So, you got the ball rolling in your company and realized your meeting rooms are up for an upgrade. Having a video conferencing meeting room doesn’t just serve a functional purpose, meeting room systems can be complex and pricey, so before wasting your time and money searching for the best video conferencing equipment for your meeting room, here are 5 tips to consider before purchasing one.
How do you choose video conferencing equipment for your meeting room?
- Solution modularity
- Video conferencing infrastructure
- Installation and maintenance
- Video conferencing features vs needs
- Meeting room size
Video conference equipment cost can range anywhere from $2K to $10K+. You’ll want to pick the right solution for your needs while staying within budget. There is a lot to consider and many options, but we’ll do our best to cover everything to help you make the best decision.
First point to consider is modularity. Some meeting room systems from Polycom and Cisco are limited in support to proprietary video conferencing peripherals like mics, speakers, cameras. This ensures you won’t encounter any compatibility problems between conference room device components in that set up but at the same time you are limited by choice. Other video conferencing solutions like Flipdock are modular, in that they are not limited to specific brands or models of peripherals, so that gives you more choice and allows the use of pre-owned mics, cameras, and speakers, saving cost and allowing customization or upgrade without having to change the entire system. If you decide to go with a non-proprietary solution, make sure you check the compatibility with other video conferencing gear.
Video Conferencing Infrastructure
There are three types of UC&C (Unified Communication and Collaboration) deployments to choose from; on-premise, cloud, or hybrid.
With cloud deployment, your entire infrastructure can be ready in a matter of minutes, fully hosted and managed by the service provider. Cloud hosting is the best option for startups and smaller enterprises and offers high-availability and up-time with a convenient pay-per-use model based on your actual consumption and number of users.
In an on-premise deployment, your infrastructure is locally hosted in your own physical data centers and managed by your inhouse IT staff. This type of deployment typically offers the highest levels of security, because you are in full control over your infrastructure.
Hybrid deployment is simply a combination of both on-premise and cloud hosting and offers flexibility as it allows workloads to shift between the two when capacity, needs, and costs change.
Choosing the type of infrastructure for your company is not an easy decision to make. Either to deploy an on-premise infrastructure and managing it inhouse, migrate to the cloud, or a hybrid infrastructure, you need to make sure that your choice of video conferencing system and the accompanying peripherals are compatible with your deployment now, or in the future. Video conferencing solutions like Flipdock support on-premise, cloud, and hybrid deployments of Skype for Business.
Installation and Maintenance
When selecting meeting room video conferencing systems, ease of installation is an important deciding factor depending on the resources you have at your disposal or are willing to invest. If you’re not a tech expert, you might want to go with a relatively plug and play solution. More complex system will need a higher-level IT staff and some solutions from providers like Polycom, require a professional tech visit to install your system.
When having multiple meeting rooms with video conference equipment installed, remote management from a central location is critical to avoid having to physically visit the meeting room when issues occur. Make sure your choice of meeting room system allows IT to get live status from meeting room video conferencing devices, apply updates, and control your entire set up in rural locations from a central location.
Video Conferencing Features vs Needs
The features to look for in meeting room video conferencing systems fall under three main categories; communication, collaboration, and productivity features. Communication refers to any features that facilitate and improve communication between meeting attendees. Collaboration refers to features that allow you to display and share different types of content to facilitate collaboration between meeting attendees. Productivity features aim to reduce time and effort in the meeting. Some features are basic and exist in most meeting room solutions, like being able to start and join meetings and add participants to them, others will be dependent on the video conferencing system you choose, so let’s talk about those.
One of the most important features to consider is file sharing and the ability to open and share files from multiple sources. Sharing files or your screen from a laptop is a common feature found in many solutions, but more advanced video conferencing solutions like Flipdock also allow you to open, share, and annotate files from a USB device, from the calendar invite attachment, shared network folder, or even cloud drives like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox. Flipdock also offers a handy web browser to open and annotate live websites and share with all meeting attendees.
Some systems allow you to add participants by phone number, so you can dial someone on the phone and have them join the meeting on the fly. Whiteboard and the ability to annotate content are examples of essential features you don’t find in Skype Room Systems or Microsoft Teams Rooms. These features allow you to sketch ideas or annotate files to highlight specific content, making your brainstorming sessions a lot more fruitful and productive.
Meeting Room Size
Meeting rooms come in different shapes and sizes, and not all room systems work for every room size. The three most common meeting room set ups based on size are huddle/small meeting rooms, mid-size meeting rooms, and large board rooms. Huddle rooms are 1-4 person set ups that require a display, a mic and speakerphone, and one camera. These rooms are usually used for brainstorming sessions and quick meetings. Mid-sized meetings rooms accommodate 4-8 people and would typically require a dual-display setup to give you more area to present content mid meeting. Board rooms are even larger, with up to 14+ people and require multiple microphones and speakers and a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera that can be controlled remotely.