The Videoconferencing PayoffBy Elizabeth Bennett | Posted 2002-01-01 Email Print
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Is videoconferencing really the answer? Find out when and how it actually pays off.
The three most popular methods of videoconferencingin-house, hosted public rooms and managed servicesrange widely in ease of use and total cost of ownership. Each, of course, is significantly better than a face-to-face meeting: A quarterly get-together of 20 executives costs nearly three times as much as the highest videoconferencing alternative.
After the initial investment, the most cost-efficient choice is the in-house setup, in which a company installs and maintains the network and equipment and manages call-monitoring and scheduling. Even used as infrequently as four times per year, an in-house solution pays off versus other options in two years. But buying does not imply usage, warns Gartner Inc. analyst Donald Stuart. And many companies fail to invest in dedicated staff, whose presence facilitates use, he says.
Companies that lack the resources to manage systems, or are unsure of the potential return, can hire hosting or managed services. Hosting firms lease out space and organize calls in public conference rooms. The host provides all equipment and manages call connections, monitoring and troubleshooting. As with in-house conferencing, only the initiating caller pays the transmission fee. This option requires the least commitment, but the high connectivity charges make it less appealing as the number of meetings increases.
A managed-services firm will set up and run a company's systems on sitean expensive but convenient option. Such contractors sell or lease systems, install and maintain the network and equipment, and monitor calls. Feesincluding connection chargesare typically based on a flat monthly rate, so the return improves with use.
Learn the basics of videoconferencing security at