Seven Simple Truths about Desktop & Mobile Video Conferencing

radvision-interoperability-0513Desktop and mobile video are all the rage right now. Every video vendor claims they have a viable solution, and there is a seemingly endless string of new entrants to the market. In such a crowded space, it’s sometimes difficult to stand out – and for those outside the industry, it’s probably even harder to cut through all the noise.

The purpose of this blog is to highlight the truth about the applications available today and call out some of the most important desktop and mobile video conferencing features.

  1. Freely downloadable in the app store doesn’t mean anyone can join your conference for free. Several vendors offer free mobile video conferencing apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores. But for many of those apps, you can’t join a call without a complex setup and licensing, and you often can’t join a call due to firewall issues. Choose a vendor whose apps are freely distributable to anyone without requiring a user-specific license key. Competing solutions often require a user-specific (or, named user) license key even for casual or one-time users.
  2. If you can’t easily join the call, you may not join at all. Many vendors’ solutions require downloads, complex licensing and registration. Look for a solution that doesn’t require this, and even better if it has embedded firewall traversal, which will allow you to join a call without calling in your IT team to assist. Ideally, you should be able to just click on the link and join the call.
  3. The benefits of video conferencing are severely diminished if you can only invite a select few. A number of mobile and desktop apps offered today are based on proprietary technologies. Only standards-based solutions enable you to speak to connect to other vendors’ standards-based systems (unless you add gateways and get a little creative). Proprietary solutions limit your connectivity to others, and gateways can add latency and produce a lower quality experience.
  4. If you can’t take advantage of audio, video and data-sharing, it’s not really collaboration. It’s important to select a solution that enables you to join by audio, video and share content. If any of these three components isn’t available, the quality of the experience is limited and collaboration is compromised. These features should be available on any device, whether you’re in a conference room, at your desk or on the go.
  5. The latest technologies don’t matter if the solution doesn’t leverage them. Some vendors’ desktop and mobile solutions don’t leverage protocols like H.264 SVC, which helps to deliver a great video experience even over “lossy” networks. Look for solutions that take advantage of the technologies available today to create the highest quality video experience regardless of how you join the call.
  6. It’s not cloud-based just because it has the word “cloud” in its name. In a recent blog, I talked about cloud-based video for SMBs. There are viable solutions in the market today, and we have partners offering hosted video. Make sure you are investing in a proven video solution that is offered either on-premises and through service providers.
  7. Everyone says they offer easy-to use mobile video, but actions speak louder than words. If your vendor can’t get you up and running on the fly with their demo, you might want to reconsider who to purchase from.

Have you tried desktop and mobile video? What recommendations do you have for those in the market today? What other “gotchas” should they consider? I’d love to hear from you.