- Person-to-person or small groups: a modern digital Web camera such as those available from Logitech plus a high-speed network will work for basic needs.
- Large groups: a higher-end system with professional video cameras and audio gear plus a very high-speed connection is generally needed.
- Extreme situations where fidelity and realism are paramount: consider systems like Halo.
As glamorous or hip as video conferencing seems to be these days, it has not yet matured to the point where it adds much value to the vast majority of small teams. We have found in nearly every case where a team is involved in knowledge work (e.g., creating documents and analyzing data), video is a distraction and completely unnecessary. In fact, even for teams where new technology is rapidly adopted and embraced, the use of video in daily work quickly fades. There is typically no value added.
Here are a few cases, however, where video is important or even critical:
- Project kickoffs—Initial getting-to-know-you and project kickoff meetings when budgets do not allow for a face-to-face meeting
- Physical demonstrations—Showing someone an object or demonstrating something that would otherwise require hours of explanation and many photos sent via e-mail
- Interviews—Interviews or sensitive meetings where body language and facial expressions are important—although only the best video cameras and high-speed networks really make this work
- Video work—Where video is the core of the work, as in advertising, music videos, or the movies
Even if you don’t have one of these situations, if you have access to high-quality video equipment and a high-speed connection to your video partner, you might want to give it a try to see if it adds value for your particular situation.