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?