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Video Conferencing

One of my clients is the perfect buyer for a full featured video conferencing solution.  They are a small(ish) biotech company with their corporate head office here in Vancouver and much of their clinical/medical team in a remote office in Seattle.  

Every time I turn around, one or more of the Seattle office people are up here in Vancouver for meetings (or vice versa).  These meetings are hugely expensive – a senior medical-type person driving 3ish hours to Vancouver, often the night before, staying in a hotel, having the meeting(s), then driving home.  Direct cost for that person in the meeting ends up being 1-2 days (depending on if there’s an overnight), plus mileage, meals and hotel costs.  Add what they COULD be doing, and you end up with 2-4 days wages + costs.  INSANE. 

They already have some pretty skookum telephone conferencing equipment setup – and it works great for updates and short meetings, but it just doesn’t work, as there’s no face-to-face interaction. 

So I’ve been spending time looking at video conferencing solutions.  There are a few emerging software products out there, but they still don’t quite make the cut for multipoint conferencing.  AllStream offers a product that can do it in software (including multiple streaming clients), but they were surprizingly expensive.  They’re also not well suited for “boardrooms”.

We’ve been taking a close look at solutions from PolyCom and Tandberg.  At first, the pricing made me gulp – we’re looking at $25K+ for our two offices.  But if you do the math based on the costs I listed above, ROI on $25K is awfully short. 

So far, the Tandberg system seems to be the superior product.  It’s simpler, has more features and provides a better “whole solution” than what I saw form PolyCom.  The vendor also has done a far superior job of thinking about the whole picture and how they can provide a better solution than their competition (while keeping budget in mind). 

Have you had experience with either unit?

One Response to “Video Conferencing”

  1. kqs Says:

    Have used Polycom with the last company I worked for. Works pretty good. Head Office was based in Houston and had a Tandberg system and some of the remote sites, including the one I was responsible for had Polycom. We were able to communicate seemlessly between the units. The tandberg how bridging capabilites and it was good and bridging our calls between the UK/Trinidad/Canada sites. Video Conferencing is the way to go now with the cost of air travel and gas prices.

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