel costs are removed, and the time spent driving or flying to meetings is slashed dramatically.

The next stage
The benefits offered by video conferencing are soon to be taken to a new level by technologies like motion tracking, facial recognition and simulation, intelligent audio technologies, handheld and full-scale holographic devices, 3D monitors, stereographic camera setups, and entire-room display technologies.

Recent months have already seen the introduction of digital projectors into mobile phones.

While many of these technologies sound quite far-fetched, a lot of them will be available for regular business use in the near future.

And like most technological breakthroughs, with time many of them will also find their way into our homes. Friends and family living overseas could virtually walk in and talk with you – or share their living rooms in full detail.

Enhancing collaboration today
While holograms and other such technologies are still out of reach for most, video conferencing systems like Halo are helping organizations hold more engaging long-distance meetings that lift productivity while reducing costs.

The top-end products can include life-sized screens, crisp pictures, surround sound and even operating technicians.

A far more attractively priced option are PCs and notebooks equipped with web cameras. With free services like Skype and Webex, you can quickly and easily set up time-saving face-to-face meetings.

Collaboration and communication can be improved effortlessly, travel costs removed in an instant.

New technologies will soon revolutionize the way we communicate, but in the meantime, video conferencing can offer your business a great advantage.

Web Conferencing Services Let You Collaborate With People Around The World Without Ever Leaving Your Desk

If you have a far flung work force – or clients all over the country – a web conferencing service will save you time and money.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular web based conferencing tools.

They’re all the best at what they can do for the price, and all are simple and easy to use.I’ve tested all of them – you can’t go wrong choosing any one of these services.

The interesting thing is, if you’ve ever taken online training, or had a support technician connect up to your computer, you’ve probably used one of these services without even knowing it!

WebEx – $49 month
WebEx is the most well known of the three here. WebEx was created by Cisco, who is known for their high end security solutions.

This application is the best that I have tested. You are able to share screens, files, schedule video conferences in Outlook, and you can even pass the (presenter) title from one person to the next so each participant can focus on the person making the presentation.

WebEx supports multiple video streams, so you can view up to six people in a single meeting. WebEx also has mobile capability so you can join the meeting while using your iPad or even on your smartphone.

GoToMeeting – $49 month
GoToMeeting is focused just on desktop sharing, and does not support video sharing via webcam.

The presenter has several presentation tools available, from the ability to draw on the screen to highlighting text. The presenter can only show his desktop, but has the ability to hand over control to their desktop to any of the guests in the conference.

This gives the guests the ability to highlight something they think is important to the others users in the room.

The best feature is the ability to record the conference and store it for a later use.

Adobe ConnectNow – Free
Basic version – enhanced version is $15 month

Adobe ConnectNow is a web based tool with document sharing. You can share your screen, share documents, convert documents to PDF files, and also create workspaces to share documents in.

ConnectNow supports the ability to have a private chat and also leave the chat open to the public.

Like all the other tools Adobe ConnectNow does have the ability to allow others to take over and share audio and video. This tool is the newest out of the three, but runs with the best of them.

These are only a few web conferencing solutions that are available. Each one will install with ease so even the novice user can get this software up and running quickly and easily.