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By Kevin Carswell, Senior Director Enterprise Application Practice Leader, and Cory Rehfeldt, Collaboration Practice Director, Logicalis US

Telehealth for medical care.  TelePresence in business. Video kiosks in retail locations. Video resumes and interviews in HR departments.  These are just a few of the ways videoconferencing is routinely used every day – and the reason video is quickly becoming the first mode of communication among consumers and businesspeople alike.

A decade ago, the routine use of video was cost prohibitive. Today, however, with affordable videoconferencing solutions like Cisco’s WebEx and Microsoft’s Skype for Business – and the fact that nearly every laptop, cell phone or handheld device has a built-in camera – video has become much more mainstream.  As a result, if you’re ready to make the switch from yesterday’s PBX onto a new unified communications platform, you’re undoubtedly looking at solutions that have built-in video capabilities.

As you start your investigation, a word of caution: We have seen numerous video implementations that never delivered their true potential because IT jumped straight from seeing the potential to implementing a solution.  If you want your videoconferencing solution to be used to the fullest, it’s important to recognize that implementing the right solution is not just about choosing the right technology. It’s about quality of service, user acceptance, and ultimately getting the return on investment the organization expects.

If the video solution you choose doesn’t meet your business goals or align with the organization’s workflow, people won’t use it. That’s why it’s so important to take a methodical approach to planning video solutions that takes into account how your organization works now, where it wants to go, the technologies that can take it there and the support services needed to encourage widespread adoption.

At Logicalis, we’ve identified a six-step model to help ensure a successful videoconferencing implementation.

Assess How the Organization Currently Communicates

Before making changes to the way your business communicates both internally and externally, it’s critical to fully understand what’s being used and how it’s being used today. Don’t just move people onto Skype for Business, for example, and rip out your prior solutions without knowing how the change will impact the business’ current workflow or you could drive productivity to a standstill during the transition.

Define the Real Business Needs

When considering videoconferencing, it’s important to work with the organization’s stakeholders to clearly identify the business needs and possible use cases for videoconferencing before discussing the technology you’ll use to deliver those capabilities.  Beyond the typical real-time, one-to-one or small group WebEx meeting, for example, possible use cases for videoconferencing today include: telehealth/teleburn/telestroke uses, video translation services, live or recorded corporate training sessions, onboarding new employees, and interactive sales and marketing tools such as webinars and product demonstrations.

Design End Points with Simplicity and Use in Mind

Today’s business users expect video communication to be second nature, as easy as making a phone call – something which is particularly true of millennials who have grown up with a variety of communications tools at their disposal.  The bottom line: If it’s hard to use or there’s a steep, unguided learning curve, user adoption will be slow or even fail entirely. Look for solutions that work seamlessly with what is already familiar to the user and keep simplicity at the forefront of any discussions about adding new technologies.

Consider Interoperability Between Vendors

Even if you install a homogenous unified computing solution enterprise-wide, that doesn’t guarantee interoperability with your customers’, suppliers’ or partners’ end points. What if, for example, you have a client in Europe using Skype for Business, but you’re using another unified communications solution? With tools like the Cisco Meeting Server powered by Acano, seamless interoperability with a variety of endpoints is now possible.

Perform Detailed Network Assessments

Now that you’ve made the decision to deploy a video conferencing solution, it’s time to find out if your network is ready for the change. This is where a comprehensive network assessment becomes a crucial next step; people will tolerate slow email, for example, but absolutely won’t use video conferencing if there are lags in either voice or video calls.

Engage a Skilled Partner

If the goal is to improve your organization’s communications processes and your return on investment in the process, consider engaging a solution provider that is skilled not only in the design and installation of video collaboration solutions, but one who also provides post-installation support services that lead the adoption effort companywide.

Want to learn more? Empowering employees to work together from anywhere at any time is the key to keeping pace in today’s marketplace; find out how you stack up against your competition by taking an online communication and collaboration quiz. Then, explore the value of unified communications, including videoconferencing, and learn more about Skype for Business as well as a variety of Cisco unified communications solutions. What is managed video collaboration – and is it right for you? Find out here: