Videoconferencing has been around for many years, introduced as early as the 1960s. Only recently however is it getting much press as the technology of the future, as more and more companies are searching for ways to cut back on costs and invest in equipment that will save time and travel expenses. Videoconferencing can be used to limit travel expenses and improve inter-company and client to customer interaction and collaboration. In a global marketplace, increasingly collaboration and product to market time are becoming more critical factors related to success, thus more and more companies are looking for technology that will help facilitate this process. Videoconferencing has the ability to connect companies, facilitate collaboration and reduce overhead expenditures, thus may be considered the ultimate tool of the future.
History and Overview
Videoconferencing simply defined is the "live connection of two or more people" using a combination of vide, audio and data equipment (Zerba, 2000). Videoconferencing allows people to hold 'live' meetings from separate locations via use of video cameras or computer equipment.
Videoconferencing was developed to aid communication between people in different locations. It was seen as a tool that would allow people to interact 'face-to-face' even though the people interacting may be located across the world. In times of old people relied on more traditional methods of communication, including the mail, telephone and travel. More often than not business executives wanting to meet with clients abroad would have to arrange for expensive travel in order to hold face-to-face collaborative sessions. No more, thanks to videoconferencing. Now international clients can meet face-to-face using video equipment, hold live meetings and even strategic planning sessions using simple equipment.
Videoconferencing was founded with the intention of facilitating greater communication between two parties, business or otherwise. It works by enabling a "live connection" between people wishing to communicate over distance "through the use of video, audio and data equipment" (Zerba, 2000). Videoconferencing was first developed in the mid 1960s and introduced by AT& T Corporation (Wemmett, 1997; Zerba, 2000). At the time it was introduced, it did not take off and was not very popular, because the need for collaboration across great distances was not as great as it is today. Because of the increasing presence and power of the global marketplace, more and more companies are seeking out ways to increase their bottom line, reduce expenses and improve lines of communication, all things that can be made possible thanks to videoconferencing.
Analysis of Technology
How does videoconferencing work? During a videoconference users connect through the use of digital and audio recording equipment. They are allowed to transmit video recordings of live meetings and conference using same time technology. Today's entrepreneurs are able to utilize many different peripheral tools and materials which help impact the presentation, "making it interesting and instructive" (THE, 2002). Videoconferencing isn't simply listening to a pre-recorded meeting. Today it involves a live interface where group members can see each other and participate one on one, no matter their location. For this reason it is becoming increasingly popular.
Among the peripherals currently being used include use of color slides and the ability of users to play interactive games; among the more innovative peripheral pieces of equipment include "wireless cameras and audio systems that allow someone to teach or inform from on location to another" (THE, 2002).
The Future of Video Conferencing
Videoconferencing is becoming more and more popular; many business are turning to the new technology in light of rapidly rising travel costs, and global employees and business partners are taking advantage of the technology to communicate one on one (Totot, 2001). People are turning to videoconferencing as an alternative to face-to-face meetings, especially in light of concerns associated with terrorism and travel (Toto, 2001). Videoconferencing also allows participants to communicate and interact in a safe, ergonomic and practical environment. The technology is easy to use, and once trained virtually anyone can use the technology to their advantage.
The most common form of videoconferencing being utilized is the H.320, which allows point-to-point videoconferencing and communications, a technology developed in the early 1990s (Zerba, 2000). This product uses a circuit-switched network to deliver conferencing capabilities to users (Zerba, 2000). A more advanced version of this, the H.232 is a fully featured conferencing package that enables conferencing over multiple IP networks such as LANs and the internet, allowing lower cost desktop conferencing for larger populations (Zerba, 2000).