This vendor-written tech primer\u00a0has been\u00a0edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but\u00a0readers should note it will likely favor the submitter\u2019s approach.\nVideo collaboration is an increasingly essential business communications tool, with business Internet video projected to grow more than 30% annually through 2018, according to Cisco\u2019s latest Visual Networking Index report. However, many companies are unfamiliar with the options, concerned about logistical issues with deployments and unsure how to calculate the true costs of video for everyday business use.\nWhile the deployment questions must be addressed, the traditional lens through which businesses are viewing video is problematic. Besides considering the cost of investing in video \u2013 the hardware, software and management of the technologies \u2013 enterprises must also consider the cost of foregoing the investment. Missed business opportunities, talent recruiting challenges, lack of competitive differentiation, problematic customer care, and lost reinvestment capital are among the significant risks enterprises take when delaying a video deployment.\nIn terms of options, video is realistic for all types of business needs \u2013 from the browser to the boardroom. The choice question ultimately comes back to the needs of the organization, but IT managers should know that quality video is available across a variety of use cases \u2013 experience does not have to be compromised and should not impact the bottom line.\nAn important consideration when choosing a well-designed video system is integration with existing unified communication and collaboration solutions. If a company\u2019s communications infrastructure is developed on a piecemeal basis with siloed solutions, IT managers can become frustrated trying to get the pieces to work together. Video should be flexible enough so that participants can join from different devices, from a room or desk-based system or a desktop computer to a tablet or smartphone. Video users should also have the same rich benefits as a voice user with features like extension mobility, call forwarding and voicemail.\nAs you embark on your video collaboration journey, there are four key factors to consider: simplicity, reliability, scalability, and security.\nA great, simplicity-driven user experience is critical for adoption. Ideally, vendors are making simple, intuitive tools that don\u2019t require a user manual. Any necessary training should then be addressed up front \u2013 ultimately an investment in video is wasted if workers are not using it to bring value back to the organization through improved sales, better customer loyalty, reduced travel costs and other use cases.\nVideo deployments must be reliable. Once users have access to video and become accustomed to seeing other meeting participants through video, taking that access away or offering a compromised experience can seriously impair adoption and stall better business outcomes.\nScalability is important because a deployment must be designed with the capacity to grow. A modestly sized implementation may be adequate for calls involving a relative handful of people, but in many cases, the more that video is available, the more people want to use it. You will need to plan for more endpoints, more bandwidth and more video-enabled conference rooms as the business grows.\nAnd lastly, a service must be secure. The downside of using a free, unrestricted video platform for business is security. Business video traffic should be encrypted when sensitive information is being discussed, such as new product development or litigation in which the company is involved.\nIT managers are often confused by the cost considerations with video collaboration. One consideration is whether to develop a dedicated, fixed cost network or subscribe to a pay-as-you-go service. Some cloud-based video conferencing services charge what seems like a low price per minute, per user, but as the service gets more popular, users will be making more calls, talking longer and inviting more people online, generating a sticker shock bill at the end of the month.\nWhile these cost considerations should be addressed, I\u2019d argue that the true cost of video collaboration lies in the cost of not deploying at all. Video can create new business opportunities. In healthcare, a doctor in a big city hospital can treat a patient in a remote area. In financial services, a customer in a small branch can connect to a mortgage lender at a bigger branch.\nIn retail, video collaboration can move a business from e-commerce \u2013 clicking on an item and having it delivered \u2013 to e-services, in which an end-to-end customer experience takes place over video. For instance, a home improvement store can create an e-service so a shopper can talk via video with a kitchen designer who can visually help them with a remodeling project, sharing samples of paint, wallpaper, cabinets, countertops and other components.\nIn essence, developing a video strategy is not just about where a business can cut costs, but how the business can grow.\nWe\u2019ve seen an energy company that operates offshore oilrigs look for a way for experts to consult with rig operators without having to fly hundreds of miles to the rig. Video was the solution.\u201cInstead of bringing the expert to the problem, we\u2019re going to bring the problem to the expert,\u201d the company told us.\nAn example of how video can be integrated with existing processes comes from the business travel services firm Sabre. Sabre\u2019s travel planning application for booking flights, hotels and rental cars can now also identify video conference rooms in various cities to which the company has access, eliminating the need for a flight to meet others within the company. In one case, Sabre customer Harman Kardon saved substantially on internal business travel and reinvested the capital to external travel expenses. Meeting face-to-face with customers allowed the company to win new business and further develop existing relationships. Video allowed Harman to ensure that spending money on travel would result in better business outcomes rather than shuffling employees from office to office.\nFinally, video conferencing is increasingly being embraced by human resources departments as a recruiting tool and is increasingly important for attracting new, young talent. Perhaps the most often referenced generation in today\u2019s vernacular, Gen Y wants access to the newest technology and is using video in their personal lives to connect, particularly on mobile devices.\nIn fact, a Cisco survey of young business people released in August 2013 found that 87% of respondents believe that video has a significant and positive impact on an organization and the vast majority would prefer to work for a video-enabled company over one that has not deployed video. \u201cCollege-age kids don\u2019t want to work at a company where there\u2019s old technology. They want the new stuff,\u201d said Gail Hagen, manager of conference resources at AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical firm, which uses video for hiring and recruiting on college campuses.\nOverall, the video conferencing business is booming with new companies entering the space, new platforms emerging and new video applications being created. Careful planning is needed to make smart decisions about what type of video investments to make and how to consider the costs of making these changes. But sitting on the sidelines is not advisable. It may cost your business too much.\nCisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. For ongoing news, please go to\u00a0http:\/\/thenetwork.cisco.com.