Simply defined, videoconferencing is "an interactive tool that uses video, computing and communication technologies to allow people in different locations to meet face to face and perform most of the same meeting activities they would perform if all the participants were in the same room (Videoconferencing 1)". This technology is fast invading business institutions in different industries due to the perceived wide range of benefits that it offers. However, as with other advancements we also realize that there exists certain limitation in the employment of this communication tool. This paper will focus on providing the benefits derived from the use of videoconferencing in business communications. Afterwards, it will tackle the limitations of this widely-used technology.
One of the leaders and innovators of the design and manufacture of videoconferencing equipment is Polycom, Inc. The concept of making videoconferencing devices sprouted by the early 1980's with the development of a "sleek three legged gizmo" which was placed in the center of the conference table to provide a connection between two locations with the aid of telephone line. This product hit the market and became popularly known as SoundStation. Through the years, a lot of developments are incorporated to come up with more high-speed products. Videoconferencing now features gadgets which uses camera that are operated manually and automatically to keep track of the speakers in a virtual conference table (Sharkey 3).
A lot of business entities are utilizing videoconferencing in order to cut company's administrative cost. As participants in a meeting are not required to have physical contact, transportation cost incurred by a firm is diminished. Expenses associated with reservations, tickets and others are eliminated. This important feature of videoconferencing also makes no room for flight delays and terminates the need for debriefing staffs which cannot make it to the meeting.
However, aside from cost savings, the seemingly most important feature of videoconferencing is its potency of solving problems related to business communication. Polycom's chief executive recognized this as he stated that the products they are developing aims to "ease decision making within the companies that depends on teams of knowledge workers on separate buildings on a corporate campus (qtd in Sharkey 15)." Videoconferencing brings people together in different locations more efficiently than physical meetings as participants are not constrained by their locations. Videoconferencing eliminates geographic boundaries, facilitating faster communication between participants which are located even in different continents. It has been proven that videoconferencing also encourages a higher participation rate among employees, thus helping management arrive at a consensus in less time. As travel time is reduced and there is an immediate contact between people, decision making becomes faster and better. Efficiency in operation is attained through the maximization of business time. This in turn, raises the productivity as more issues in the company are resolved at a much shorter interval. Also, dissemination of relevant information across the different functional areas and level of the company is easily facilitated.
However, videoconferencing also has its drawbacks. For one, a huge cash outlay to sufficiently cover the