NEW technologies make the world smaller. In addition to saving time and money, they result in new business opportunities like videoconferencing, which allows communication via simultaneous two-way transmission of audio and video, and which, as a result of technological developments, is being made available to an increasingly wider scope of people.
Businesses providing videoconferencing services in Slovakia cite cutting costs and time as the biggest advantages of videoconferencing, while they say the absence of personal contact, non-verbal signals and direct feedback from participants are among the disadvantages.
Martin Durov, product manager at GTS Slovensko, believes that it is still preferable to have the first meeting with a new business partner in person.
“Still, even today, nothing can replace shaking hands and the ‘feeling’ you gain when joining all the senses,” Durov told The Slovak Spectator, adding that the next meeting can be held via videoconference.
According to Martin Čerňák, the manager of the Office division of Microsoft Slovakia, which employs approximately 80 people, citing the financial director of Microsoft Slovakia, video-communication saves the branch 22 percent of its annual travel and telecommunication costs, also thanks to the use of videoconferencing equipment.
The development in technology is also reducing the technical requirements for videoconferencing equipment.
Čerňák told The Slovak Spectator that in simpler cases a computer connected to the internet with an embedded web camera, which is nowadays a common feature of all notebooks, is enough.
When requirements are higher there is a variety of equipment that can transfer audio and video between conference participants, as well as dedicated conference rooms equipped with optimised acoustics, full HD screens, a fibre-optic internet connection and so on.
Durov confirms that requirements for videoconferencing are decreasing.
“Many producers of traditional videoconferencing systems require special videoconferencing rooms,” said Durov, adding that there are special requirements for transmission capacities. “But very good results can also be achieved in common meeting rooms or offices by sticking to recommendations, like the person being filmed by the camera not sitting in front of the window.”
Durov added there are also codecs, which are devices or computer programmes capable of encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal, enabling HD quality. These are also common on networks including the public internet.
All these factors have boosted interest in Slovakia in videoconferencing services. Durov explains that this is because people have less time to travel, want to save on travel costs and that the service has become more accessible. The situation in neighbouring countries is similar.
“Companies are starting to realise that videoconferencing is a very effective way of communication, which often fully substitutes personal meetings,” said Durov, adding that saving time and money are the two major reasons why companies use it.
Durov specified that nowadays it is possible to order videoconferencing as a service, which means that rather than buy expensive equipment, a company can order the service and pay for it on a monthly basis. The company must decide how many meeting rooms it needs to outfit with videoconferencing equipment, and other employees can join videoconferences via computers, tablets or smart phones.
With regards to interest in videoconferencing services, there are no particular sectors for which they are the most useful.
“A company that needs videoconferencing services is usually a company with several branches, or a company that is regularly communicating with business partners,” said Durov.
With regards to the next trends, experts anticipate that every common computer and mobile device will be suitable for high quality videoconferencing. Durov added that now it is already common for laptops, tablets and smart phones to be powerful enough to provide HD quality.
Čerňák expects that the arrival of cloud services will ‘democratise’ videoconferencing services. Their availability will no longer be limited by the high costs of videoconferencing equipment, and lower monthly fees will make them available to the wider public.
1. Apr 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff