Connection Telecom’s recent launch of its VideoConnect hosted video conferencing platform in the SA market could prove a tipping point for mass adoption of the medium.
Industries across the board are finding a seemingly endless list of applications for the solution powered by Vidyo, which licensed technology enables Google Hangouts. They cite its power, flexibility and device- and network-independence, as well as its ability to run with low hardware, network and bandwidth overhead.
The video age
Rob Lith, Connection Telecom’s business development director, says ubiquitous video is possible today because of powerful general-purpose computing devices on the market, from desktops to laptops, tablets and smartphones.
“Smartphones already have quad-core processing power, making encoding and decoding of full high-definition [HD] video a cinch,” he says. “You don’t need a lot of bandwidth for a high-quality experience, because Vidyo optimises the experience by allowing processing to be done natively on these powerful devices.”
In the past companies were bound by expensive, purpose-built video hardware, he says.
“Only a select few had it, with installations happening in pairs or multiples of conferencing venues equipped with big-screen and surround-sound for an immersive experience. Considerable technical know-how was needed. Today you can reach a health worker or field agent or co-worker anywhere – whether in an Internet café or the remotest of areas, with standard, generic hardware and networks.”
Vertical industry benefits of VideoConnect
Companies in the educational, legal and retail spheres are finding exciting new collaborative and communication options that raise their effectiveness and introduce cost-efficiencies previously inaccessible to them:
* VideoConnect in retail – Farmacia del Ahorro, a Mexican pharmacy chain with 1096 outlets in 33 cities, was experiencing fast growth and looking for a better videoconferencing solution.
Hector Puga Nacif, operations director, says the objective was to easily integrate communications from different platforms and areas of the country.
“Through the Vidyo Portal and Vidyo Gateway, we could integrate videoconferencing rooms, Android devices and iOS devices. A feature like that we absolutely had to take seriously.”
What also caught the group’s eye was the ability to log in from anywhere, including hotel or Internet cafés, and over any corporate, mobile or wireless network. With the Vidyo platform offering superior videoconferencing compared to its proprietary predecessor, at much reduced cost (in travelling, equipment and training), the company has increased its number of licences from 70 to 400 within a year.
* VideoConnect in legal – NextGen Reporting, a court reporting business that uses technology to reduce the costs of litigation procedures, wanted a video application that would bring the experience “closer” to users.
David Noteware, CEO of the company, says the latency of the previous solution did little to achieve that.
“We also wanted something more easy-to-use that could span a range of access environments.”
After looking at all available options the company selected Vidyo for its ease of use and access, security and quality. “It navigates through firewalls easily, is very streamlined and doesn’t require special client hardware or networks.”
He says with Vidyo, the average time taken by claims assessors to make a payment decision shrank to 18 seconds, thanks to the excellent quality of Vidyo, which allows more careful scrutiny of the demeanour of deponents.
* VideoConnect in education – the magnitude seven earthquake in Haiti of 2010 left all but one medical school in ruins. With death, injury, homelessness and large-scale devastation, the future of healthcare in the country was in jeopardy.
Against this backdrop, the Haiti Medical Education Project (HMEP) works to help Haiti’s medical education establishment become more self-sustaining. It set out to find a solution that could help create a tighter knowledge sharing community in the medical fraternity.
“The quake was not the only problem – 82% of graduates have left the country over the last decade or two,” says Galit Sacajiu, president of HMEP. “Medicine is moreover practised in a rural context, making it difficult to have the support and knowledge of a community.”
HMEP settled on a Vidyo videoconferencing system, instituting a Wednesday morning live lecture series (recorded for later use also) to which Haitian medical students and physicians enjoy open access.
“Vidyo was crucial to making this happen,” says Sacajiu. “Bandwidth in Haiti is extremely low, but most times we manage to have multiple participants with incredible quality. Anyone dialling in on their phone in the car or their iPad or laptop is, for all practical purposes, in the lecture hall with the lecturer.”
Lith says VideoConnect represents a core shift in video conferencing. “It allows companies with all budgets across all industries to attain levels of efficiency and effectiveness previously unheard of,” he says.
“Its low infrastructure, data and training requirement makes it the right product for the right markets at the right time.”