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Legacy Video Conferencing Isn’t Affordable Because the Model is Broken

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What do we know about Legacy Video Conferencing?
- Full IT support needed!
- Complicated systems at outrageous prices!
- Intense training required!

Highfive believes we need to embrace a new alternative.
With the ability to visually link co-workers and colleagues around the globe, video conferencing services offer undeniable appeal for companies of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, legacy video conference systems offer a quite limited practicality for many businesses, with the price tag alone placing these tools firmly out of reach.

Traditional video conferencing systems also present a number of unique challenges, such as ongoing maintenance requirements, dizzying costs, and steep learning curves for everyday users. As waves of new businesses turn to video conferencing to solve their communication needs, it’s all but inevitable that the old model will be replaced by more innovative, flexible, and cheaper alternatives.

Examining the traditional model

Historically, video conferencing systems relied on a complicated network of telecommunication systems and perplexing audiovisual equipment; the earliest computers capable of video conferencing weighed 100 pounds. Technology advanced (and shrunk), of course, but even in the 1980s deploying these communication lines was jaw-droppingly expensive, and the cost of the hardware further elevated the overall price of these tools. For instance, one system released to the public in 1982 came with a whopping $250,000 price tag, plus a $1,000 per-hour cost to operate over the phone lines. Shockingly, it was not a smash hit.

Fortunately, technology has evolved significantly in just the past few years, but legacy video conferencing costs remain sky high. For example, companies investing in the entry-level telepresence solution from Cisco can expect to spend somewhere in the ballpark of $33k to deploy these tools. This figure is dwarfed by other options from the industry behemoth, some of which can carry a seven-figure price tag.

The need for continuous IT support of legacy systems also poses an ongoing challenge for business video conferencing. It isn’t uncommon for the old video conference platforms to require extensive technical support from dedicated IT teams, which represents a significant expense in manpower alone. Furthermore, updating an existing system often proves incredibly expensive. One notable anecdote comes from the Pentagon, which reportedly needs to spend nearly half a million dollars to update their aging video conferencing equipment.

Another failing of legacy video conferencing has been the high barrier to everyday usability for the average office worker or business executive. Indeed, Dimension Data contends that legacy providers of “video conferencing and telepresence may have cultivated an image of overcomplexity,” which many customers found daunting, and Wainhouse Research concluded in a 2008 study that, “One of the … major complaints with traditional videoconferencing is that video calls are too complex to set up and operate.” What good is an expensive, state-of-the-art video conferencing system if only one or two people in any given company are capable of using it?

Embracing a new alternative

In the new millennium, the increased footprint of high speed Internet access has given rise to more video conferencing platforms. Naturally, some of these platforms offer more affordable solutions for video conferencing, but they often lack the audiovisual quality found in legacy video conferencing systems.
As pointed out in research conducted by OneStopClick, network fluctuations often cause low-cost solutions to suffer from video and audio lag. For this reason alone, these desktop video programs don’t offer a viable option for business users seeking reliable video conferencing solution.

And yet, businesses are increasingly looking for cost-efficient alternatives to the traditional video conferencing model, as a means of escaping the constraints and costs of legacy systems. From the cost of installation, to the significant expense associated with upgrading dated equipment, it comes as little surprised that the business world is eager to adopt new alternatives to the old systems.

Finding the sweet spot between low-cost video conference solutions and the expensive legacy model has long proven challenging, however newer disruptive technologies and platforms are now filling that gap.

Considering the benefits of modern platforms

New video conferencing solutions strive to address the pain points felt by users of legacy video conferencing. In particular, the high cost and technical complexity of older conferencing tools have been targeted. Users of these new systems can expect the following:

• Hassle-free installation. No need to grapple with complicated hardware and confusing communications lines. Instead, plug-and-play hardware works right out of the box.
• Improved user experience. Conducting a video conference shouldn’t require an advanced degree in technology; new platforms offer intuitive interfaces to make operation simple.
• Scalability. Most legacy systems use hardware that is tied to one specific computer, or that is even built-in to the room itself, limiting the practicality of expansion and upgrades. On the other hand, new platforms, such as Highfive, rely on all-in-one devices that incorporate all of the hardware necessary to stream live video and audio to a multitude of users.
• Affordability. Modern systems don’t carry the steep capital investment required by the former video conferencing model.

The wide array of potential uses for video and web conferencing makes it an exciting solution for companies to consider. The possibilities are endless, with such platforms serving as a powerful tool for recruiters, virtually-based teams, and businesses that work with remote contractors.

Video conferencing technology has long played a role in the development of countless multinational companies, startups, and nonprofit organizations, but the legacy models are undoubtedly broken, and are quickly being replaced by cutting-edge, innovative products. By removing the high cost and limitations of previous systems, these new platforms offer an affordable alternative for any contemporary workplace. Video conferencing is changing, and the future of work looks brighter than ever…and it’s in HD too!

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