Video conferencing is one of the best communication tools developed to date; it could be argued that the only form of communication that is better than video conferencing is talking to a person face-to-face. Video conferencing allows people to interact with one another no matter the distance between them; a person in Japan can easily talk face-to-face to someone in Canada easily through the virtual environment provided via video conferencing and the Internet.

The advantages to being able to communicate instantly over long distances has been known for quite some time; the telephone has been around for over a hundred years and is still used as the primary communication tool for just about everyone living in a technologically inclined society.

But a telephone only transmits voice, and sometimes not even very well, whereas video conferencing transmits a video of a person, allowing for more in-depth communication and understanding. Humans communicate through verbal and non-verbal means, and a great deal of understanding is lost through voice only communication. Humans need to see each other in order to have a more complete understanding of someone else’s message.

According to Mobile Office, non-verbal cues are an important aspect of business communication. Taking hints from people’s body language and facial expressions can allow the speaker to tailor their message to fit the mood of the listener. Additionally, employers can use facial tics and body language to catch employees being less than truthful.

In the Past

Even though video conferencing is a revolutionary form of communication, it wasn’t always as accessible as it is now. In the past, video conferencing at a business level required thousands of dollars of specialized equipment that could take up an entire room. The participants would need to be in a special conference room where they could be on camera while the other end did the same. Conferencing through personal computers has been available since the early 1990s, but high quality video and audio didn’t appear until 2005.

While video conferencing is beneficial in almost every aspect you could think of, it hasn’t always been practical. For quite some time, video conferencing was limited to large businesses as the cost of the equipment and the space needed to house the system made it a viable option for those businesses that had the resources. Its usefulness to consumers was also limited due to technology; the consumer needed a computer powerful enough to run the program and an Internet connection capable of dealing with the higher bandwidth usage of video and audio, and until the advent of high definition, the quality of the video could be quite horrendous.

In the past, a telephone call was arguably cheaper and easier to deal with than trying to use video conferencing. Yet video conferencing is more prevalent today than ever before, and that is partially due to the revolution in the mobile market. The invention of the smartphone and tablet revolutionized the way people communicate and interact with technology on a day-to-day basis.

With smartphones, people had computers powerful enough to easily handle high quality video and audio without any issue, alongside the ever increasing power provided through phone networks. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, video conferencing become far more viable and attractive to small businesses and private consumers.

The Cloud

The Cloud is one of the more recent developments of the Internet; it’s basically a network of servers that allow users to store data or utilize a service without an intermediary hardware. According to Mashable, each server that is connected to the cloud serves a different purpose, some are for data storage while others run services that users can access through subscription fees.

Services like SkyDrive and Dropbox are cloud based services, meaning they don’t require the user to actually have any sort of hardware in order to use them (besides a computer or phone to access the service). Thanks to the cloud, video conferencing services no longer require a huge, sophisticated setup confined to a single conference room.

Conferencing services like Blue Jeans Network allow people to use their smart phones or tablets to join in on multi-party conferences from anywhere as long as they have access to Internet service. The benefits this provides businesses are astronomical; not only does it save on time and travel, but it also allows collaboration and interdepartmental communication unlike anything before.

Two business colleagues no longer need to go to a specific room in order to video chat; they can simply download a lightweight client to their mobile device and instantly be part of a big business meeting or just a conversation between the two, according to Processor.

With services like those provided by Blue Jeans Network readily available to any and all mobile users, businesses can communicate within their own hierarchy and with other businesses in ways never imagined in the past.