Video conferencing is a type of groupware that allows interactive communication from different locations linked together using telecommunication technologies and video. It's a great way to bring people together in a conference setting without having to rely on all participants being in the same city at the same time.
Small business users shouldn't underestimate the flexibility of more domestic solutions. Often referred to as video calling rather video conferencing, services such as Skype, which has a full multi-user video dial-in, could be a great way to get started with video conferencing. iChat for the Mac is another quick, low-tech approach to communication.
However, if you're looking to get the most out of video conferencing on a business scale then it pays to invest in a full-blown solution. Here we look at some of the best video conferencing tools for your business.
MegaMeeting uses a completely web-based browser solution, so you won't need to install any software to use it. It's a powerful solution that offers a host of features, not just video chat, such as the ability to share PowerPoints, Docs and website links without the need to upload anything. What's more, it offers supports for screen, application and desktop sharing, so you can make meetings fully rounded by being able to share ideas and tools as though you were in a meeting room together.
TelePresence is owned and run by Cisco, who know a more than a few things about running online services, and is ideally aimed at the more corporate or larger business. Capable of handling HD video as well as SD, you'll be able to set up a meeting as easy as making a phone call.
The service uses Cisco IP-based phones with a telephone interface, rather than a complicated remote control, will the integration with enterprise groupware solutions (such as Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes) accommodates easy scheduling of meetings and access to rooms and resources. For larger meetings, you can even have up to 48 in different locations log in and participate in the meeting.
CityIS may well be worth checking out if you're looking for a localised version of the TelePresence solution, as the company uses the same infrastructure. The company offers fully-integrated systems and products that enhance existing meeting rooms, to always-on, always-available desktop video, with familiar tools and business-quality performance.