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HD Video Conferencing for the SMB: Why Now

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May 25, 2012

HD Video Conferencing for the SMB: Why Now

By Carrie Schmelkin, TMCnet Web Editor

If you haven’t taken note already, now might be a good time, as HD video conferencing solutions are taking the enterprise and small- and medium-sized business (SMB) by storm, particularly as businesses feverishly search for ways to cut costs and increase efficiencies.

After all, with the right HD video conferencing solution, working with international clients becomes cheaper and more seamless, collaboration with colleagues and industry experts becomes instantaneous and those exorbitant travel costs are all of a sudden thrown out the window. Panasonic (News - Alert) is one company who has been making use of this technology in house for internal cost reduction and improved efficiencies for several years and now the company is ready to spread the word that these offerings are available to the small and medium business market.

“As a global company we engage in considerable domestic and international travel. We found that as we used the solution we had superior capabilities from a quality standpoint that we started to deploy to benefit our business partners as well,” Bill Savino, marketing manager for business communication solutions at Panasonic, told TMCnet. “The next step was to take it to market to benefit our SMB customers.   The solution made a logical addition to our business communication solutions portfolio.”

“Panasonic’s HD Visual Communications System is an easy to use video conferencing solution that helps SMBs to improve productivity and reduce travel costs,” he added. “By delivering the highest picture quality and sound over a standard high-speed Internet connection at a reasonable cost, Panasonic is making it possible for small and medium businesses to use video as a standard office tool.”

For Panasonic, the company’s sweet spot is the SMB market, particularly because the SMB stands to benefit a great deal from HD video conferencing. Specifically, the technology allows companies to cost effectively rely on room video conferencing to collaborate with domestic and overseas clients, partners and co-workers.

Now is an opportune time for SMBs to direct their attention toward HD video conferencing because whereas room conferencing used to be both cost prohibitive and difficult to set up and use, the technology has matured, meaning that the audio and video quality have improved and the solution is now affordable, reliable, high quality, and easy to use. SMBs stand to benefit as they can now compete against larger firms, who were typically the only ones who could afford HD video conferencing and handle the complexity of setup and operation.

According to Savino, the technology allows SMBs to save time, money and feel as if the participants are all in the same room. This creates an experience that makes it extremely useful to a wide variety of businesses. 

“Consider an attorney who can be with his clients virtually without having to visit with each of them in person, necessitating a lot of travel,” Savino said. “The interaction has to be completely natural since the clients are usually paying a premium for expert advice and expect an experience that is the same as the attorney being in the room with them. Or consider an apparel manufacturer who can see material swatches so clearly that they feel completely comfortable in placing an order for more fabric right on the spot, no waiting to get samples shipped. Or a doctor who can consult without loss of time or efficiency, providing highly specialized medical knowledge where it may not be readily available and where time can be critical to matters of health and well being to the patient. The uses are endless.”

According to Savino, so far the reaction from the SMBs to HD video conferencing has been very positive but the message still has a ways to go when it comes to hammering home that a solid solution exists out there right now that will meet an SMBs business needs.

“The market still needs a lot of education,” Savino said. “Those SMBs that tried earlier standard definition systems have not been impressed and I think all of us have evolved to have higher expectations from video technology.   Consider that many more consumers (and we are all consumers) have HD TVs at home. The price point on these was in the thousands of dollars a few years ago, now it is in the hundreds of dollars and HD programming is much more common both on TV and in film. The result is that we all expect a higher level of quality in audio/video and we don’t expect to pay a fortune for it anymore.    We expect it to be affordable, reliable and flexible.”

So what message does Panasonic hope the market takes away about its HD video conferencing solutions?

“Unlike video conferencing solutions that require an IT team to purchase and set up, Panasonic makes using video as easy as making a phone call,” Savino said. “In short, simple, reliable, reasonably priced. Our goal is to bring HD video conferencing to the mid-market so they can benefit from vivid, true life video, exceptional picture definition, crystal clear high def audio, quick set up and ease of use.”  

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

Technology Marketing Corporation

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