Yes, I Wear SpongeBob Boxer Shorts – That’s Why I’ll Pass On Video Technology For Now

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of video chatting. In fact, I wish the technology was never invented at all. Maybe it’s because I’m fan of the orthodox? Don’t like changes? An angry guy?

Sure, I’m all that. But that’s not the reason why I don’t enjoy video chats. My reason lies in the fact I’m mom to teenage kids. Their school gave them, and their friends, with free Macbooks at the start in the school year. Within minutes of receiving these devices , they quickly figured out how to utilize the video chatting software that came pre-installed. So now I can’t even go down to the kitchen for an iced drink at 10 at night and not hear a giggling teenager from within two miles say “Hi Mr. Marks” or “Nice boxers Mr. Marks.”

The fact is, video technology is available. It’s inexpensive. In the case of some small business owners it’s become a critical part of the communication of their businesses.

Like Marty Grunder. And Lee Buffington. They both use Oovoo, an online video chat service to help them run their business. According the Marty, “it’s revealed a whole new world.” It’s also revealed to my tenth graders that I’m wearing SpongeBob boxers.

Marty is a consultant and speaker to those working in the landscape industry. He helps clients expand their businesses and better manage profitability. He is heavily dependent on Oovoo to aid him in this.

“The last several days in a row I had back to back coaching sessions with clients,” Marty recently informed me. “These were with landscapers located in different parts of the country. I did it all face to face…from my desk.”

Lee Buffington is one of Marty’s clients. His firm, which is located in northern Alabama located in northern Alabama, Turf Tamer Inc. provides commercial and residential landscaping services such as designing and building the landscape, lighting and irrigation. He also uses Oovoo to connect face to face with his prospective and current customers to discuss their projects.

For men like Marty and Lee the value of a photo is 1000 words. A video is worth a million. However, they’ren’t the only small-scale business owners benefiting of video chat software. Doctors are sending assistants make calls to their homes on their behalf, sending immediate video streams via their mobile phones to consult. Roofers are showing video evidence of shingles that are flaking to office estimators to ensure that their estimates are more accurate. The real estate agent is displaying new houses to their customers the moment they come on the market.

It led me to consider my own company. My company sells customer relations management accounting, customer relationship management, and other business software. Should I consider using video sharing technology similar to Oovoo (or Skype, or others like it) also?

The services appear to be easy enough to set up. It’s true, for god’s sake, both Marty as well as Lee are landscapers. These people mow lawns for an income. If they could do it, I’d think just about anybody could (just kidding).

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The truth is that using a service like Oovoo is stupidly simple. It’s as easy as setting up an account yourself. Then , you’re listed in Oovoo as a member. Oovoo community as a member – other users can click on your listing and request to be connected. But your video doesn’t have to be with another Oovoo member. You can send an email with a hyperlink to the person who you invite. When he clicks on the link, and right away he’s seeing you on his computer’s internet browser. If he has a video camera on his computer you’re watching him as well.

Skype will require you to install software (it isn’t a big deal, however). Oovoo does not. These applications work on both PCs and Macs. The majority of computers today have video cameras integrated into them. If not, getting one and connecting it to an USB port is also easy. Lee and Marty both recommend it. Lee and Marty recommend to buy a high-quality camera also.

I completed everything. I downloaded Oovoo and it was up and running on my PC in just a minute. After that, I provided a URL for an online video conference to a friend who clicked and in under another minute I was able to see him (he didn’t have a webcam installed on his laptop). I tried the same thing with my 10th grader (trust me when I say that he’s got an operational webcam on the back of his Macbook) as well and were instantly seeing each other close up. It worked, almost too well. The video chat technology makes me wonder just how I could have believed that my children were once cute and snuggly.

By by the way…I accomplished all this for nothing. Oovoo as well as Skype, iChat (that’s Apple’s software they have included in their products) as well as other video chat software is available for free. There is no cost for two-way video time. Also, calls to other Oovoo members. Oovoo gets away with this by charging for advertising so be sure that you don’t click the link of a third party in the video calling screen. I can get premium features such as audio calls, greater number of participants in a video call more resolution, and better saving of video conferences and desktop sharing too. Business plans, which incorporate these features , as well as more tech support and administrative capabilities, vary from $39.95 per month for a single user to $699.95 every month to accommodate 50 people.

Marty and Lee appear to be in love with this. “If I say ‘how’s business going’ and I don’t see a client’s face when he answers then I’m not getting the whole answer,” Marty says. “I need to look in people’s eyes if I can really help them. It adds a whole new level of accountability.” Lee loves the opportunity to get in touch with his customers and to share his thoughts without the necessity of taking all day to travel.

You might think that I’m all on board, right? Unfortunately, I’m not. In fact, I’m going to pretend to be on video talking for a few minutes for my own business. I’ve got my own reasons.

It’s for a start, it’s an annoyance. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned. Maybe I’m just a little nervous having unknown teenagers see me in my boxers at all hours of the night (it’s certainly not an attractive appearance). But I do a great deal of work from home. In the times I’m working on my phone, I’m doing other things like walking around or checking ESPN, clipping my toenails. I’m not sure if my clients would want to see all that. I’m not certain ANYONE would like to see it. And I’m going to bet the people I’m talking to do not want me to observe what they’re doing too. Certain things are best left to imagination.

In addition, video chat isn’t essential to run my business. I don’t have coaching or consultation like Marty. I’m not demonstrating landscape designs like Lee. I’m not looking at bedsores or a broken gutter hanging off a roof. Nobody wants the chance to meet my visage. They want to see my software, and how it can aid their staff to become more productive. I’ve got great desktop sharing tools that can aid me in this.

Video chat? It’s a lot of fun for teens. It’s beneficial for some business owners. But with a face as similar to mine? I’m not interested.

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