When you face shrinking budgets, videoconferencing can seem a double-edged sword: It offers the potential to cut costs and improve communication, but also requires an investment in setup and maintenance. How can you measure your return on investment (ROI)?
Before you get into the math—especially if you’re starting from scratch—you need to understand both what you want to measure and your current benchmarks, as well as the best type of system to invest in.
The Hard and Soft Costs of Videoconferencing
Reducing travel spend is one of the most cited reasons for the move to videoconferencing, cutting hard costs like hotels, airfare, ground transportation, and meal allowances.
However, the impact of videoconferencing on soft costs is much broader. When considering travel expenses, for example, soft costs also include lost productivity due to both travel and recovery time, as well as hardships to workers like pet or child care costs and home security.
• Improves collaboration and productivity across remote teams; picking up on nonverbal cues via video leads to fewer miscommunications.
• Enables higher-quality interaction, even at a distance, with clients and potential customers.
• Facilitates hiring, training, and retention—especially for remote workers; measuring the benefits of a good hire or employee satisfaction can be a challenge, but it’s no secret that replacing someone is costly.
• Cuts delays that stem from trying to coordinate travel and scheduling for in-person meetings.
• Reduces the risk of “shadow IT,” especially among younger workers who are more likely to turn to consumer-grade systems if an organization doesn’t provide the tools they need to do their work effectively.
These secondary benefits can be harder to quantify, but are incredibly important for competitive businesses; they revolve around work efficiency, productivity, and collaboration—factors that might be harder to put a dollar value on, but which can ultimately make or break your business.
Managing the Expense of a Videoconferencing System
Once you’ve identified what factors you want to improve, you can look at the systems available to decide what type of videoconferencing service will meet both your needs and your budget.
Onsite or hosted. One of the first and most important things to consider is whether an onsite or hosted videoconferencing solution will fit your organization best. An onsite solution involves upfront expenses for hardware and infrastructure, and gives you full control over the videoconferencing system—if you have the expertise on-hand to launch and maintain it successfully. A hosted model typically distributes costs over time, and includes support, maintenance, and even training. Additional costs with either system may include network upgrades, bandwidth consumption, training, and operational support.
Employee adoption. End user adoption is a critical factor if your organization is going to see any return on its investment, whatever factors you hope to measure—but it’s easy to get wrapped up in technical and deployment details while forgetting the users themselves. Take a closer look at how videoconferencing will help your team work better and faster, then clearly community the benefits and how to use the system. This also speaks to troubleshooting once the system has rolled out; if people know how to use it, but find it unreliable or of poor quality, your ROI will sink. If you aren’t keeping track of use and experience, you won’t understand why your system is failing.
Use Analytics to Automate ROI Calculation
A growing number of companies are using new video analytics platforms to automatically calculate their videoconferencing ROI. These platforms can track quality, usage patterns, and cost allocation, troubleshooting and analysis, as well as the details of your infrastructure and system management. By tracking this information, an analytics platform can help identify rate of adoption, how and where workers prefer to conduct meetings, and how that pattern fits your existing videoconferencing solution (i.e. whether room-based setups or cloud-based options are more effective).
The ROI of videoconferencing isn’t impossible to track, but it does require thought and customization. Taking a broad view of its impact will help identify both direct and secondary benefits so you get a truer sense of the ROI for your organization.