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Why some Video Conferencing Solutions Cost More than Others

Video solutions – the costs vary a LOT…. Why?

Cisco, Poly, Lifesize, StarLeaf and others offer a ‘turnkey’ solution which includes room hardware, bridging software and professional services. Vendors like Microsoft,  Zoom,  BlueJeans and others do not.

Leaving alone the end quality issue (which is so contentious I will dedicate a blog to this alone)  may I suggest it’s the labour cost that accounts for the difference.  Labour and time is a commodity. You are going to spend it whether you like it or not. Its whether you pay someone else for theirs ( and save yours)  or spend your own ( and save theirs). It’s that simple.

Yes, VC solutions that require installation for hardware , software ( including updates), post install support and training all adds up.  And depending on how much DIY you used, so can your time managing it all. Time you probably can’t invoice anyone for. That’s ok, just remember that you’ve engaged in a Cost Shifting exercise not a Cost Reduction exercise. Unless of course you undervalue your own labour which Im sure you don’t.

I have friends that do their own painting, tiling, plumbing.  Of course they save money by lowering their total job cost. I prefer to pay a professional to do these things as they are faster, more efficient and skilled.  Ive got better and more interesting things to do but some people love doing this stuff. Nothing wrong with either approach by the way but let’s not kid ourselves that the labour is free in the DIY approach.  In fact, on our profit and loss reports labour is the largest expense we have. I’d rather invoice my labour externally and make money  than spend it in-house.

If you choose to buy the pieces and assemble and maintain it yourself, using your own staff (because we all know that these people sit around all day bored – ummm NOT!) it’s important to understand that each hour they spend doing the below is a lost time opportunity and cost to your business

  1. Researching the best cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, wireless sharing devices and Nucs, tablet or PC’s to run it on
  2. Buying each component because it will be a miracle if they all come from the same place
  3. Installing them or getting quotes to install them if joinery, plastering or screens are required (if they have an accident installing them and you don’t have the safe work methods statements and correct procedures documented and the correct luck with workers comp people your directors will be liable)
  4. Completing the warranty and registering the product (very rarely ever gets done) don’t worry though damage caused by faulty installation as they won’t be covered anyway.
  5. Updating the Operating System security patches on the Nuc, tablet or PC.
  6. Updating the software on the USB devices (cameras, mics etc)
  7. Creating user guides as you will have several separate components
  8. Teaching your staff how to use the system
  9. Fault diagnosing and repair of faulty devices as you will probably have up to 5 different manufacturers equipment. Lots of finger pointing while your staff work out what is faulty.
  10. Dealing with outage time explaining why the room is not working while stuff is sent away to be repaired. (You won’t have advanced replacement agreements)
  11. Hope that the guy that set this up documented how it all works and where it was purchased and when, or that he never leaves.


Do you really want to DIY?


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