Today's businesses are drawing multiple benefits from video conferencing and the facility of ad hoc communication is definitely one of them. By definition, an ad hoc conference is the kind of conference that can take place immediately without scheduling. Given the nature of today's businesses, where all processes need to be fast and spontaneous, this feature comes in handy at those times when you have to discuss matters of pressing need or there's an urgent requirement to talk to your dispersed team.  

Sure, you can use a video conference meeting room, but the reality is that you'll want to escalate your one-to-one conversation to include others, and this is where ad hoc, on the fly, video conferencing helps you to cut to the chase. While most conference service providers claim to offer ad hoc conferencing as a part of their service, not all of them meet up to our expectation. This naturally leads us to the question -what is a true ad hoc video experience?

What are the different kinds of ad hoc video conferencing?

To understand what an ideal ad hoc conference may look like, let's talk briefly about the different ways of connecting an instant video conference:

1. Room based
You need privacy, so you walk into an available meeting room and simply dial out and add each person to your meeting. At this point you don't want to put friction in the way and set up a meeting, you simply want to use video as if you and others were all in the same building and could all just walk into the same room - right then and there.

2. Desktop
Here you may use a hardware based system or have a software client, but in either case you're on video already and want to escalate from a direct conversation straight into a multiparty session. In this scenario, you'd expect to use a directory or drop down list and simply press one button to call out. Alternatively, you may want to hit the ground running and just have a team meeting at your desk.

3. Mobile
You're on the road, in a hotel or maybe at home and you need to instantly respond to an evolving situation. Using a software video client on a laptop, tablet or phone, should allow you to, again, dial out and add people in the same way that you can when are at your desk or in a meeting room. In each of these scenarios there's no time like the present. To arrange a meeting where you all have to dial into a virtual meeting room is just interference. Ad hoc video conferencing is all about immediacy and does not require the booking of meeting rooms, scheduling and calendar invites, which are all necessary steps for prearranged meetings.

What are the challenges we face while setting up an ad hoc video conference?
Ad hoc conferences can be achieved using embedded and dedicated resources. While embedded or multi-site variety enables you to transition from point-to-point calls with two endpoints to conferences with three or more endpoints without having to set up an external dedicated device, ad hoc through dedicated resources need an extra device, such as an MCU or dedicated bridge, to allow the blending of multiple video and audio streams. However, if we look at the experience we want to gain from our ad hoc video conferences - ease of use, no additional hardware and no complex dial-ins - very few services are truly able to provide us with these features. Moreover, ad hoc communications are traditionally known as complex and expensive, which keeps most organizations from experiencing the true benefits of this feature.

Why do you need ad hoc video conference capability?
Ad hoc communication not only accelerates our decision-making process, but it also improves the quality of interactions that positively affect our business collaboration. When it comes to meetings at very short notice, few methods are as useful as ad hoc conferencing. To put it all together, in order to enjoy a truly ad hoc video conferencing experience, we need a service that's:

  • Quick and easy
  • Doesn't require dial-in
  • Allows you to reach anyone within or without your organization
  • Doesn't require hardware or infrastructure

With the ideal ad hoc video communication, conferences are just as easy as connecting to one person and adding the other members - absolutely no frills. Until you get this level of convenience from your video conferencing service, you can't be sure if it is ad hoc or something else. Remember, if it's not ad hoc, you need a better video conferencing solution for your business.