It's no secret that large enterprises and SMBs are saving thousands of dollars every year on travel expenses and time in transit thanks to video conferencing. And unlike audio conferencing over a VoIP system, the ability to communicate face to face provides businesses a multi-layered collaboration portal, whether the endpoint is across town, or on the other side of the world. Handling business remotely has never been so easy.
And the benefits of video conferencing are not limited to traditional office settings. Newcomers from multiple sectors are wielding this remote communication tool in new and interesting ways with the same end goal as the enterprise: To boost productivity, cut travel out of the equation whenever possible, and save time and money for all parties involved.
"Video conferencing's productivity potential is unparalleled."
1) Health care
A variety of wearable fitness trackers and mobile applications are available that encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Some applications even provide metrics that traditionally required the assistance of medical professionals, such as monitoring blood pressure. But what they all lack is the expert medical counsel that only a professional can provide.
Enter telehealth. Rather than driving to the nearest clinic, telehealth makes it possible for patients to receive consultations from their homes, and video conferencing is at the core of the operation. Have a strange rash on your arm? Show it to the doctor over video conference. Need a prescription to be refilled? Request the script over video conference. Have a therapy session but no time to drive across town during your lunch break? Video conference.
Other practical uses for telehealth include remote monitoring tools that can reduce the amount of time patients spend in the hospital following a medical procedure. No need for a resident nurse, and no need for the patient to feel confined to a white-washed hospital room. Have a question for the nurse on call? Hop on a video conference. The benefits are self-evident, and large companies are taking notice; 74 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health said they will offer telehealth benefits to employees in states where the practice is currently legal.
2) Court systems
Justice might be blind, but thanks to video conferencing, it can still see you even when you are unable to be in the courtroom on the day of a hearing. In multiple districts throughout the U.S., defendants can now call in for cases.
In fact, some states, such as Missouri, have been using video conferencing to conduct remote hearings for nearly half a decade now. You can remotely attend a conference in Tokyo from your office in St. Louis, and handle the speeding ticket you got when you were visiting relatives in Kansas City, on the same day. Video conferencing's productivity potential is unparalleled.
The same institutions that educated many of our nation's business leaders are taking a page out of the enterprise communication playbook. Colleges and universities throughout the country are using video conferencing as a way to keep professors and students connected.
Penn State University, Ithaca College and New York University are only some of the well-known educational hubs using video conferencing as a tool to keep productivity on course when extraneous circumstances arise – such as inclement winter weather – much in the same way a business might. Remember, college students still pay for the classes that get canceled. But thanks to video conferencing, a future in which "snow days" no longer exist is not far off.
Video conferencing is only one facet of unified communications that continues to find use inside and outside the enterprise. What started as way to consolidate business collaboration is rapidly proliferating across all sectors of society. And it's showing no signs of slowing down.