By Dave Pelland

More powerful mobile devices, easier-to-use apps and a stronger desire to stay connected from nearly anywhere are combining to increase the popularity of mobile videoconferencing and collaboration among small businesses.

Adding video can make a conference call more personal and productive, and smartphones and tablets offer an easy and powerful alternative to desktop-based videoconferencing (let alone dedicated conferencing equipment).

In many cases, launching a video call is no more difficult than dialing a voice call, making videoconferencing a routine event for a growing number of small business owners and team members.

Connected Advantages

Mobile videoconferences offer a number of potential advantages over conference calls, starting with the stronger connection participants gain from being able to see each other during a call.

Videoconferencing also provides an easy way to meet with team members in different locations, or to collaborate with customers or contract workers based outside of your office.

In addition, scheduling a quick video conference can help you avoid the cost, time and hassle of arranging an in-person meeting to cover basic needs (such as a progress update or answering some simple questions). Mobile videoconferencing offers a cost-effective strategy for staying connected and productive.

Flexible Apps

Depending on your needs, there is a wide range of apps and services that can help you collaborate via videoconference. At the basic end of the spectrum, where cost and convenience are among the most important considerations, you can use built-in video chat apps such as FaceTime or Google Hangouts for simple-to-use conferences.

These apps will allow you to see and hear the other party, and Google Hangouts offers the ability to include up to 10 people in a conference.

One downside of these apps, however, is that participants won't be able to share files during a conference. For that and other collaboration features, you'll need a more advanced service such as ClickMeeting, BlueJeans, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting and similar choices.

Most services offer document sharing, text chat, whiteboards and other features designed to help people share ideas and collaborate. These features are probably easier to use (and more effective) using the larger screen of a tablet device than squinting at a smartphone screen.

Most of these services are platform-independent, so you can conduct a meeting with participants using a blend of iOS, Android and other mobile devices.

In addition, dedicated services typically support a larger number of users than a built-in video chat application. Most are available on a monthly or annual subscription, with costs varying by features and the length of your agreement with the service.

Videoconferencing Tips

Regardless of the device or service you select, however, a few suggestions can make videoconferencing more effective:

  • Charge your battery or plug in your device. Enough said.
  • Place your device in a stand. Trying to hand-hold a device will result in a jittery image for the other participants.
  • Try to participate in a bright room, or near a window. Better lighting will make it easier for people to see you and improve the overall experience.
  • Check your background before your call. You don't want to distract team members with a cluttered office or background.

By adding mobile videoconferencing to your communications and collaboration toolbox, you'll stay better connected and productive from nearly anywhere.

Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

 


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank or its affiliates.