I read an article recently about how video conferencing was really catching on in India, which got me thinking about why video conferencing is not as popular here in the U.S. The article, published by The Hindu (tagline: India’s National Newspaper), said that with the growing need to stay connected and be ahead of the latest developments and get a competitive edge for success, “video-conferencing has gained ground across different sectors” of Coimbatore, a major industrial city in India.
Be it engineering industries, garment units or hospitals, not only large enterprises but also medium and small-scale businesses are now accessing the technology, according to The Hindu.
In India, with an ever-increasing population and long distances to travel, video conferencing technology appears to be immensely beneficial. And with prices being what they are (India is perhaps best known these days as a major outsourcing post for high tech companies here in the U.S. who want to cut computer engineering costs while increasing the level knowledge applied to their projects and output), it seems to me that the Indian’s have figured out a way to make Video Conferencing for business affordable, scalable, and reliable.
At a core level, everyone who has ever seen a video conferencing session–be it live or demonstrated via a television advertisement–understands the huge upside to the technology. The problem for us here in this U.S. appears to be three-fold: Price, Reliability, and Perception.
As a general business application, I believe video conferencing is misunderstood. The platform’s inherent benefits, including reducing travel expenses and creating space for in-depth interaction, is so clearly offset by our perception about cost and reliability, that most small to medium size businesses appear unwilling to even give video conferencing a try or a minimal investment. The bandwidth is there–witness what a YouTube video looked on your computer monitor one year ago versus what it looks like today–so why not give it try.
I look forward to the day when we learn from India’s example and more and more small to medium size business benefit from video conferencing. In my own line of business, very few Realtors that I know of are using this technology. As I wrote on my Real Estate business blog a few weeks back:
While it is true that the vast majority of residential Real Estate transactions involve physical interaction, not all of them do. Take for instance the serious out-of-state Real Estate investor who wants to size you up before making an in-person visit, or the prospective homeowner who lives in another part of the state or is out of town on business and finds that it is more convenient to participate in a videoconferencing session than to drive 8 hours or cut short a business trip just for an initial or intermediate face-to-face encounter.
Having access to a robust and stable videoconferencing platform allows my office to offer yet another way for my customers to meet with me and my team to discuss important matters. Our high-end videoconferencing experience puts the customer in charge, which is exactly what it is like when they come to our office to meet with us in person.