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Is mobile video conferencing worth considering in the midmarket?

You share, collaborate and inform via email, phone, instant message and more — all because face-to-face time can be difficult to pull off in our increasingly busy schedules. And while some organizations have video conferencing capabilities to bring remote workers and office dwellers together, smaller organizations may not opt for the services.

However, a rise in mobile video devices, such as the iPhone4’s FaceTime and the Cisco Cius, could bring video anytime, anywhere. So how important will mobile video conferencing be to the enterprise?

On the one hand, mobile video conferencing will be a way to include traveling executives or remote workers in important meetings. On the other hand, these outward-bound employees may not always be in a private, quiet space that will allow them to fully participate.

The results of a 2009 CIMI Corp. survey of collaborative behavior showed that the number of mobile workers who believed that mobile video conferencing was helpful was less than 10%. The off-site workers did not feel they could actively participate in mobile video conferencing because of a lack of facilities, lack of network capacity to support connection and lack of privacy.

Another consideration is the potential for impromptu video conferences. Organizations with traditional conference rooms may have to plan their conferences weeks in advance. Conferences rooms with dedicated telepresence technology could book up quickly, but utilizing mobile technology on a tablet or similar device would allow users to pop into any room for a similar experience.

Plus, there is real value in being able to show someone explicitly how to do something and being able to read visual cues that could encourage communication and collaboration. Without these cues, it’s difficult to know when it’s appropriate to “jump in” on a voice conference.

The costs and benefits have to be weighed (and one may tip the scale in your organization), but remember: It’s not just about buying these devices — you have to consider changing work patterns and other business impacts.

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