Videoconferencing is clearly a technology in a growth phase—the number of cloud and device options are on the rise for businesses of all sizes, as is the popularity of the platform in today’s BYOD, mobile workforce. As the scales begin to tip in favor of remote workers—with a recent Gallup poll reporting that the average worker is telecommuting two days per month and 34 percent of global business leaders predicting half of their full-time employees will be working remotely by 2020—the culture shift is evident.
After deciding to embrace videoconferencing, the next logical question for businesses surrounds options. What is the best choice: A strict in-house collaboration software system? What about the hardware component? Do you really need it? Should your business just take its videoconferencing needs to the cloud? What are the risks? Does a hybrid videoconferencing structure, a mixture of cloud and in-house elements, offer the best of both worlds or become too complex in the end? Let’s take a look.
What is Hybrid Videoconferencing?
A hybrid videoconferencing setup utilizes multiple platforms, including any combination of public or private cloud with internal infrastructure such as hardware and software elements.
Cloud. Cloud applications are everywhere in today’s tech landscape; the platform has grown increasingly popular because it is widely accessible and relatively cost-effective. Cloud’s prominence is enhanced by the software-as-a-service (SaaS) shift, which takes traditionally in-house applications and moves them to public or private cloud platforms. Cloud also plays well with mobile devices, making it attractive in today’s BYOD workforce. Security and reliability questions can arise, though, when third-party applications (however gated) are loaded with company data.
Hardware. Hardware-only systems aren’t a viable option today due to the prominence of mobility in the (sometimes remote) workplace. However, hardware components can be integral parts of a hybrid setup when telephones and traditional meeting spaces are used regularly for collaboration.
Software. Extra sensitive or proprietary data that businesses owners are reluctant to send to the cloud make in-house software options attractive for some types of businesses, like those in the financial or healthcare industries.
Will hybrid videoconferencing work for my business?
To determine if hybrid videoconferencing is a good choice for your business, ask yourself the following questions:
How complex is your current IT infrastructure? If your needs are relatively simple and your company is small, cloud alone can likely suffice (unless you want to make sure all calls are recorded, in which case you’ll want to keep it partly in-house). If you anticipate high call volumes or need real-time access components, a combination of cloud and in-house components could be the best choice.
Do you often work with highly sensitive data? If so, on-premise infrastructure can provide added security for those private conversations. Whether or not to mix use of in-house platforms with cloud applications will depend on your company’s relationship with mobile and need for flexibility.
Do you have the staff to handle an on-premise only structure? One benefit to cloud-based videoconferencing is that the managed service provider (if one is being used) generally provides the staff skilled to support, manage and maintain the cloud equipment and programs. This releases the burden on in-house IT.
In the end, you should choose a videoconferencing structure for your business the same way you vet prospective employees—by comparing the needs of your company to the potential candidate’s aptitude to fulfill them. In many cases, hybrid videoconferencing solutions can offer what traditional hiring models cannot—the ability to choose the best traits from several sources that will most adequately fill your open role. When you bring any new person or technology on board, though, there are risks that must be mitigated in order to get the most out your company’s investment. If you’re considering a hybrid videoconferencing model and have vetted it properly against the needs of your business, there is great potential for success.