Improve Communication Efficiency in 2010

Posted on January 31, 2010. Filed under: Video Messaging, webcam | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The calendar has turned over to 2010, but the economic challenges of 2009 are continuing to stay with us. Every business person I speak with talks about the need to reduce cost, meet goals with a sharply reduced workforce, and simultaneously improve quality and customer service. Our view is technology is the answer to improving performance in 2010. Communications is a budget line item that contains multiple cost elements. Direct expenses from your telephone, Internet, and audio conferencing vendors fall into this category. One must also include some travel costs into the “communications” expense line. After all, how much of your travel is associated with seeing clients and employees over a large geographic region? How about the cost of bringing job candidates into the office to interview? Airfare, hotel, rental car, and gasoline expenses all need to be included in the overall look at communications. Another cost is the lost productivity due to the time spent in travel when employees could be working instead.

One company that is focused on improving the cost and effectiveness of communications is Wingspan Performance Advisors. “We identified communications as a high potential area for saving money,” explains Wingspan’s president, Terry Dolan. “We cover the US and international markets from our headquarters in North Carolina, so we know all about meetings in far-off places and being on teleconferences at odd times.” WingspanPA focuses on:

  • Building a collaborative effort between our company and our clients
  • Creating strategies founded on analysis and data
  • Supporting our clients’ overall objectives and culture
  • Creating value for your business

WingspanPA utilizes Vonei Meeting service for live multi-person video meetings with clients throughout the world. By seeing all the other parties in the meeting WingsanPA can tell if participants are paying attention, or if they are placing the meeting on mute and multitasking. Vonei’s flat monthly or yearly price structure eliminates the costly per minute fee of traditional audio conferences. Since the service works on any computer over the Internet, there is no need for expensive cash outlays on equipment.

Vonei has vastly improved Wingspan’s remote meetings. “Our meetings are not only more efficient,” says Terry Dolan, “but they’re also much more effective. Every person at the meeting is engaged.” Vonei is so simple to use that Wingspan’s Talent Acquisition team utilizes it as a recruitment tool. “I can have face-to-face meetings with five different candidates in five different cities before lunch time,” says Fred Weber, a Wingspan executive recruiter.

Using online technology like Vonei Meeting can cut communications costs in 2010, while making it easy to continue face-to-face meetings with anyone in the world. To request a demo of the service email info@vonei.com, or call toll free 888-698-6634.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Reduce business costs now with these 5 technologies

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Today’s economy is forcing businesses of all sizes to examine every cost element and find ways to work at a lower cost. Not only is it imperative in 2009, but most businesses are starting their 2010 planning and need to identify cost savings to put into their budget. Fortunately technology continues to provide productivity enhancing tools. Here are a few recommended areas that should be examined to reduce your costs and improve performance:

  1. Hold online video conferences instead of travel. Computer based video conferencing services like Vonei Meeting offer unlimited use for less than $40/month. A regional bank VP told me they have twice a month meetings, where 7 of the 10 employees will drive 30 minutes to attend in person. The 1 hour of round trip lost productivity across 7 employees more than pays for the service with the first use. Additional savings include gasoline, parking, and reduced carbon pollution by eliminating driving. How much could you save by avoiding travel for meetings?

  2. Use open source software instead of licensing Microsoft software. Many people are switching to Google Apps for similar capabilities for no cost. If you are worried about Google’s insights into your data and communication you can consider OpenOffice and Zimbra. Both are open sourced and you can run them from your own computers and secure the data.

  3. Check for business class Internet service from your cable company. It is typically much less expensive than T-1 based Internet service from a telephone company. If you need 10Mb+ of Internet capacity consider getting an Ethernet connection from a competitive carrier. Ethernet is one of the least expensive transport mechanisms and is very reliable.

  4. For group communications use group chat or instant messaging services. Some video conferencing service providers like Vonei offer group and private chat embedded in their tool for no extra cost. Campfire is a stand alone group chat tool which works well for a small monthly cost. Google and Yahoo instant messaging services are free and are great for one-to-one communication without a phone call. Whether you use the group chat in Vonei or the one-to-one instant messaging services your communication stays within the group. For quick external chat Twitter is a useful tool. You just have to make sure everyone you want to communicate with has an account and regularly checks it.

  5. Use free video recording tools to improve your communication and advertising. An excellent video email service is available for free from Eyejot. You can record videos from your webcam and email them to anyone in the world. Instead of text, recipients will see and hear your message. There are several screen recording tools available for free which allow you to record video of your computer screen. CamStudio and Screenr are two I would recommend checking out. With a webcam one can record anything right from their computer, post it on YouTube, and then embed it or share the link. Here is an example of a recent video I made from my webcam called Why You Should Video Call Your Customers and How To Do It:

The technology tools mentioned above provide cost savings and improvements in the speed and effectiveness of communications. Check them out and leave me your comments.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Video Resumes – Who Needs Them?

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

There is a lot of hype about candidates creating video resumes so they can “show their personality and stand out”. I’m sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud but I don’t think video resumes are very useful for most people. Here’s why:

  • Unless you have the proper equipment and lighting, a homemade video is likely to be of poor quality. Not to mention that the video background may be less than desirable and your personal editing abilities may not be studio quality. You would hate for a poor technical exhibit to reflect negatively on your abilities as a candidate.

  • Most candidates are not great at providing a one to two minute elevator pitch needed for a video resume. A script needs to be developed and fine tuned, and the candidate will need a lot of practice time to both memorize the script and present themselves well. Who coaches the candidate through this process?

  • A candidate may give a poor impression on camera, yet be an excellent fit for a job. Let’s face it, many jobs don’t require the most charismatic presence in front of a camera. If a candidate is interviewing for a back office position do you really think their video presentation skills are a good indication of their performance on the job?

  • Unsolicited video resumes are also likely to be tossed out. Discrimination concerns, as well as the difficulty of picking out key experiences from watching a video, make it easy for the recruiter to simply discard them and focus on the written resume.

vonei web conferencing

You are probably wondering why Vonei, a leader in video communications, is downplaying the role of video resumes. Well we are not downplaying the usefulness of video in the recruiting process, just downplaying the usefulness of a video resume. Live video interviews are certainly a great improvement over phone call screening. As a recruiter you are not simply watching a video resume, but you are conducting a live interview with the added benefit of seeing the candidate without having to pay them to travel for an in-person interview. Live video interview services like Vonei Meeting provide unlimited usage each month for less than $40, making it very economical.

While recorded videos are not that useful for video resumes, they can be used effectively in other parts of the recruiting and on-boarding process. Recorded videos can be great for the hiring manager or recruiter to send the winning candidate a video message welcoming them to the team, or providing useful information about the job or company. These welcome video mails do not have to be professional quality, nor are they elevator pitches. Video emails used for this purpose are valuable, personal touches that improve the overall process.

Would you like a free demo of the Vonei Meeting service and a free trial account? Simply send an email to sales@vonei.com and ask for your demo today.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Why You Should Video Call Your Customers and How To Do It

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Seeing your customers face-to-face is the best method to build relationships, sell your ideas and proposals, and negotiate deals. Unfortunately distance can make in-person meetings expensive, time consuming, and more infrequent than you would like. Video conferencing addressing these issues, but these systems can be expensive to purchase, expensive to rent ($150+/hr), and require the parties to be in physical rooms that have equipment. A great solution is making video calls right from your computer to get the face-to-face benefit without the travel.

Why see your customers face-to-face?

  • Up to 90% of the meaning transmitted in face-to-face communication is nonverbal.

  • Audio calls make it easy for your customers to put you on mute. With video you can see them.

  • Audio calls don’t show you if your customer is paying attention and you can’t see their reaction.

  • Video calls allow you to see your customer while going over proposals and documents.

  • Face-to-face video calls can provide a competitive advantage for you versus your competitors.

  • More face-to-face communication can improve your personal relationship with your customer.

  • You have to see ’em to sell ’em (click this link for a great blog on selling with video).

How to make video calls from your computer

A free method to make video calls from your computer is to use Instant Messaging systems or Skype. These are great for calling family members anywhere in the world. These services work well, and what’s not to like about free? Well, there are some limitations to the free services:

  • These services only work for 2-person video calls. You can’t add a third person with live video.

  • Each person must download and use the same software application.

  • Calls are not scheduled so you have to call or email your customer first to arrange a meeting.

  • There is no historical tracking of the video calls.

  • No support is provided. If you have webcam troubles there is no one to call.

These limitations may be acceptable for personal use. However for professional business use these limitations can be show stoppers. Imagine trying to close a sale with a customer on Google Talk, your customer having difficulties with their webcam, and you have no way of getting technical support.

vonei web conferencing

For a professional image there are computer based video conferencing services like Vonei Meeting that are built for business users. For less than $40/month you have an unlimited usage, business quality video calling experience. Vonei (http://www.vonei.com) resolves limitations of the free services:

  • There is no software to load. Users simply go through their browser to a website.

  • Multiple participants can attend. Perfect for those calls when you need to bring in a sales engineer or have multiple people from the customer’s office in the meeting.

  • Video conferences are scheduled in advance and invitations are sent to all participants.

  • A historical record is kept of all video meetings.

  • Document sharing is available in the meeting service; no need to refer to email attachments.

  • Technical support is available to help with any issue, and to provide demos.

Lastly one must have the equipment on your computer to have a video call; a webcam and a headset. While this equipment is plug-n-play, there can still be questions on how to use it and how to get it to work with the video service. This is where the support provided by the paid service companies such as Vonei provides great value.

Would you like a free demo of Vonei Meeting? Send an email to sales@vonei.com and request your demo and free trial account today.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Video Interview Job Candidates from your Computer

Posted on October 2, 2009. Filed under: video interview | Tags: , , , , , , |

One of the first steps in the recruiting process involves screening potential candidates for an approved job opening. This is typically done with telephone calls today. It is a low cost, fast, and an effective means of quickly going through basic requirements with a candidate. However since you can’t see the candidate you have no idea if they are sitting in front of Wikipedia, have open books on their desk, or have other reference material nearby. In other words, how do you really know that the candidate knows their stuff?

NC Association of Staffing Professionals-July2009-5x3 -v3

Video interviewing candidates at the first step in the process can help weed out those that are referring to other documents versus answering from their own knowledge. You can also see their mannerisms and body language. Documents such as resumes/CVs, applications, job description, and other forms can be shared right during the meeting. By weeding candidates out quickly the recruiter can shorten the time to fill positions.

Use of Vonei Meeting for video interviewing provides a secure, inexpensive means of conducting live video interviews with document sharing right from a PC, Mac, or Linux computer. A webcam and headset is all you need. Video interviews are fast to set up and and more effective than telephone calls in getting to know the candidate. And we are not talking about expensive, $150/hour video conference rooms. Services such as Vonei’s offer unlimited usage monthly service plans starting under $40. Interviews are scheduled with email invitations, and a history of interviews is kept for your records. The interviews can be conducted with encrypted transmission, and secure document sharing is conducted directly in the interview, avoiding all the email servers on the Internet.

Another major benefit in using video interviewing is reduced travel cost of bringing prospects into the client company to interview. The more candidates can be weeded out early, the more cost effective it will be to bring only the finalists in for face-to-face interviews.

Vonei video service (www.vonei.com) can be used throughout the recruiting process, not just for the initial screening of candidates but for second and third interviews as well. Video interviews can be recorded if the parties consent (see your state laws) and shared with the hiring manager. If the recruiter is not collocated with the hiring manger the same video conferencing tool can be used for online video meetings between the recruiter and the manager, sharing applicant assessments, placement status, and other forms.

Filling jobs faster and reducing the cost of bringing candidates in for face-to-face interviews make using a computer based video interviewing service extremely valuable to the recruiter.

Do you use a video interviewing service? How has it worked for you?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Hurricane Disrupting Communications? Online Video Conferencing Can Help.

Posted on September 19, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

10 years ago this week Hurricane Floyd impacted the east coast of the United States. Businesses were impacted from eastern Carolinas, northeast to New Jersey, and adjacent areas along the east coast into Maine. In North Carolina alone 15-20 inches of rain fell across the eastern half of the state causing many rivers to set new flood records. Entire communities were underwater for days, and even weeks. The infrastructure of the eastern counties such as roads, bridges, and water plants were heavily damaged.

small.floyd.ir

If you own a business, how do you function when an office is inaccessible? Most disaster recovery plans suggest having alternative locations from which to work. Online video conferencing services from companies such as Vonei allow people to work from any location with broadband Internet. A computer with a webcam, speakers, and microphone can serve as an office-in-a-box, allowing employees to work from remote areas.

If you haven’t tried an online video conferencing service such as Vonei Meeting, now is a great time to get familiar with the tools. While you can sign up for service after disaster strikes, it sure makes sense to be prepared and have a service already in place and employees trained with how it works. Vonei offers 14 Day Free Trials of their 5-person Vonei Meeting service. Sign up today at http://www.vonei.com.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Why don’t businesses use webcams for video conferencing and video mail?

Posted on September 17, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Consumers have quickly adopted webcams on home computers for video communications. This is evidenced by the rapid growth in Skype, YouTube videos, Vonei Meeting, and video chat programs. In the business world it seems natural that the proven tool of video conferencing would migrate from the expensive room based systems to computer webcam based video conferencing service. The power of sending video emails, instead of text emails, also appears to be a prime tool for businesses to communicate on a more personal level. So why have businesses been slow to migrate to these webcam based services?

The first barrier is of course having a webcam. It seems that 90% of new laptop computers have built-in webcams, and 100% of the netbooks have built-in webcams. For older laptops and desktops one can purchase external webcams for less than $50. There is a migration to wider video camera availability in the workplace, but without a conscious effort to use video many business people stick to text and audio phone calls.

The second barrier is some people want to “hide” behind the technology. It does make one pay attention when the other person can see you, and you have to make sure you are dressed appropriately. No more multi-tasking when the others can see you; it keeps you on your toes. If you are the boss this is something you should like. If you are an attendee and like to mulitask then the live video conferencing service on the computer may be undesirable.

A third barrier is incurring the cost of the service. Video conferencing with webcams is a widely available service that costs less than $50/month. The first in-person meeting that is canceled and held online instead will pay for the cost of the webcams and service. However some businesses are so focused on the small outlay for the service and webcams that they forget the cost savings. Or sometimes employees simply like traveling, and don’t want to replace it with online meetings.

A fourth barrier is simply that the technology is new, and unless there is wide spread use many people will shy away from new tools. Some of the video mail services are free, and yet they struggle to gain users. Why? One needs to have a webcam to record the video that is to be mailed. Without the webcam the free service cannot be used.

Are webcams the solution for increased business usage of video conferencing and video mail? Well I wouldn’t say the solution, but I would say they are enablers. With a webcam one can take advantage of video communications, and without it one is stuck with text and audio only.

Does anyone have a success story of deploying webcams in the business environment? We’d love to hear from you!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Happy 40th Birthday Internet

Posted on September 2, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Vonei would like to wish the Internet a happy 40th birthday today. Back on 9/2/69 two computers connected with a 15 foot cable passed test data in a lab at the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA professor Len Kleinrock and graduate students Vinton Cerf and Stephen Crocker conducted the initial tests.

About a month later the Stanford Research Institute joined ARPANET, followed by US Santa Barbara and the University of Utah. The Internet was born. Of course no one knew back then the applications that would be developed, and the extent that people would be using Internet services such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and online video conferencing services like Vonei Meeting.

Today people email, IM, exchange documents, conduct audio calls, and conduct video calls online. With broadband Internet access widely deployed people worldwide have access to more information and faster communication with others. And it all started 40 years ago today.

Happy Birthday Internet!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Use Video Mail and Video Conferencing to Improve Your Communication

Posted on August 31, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Email has long been a communication tool of choice for businesses and consumers. The person does not have to be online when you send it; they can retrieve it later at a convenient time. You have to be careful in your wording so people do not misinterpret your meaning. We are all familiar with the rule of NOT TYPING IN ALL CAPS AS IT LOOKS LIKE SHOUTING. But even using normal letter writing rules it often is difficult to convey emotion and expression. For example if I write “That is really great.”, how do you react? Am I being sarcastic? Am I being sincere?

The inability to detect emotion and expression is even higher with text messaging and networks like Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, these are great communication tools. Really. But in 140 characters or less it is even more difficult to convey how you feel when you type a message. Audio calls are a step forward, as you can hear inflection in a persons’ voice. However most people on audio conference calls place it on mute and multi-task. So what are they really thinking?

To me there is nothing better than being able to communicate face-to-face and have the other party see your facial expressions, see you smile or frown, laugh, or any other reaction. You are more likely to get your meaning across when you can be seen. The best scenario is to be right in front of the other person live. A second option is conducting a live video conference call with the other parties. A third option is to use recorded video such as video mail. TV news shows use recorded video frequently, using videos taken earlier in the day or on a previous day.

In-person meetings are great, but they can be costly if travel is involved, both from the travel cost as well as lost productivity. Live video conferencing service is a great low-cost method of obtaining a face-to-face experience. Desktop conferencing services like Vonei Meeting fill the need for being able to hold multi-person video conference calls from your computer anywhere with broadband Internet. But how about the 3rd option? Well, one can record a video on their webcam, and attach the video file to their email. But have you seen the file size? Some formats could consume 8Mb for a 1 minute recording. This would not please your IT department, and may cause you to exceed the storage space allotment you have for email. You could post the video on YouTube, and then put a link in your email to it. This would keep the email from being large, but doesn’t exactly give you a professional image for a business email. Also, how many people really click on hyperlinks? Did you click on any of the links on this Blog?

A solution for recorded video communication would be an embedded video clip within the email. The embedded clip would have a still frame of the sender with the right triangle Play button on it. I believe you are more likely to get a click on the Play button if the recipient can see your face in the square. Storage of the video files is done outside of email in storage servers. Clicking the Play button within the email downloads the video right to the recipient. This provides all the benefits of an embedded video clip without the file size difficulties of attachments, or a nonprofessional technique of sending your recipients to YouTube.

Video mail sounds exciting right? However I don’t see it being used. I plan to include video mails in future updates on this Blog instead of all text. How do you feel about using video in emails? Would you like to see and hear the other person as opposed to just reading text?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

How to Use your Video Camera as a Webcam

Posted on August 24, 2009. Filed under: webcam | Tags: , , , , , |

Webcams have come a long way over the past few years and now for around $20-50 you can buy a nice 1.3 or 2.0 megapixel unit such as those from Logitech. Meanwhile we have digital cameras and video cameras that get significantly better imagery. Have you ever wanted to plug in a video camera for your web meeting or video conference and use it as a webcam? With a long enough USB cable you could walk around the room and broadcast video live, or mount the video camera on a tri-pod in a conference room and have a quick and easy solution for a large group. In both cases having a high quality external video camera provides an improvement over built-in laptop webcams or even external webcams. It might even replace the expensive hardware based video conferencing solutions.

Fortunately, you can easily add your video camera or digital camera to your computer as a webcam. All you need is a special cable with video capture software. I recently purchased the cable on www.videointerviewkits.com for under $30. It came with a software installation disk, but since I have a 64bit Vista computer I had to download an additional driver off their web site. One end of the cable plugs into a USB slot on your computer, and the other end plugs into your camera using your regular composite cable.

I tried a Sony video camera, a Panasonic video camera, and a Canon Powershot digital camera as webcams on the Vonei Meeting video conferencing service, and all worked great. The improvement in the image quality was amazing. Since I already had these devices it only cost me less than $30 for the cable, and now I have a high quality, large room webcam solution for my online meetings.  I also used the camcorder to create video mail on the free http://mailVU.com service.   This private and secure video mail service has a cool self-destruct feature where you can destroy your video after x days or x views.

Being able to use a video camera in online video conferencing services opens up the possibilities for all kinds of online events. Imagine hosting a cooking demonstration on a video conferencing webinar where the video camera shows the chef from overhead and in front. One could broadcast the event live and let participants ask questions of the chef. Or you could hold fantasy football league drafts where remote participants could see the room and commissioner live. Web conferencing takes on a whole new meaning when you can see live video of all the participants. With a video camera or digital camera serving as the webcam you won’t have to apologize for the video quality.

Video fps. There are several factors which impact the frames per second produced by your camera when using video chat.  For a guide to these factors, a free fps test tool, and tips on how to  improve the fps , see the fps test site.

Other factors in reaping the benefits of an improved video source are having sufficient upstream Internet bandwidth at your broadcasting location, and a web conferencing service which can accept the high quality images and 30 frames per second (fps) motion capture.  Services such as Paltalk and Fuze Meeting allow multiple person live video conferencing up to 30fps.  And both of them offer free 30 day trials.  You can select your camera source as an external video camera, and conduct your video conference using standard Flash players for display on participant’s computers. No software downloads. No expensive equipment to buy. A simple  cable with your existing video camera on Vonei service can open the door to a world of possibilities.

Try using your video camera as a webcam and let us know how you like it!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...