Web Conferencing: A Boon to Businesss

It is Sunday evening and you are preparing again to go on a business trip. Monday morning the alarm goes off at 4:00 am, you drag your body and your briefcase to your car, drive to the airport, wait in a long line, get on a plane, get off a plane, and find your way to your client's office. When you finally get home Monday night, you have spent more time traveling than meeting and you have dozens of emails and several important phone calls to return.

According to leading web conferencing service providers, the typical sales cycle can be cut two to three weeks with web conferencing. Providing a virtual conference room environment, web conferencing eliminates the need to travel, linking geographically disperse workgroups and telecommuters. The return on investment for web conferencing can be measured not only in dollars and cents, but also in personnel efficiency, knowledge distribution and increased sales opportunities.

The ability to virtually link workgroups and project teams enables real-time collaboration, a task that once required lengthy email threads or face-to-face meetings.

Web conferencing enables businesses to:

  • Reduce operating costs

  • Minimize unnecessary travel

  • Close sales and negotiate contracts faster

  • Enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of communication

  • Deliver clear, concise and consistent training

  • Encourage real-time collaboration between distant and local co-workers

  • Engage in greater levels of communication with clients and business partners

Since its inception, web conferencing usage has expanded to a number of business applications such as daily sales and marketing efforts, interaction with co-workers and customers, corporate presentations and training initiatives. Financial corporations use web conferencing for internal meetings, customer briefings, employee training, client consultations and investment workshops. Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies use Web conferencing for product promotion and marketing, sales presentations and demonstrations, and product training and development. Educational institutions use web conferencing for project teams and student workshops. And, government agencies rely on web conferencing for training and inter-agency communication.

Most organizations use outsourced web conferencing. Why? Because of the quickly changing technology, businesses opt not to invest in what could soon be obsolete. In addition, on a day-to-day basis, it is more cost effective to have web conferencing outsourced. Additional reasons include:

  • Leading edge functionality provides greater levels of security, moderator control, and participant options.

  • Your people can now focus on your core business, not support systems.

  • The external company makes the investment in new features so that your fixed costs are reduced and your overall expenditures are lowered.

  • With no capital expense, new technology can be implemented with minimal impact to the bottom line.

When beginning the search for a web conferencing solution, start with setting your objectives and determining the features you require. Here are a few basic questions that should be answered:

  • How many participants do you anticipate attending your online meetings or events?

  • Will the number of participants remain consistent from meeting to meeting or will the number change?

  • How many meetings will be conducted each week, month, quarter? Will usage fluctuate depending on the time of the year?

  • What type of content will be presented (Power Point slides, software applications, web-based applications, documents, or spreadsheets)?

  • What degree of interactivity do you require (Q&A, polling/voting, application sharing, text chatting, live video, file sharing, etc.)?

  • Do you want your own software or a hosted solution?

  • How much technical support or event management support do you require?

  • What is your monthly budget?

  • Are there any special security requirements?

Once you have determined your requirements, screen a number of vendors. Visit their web site, review live demos, and seek client testimonials. Here are few suggestions for choosing a vendor:

Select a pricing model. Determine whether you want to pay-per-use (you pay only for the time you and your attendees spend in web conferences) or pay-per-seat (you pay a flat monthly fee for a certain number of "seats"). Pay-per-use pricing is the better conservative choice for most companies learning to how to use web conferencing for their business. You avoid set up charges and you don't have to monitor the number of concurrent users in order to avoid overage charges. You can always start with a pay-per-use plan and switch to a pay-per-seat plan once there is a clear, long-term financial advantage.

Get the features you need. Some web conferencing solutions only support online presentations while others offer full-featured packages that include polling, chatting, application-sharing, white boarding and group web surfing. Make sure that the product meets your needs.

Check into customer support levels. Is training and ongoing support available? What hours? Is there an extra fee? Is there a telephone number available so that you can contact a support person or is only email support offered? What are their support hours? Call each vendor's customer service number and see if you get a live person vs. a menu or voice mail. You don't want to be in a situation where an attendee has technical problems joining a critical meeting and not be able to contact a live person immediately.

Consider security requirements. Depending on the audience and the information being sharing, security may be a concern. Most solutions are secure enough and do not store meeting data any place except on the presenter's PC. Participants only see a graphical representation of the data through a standard web browser. Some services provide pass code authorization, basic encryption, and the ability to lock and unlock the meeting.

So, the next time Sunday night comes around and you are faced with another week of travel, email trails, difficulty in scheduling training and long lead times in closing sales and negotiating contracts, do yourself a favor and look into web conferencing for your business.

About The Author

Denise Bridgens has more than 20 years experience in product marketing and product management for communications and is the founder of Argo Navis IT. Argo Navis IT is a value added reseller of Premiere Conferencing services and is their exclusive Minority Women Business Enterprise partner. Premiere Conferencing has consistently led the industry in developing the most advanced conferencing solutions, fulfilling today's business-critical communications needs and delivering the highest levels of security and reliability. Argo Navis IT is headquartered in Morristown, NJ and is opening an office in a HUB zone shortly. The company contributes 10% of profits annually to battered women's shelters. To learn more about Argo Navis IT, visit their web site at www.argonavisit.com

In The News:

Rising Kashmir  Rising Kashmir
Meeting Room Booking Software | Condeco  Facility Executive Magazine

New Service Utilizes Videoconferencing for Easy Access to London Academic Expertise

An innovative service, launched in March 2005 enables educational institutions... Read More

Telephone Conferencing ? Evolution in the Web

The Need To CommunicateThe need for businesses to communicate both... Read More

Web Conferencing: A Boon to Businesss

It is Sunday evening and you are preparing again to... Read More

The Future of Thought Swapping

In the future we will be able to have small... Read More

Science Learning from Nature

We are sure seeing a lot of scientific research trying... Read More

Web Conferencing 101

First, a small disclaimer: No matter how you slice up... Read More

Web Conferencing Software ? Choosing Your Application

It is worth bearing in mind that, when you are... Read More

Tips On Planning A Successful Video Conference

Planning a successful video conference can actually be harder then... Read More

How to Get Your Video Production Right the FIRST Time

I'll cut to the chase. To make your video look... Read More

The Benefits of Using Conference Calling for the Psychotherapist

Conference calling can save you time and money. For those... Read More

How Video Conferencing Works ? Multimedia, Interactive Communication Across the Miles

You may think you understand video conferencing pretty well until... Read More

The History of Video Conferencing ? Moving Ahead at the Speed of Video

No new technology develops smoothly, and video conferencing had more... Read More

Web Conferencing ? the Virtual Global Office Enabler

Online collaboration has begun to evolve from just being the... Read More

Web Conferencing Services ? Types

You may already have recognized the need for web conferencing... Read More

Video Conferencing Basics

This article will provide you a brief introduction about what... Read More

Webcams: Science-Fiction Becomes Reality

One of the most incredible inventions I've ever come across... Read More

Video Killed The Telephone Star ...

You know the 80's song, "Video Killed the Radio Star."... Read More

Dial-up Vs. Broadband Video

The decision to pay the extra fees and move from... Read More

Benefits of Web-Based Conferencing

I recently graduated from college, and instead of taking a... Read More

Video Conferencing ? An Affordable Medium

Just like prices for computers and telephone systems have reduced,... Read More

Web Conferencing: Finding a Service Provider that Meets Your Needs

With the vast amount of service providers that are available... Read More

Seven Steps to a Vital Videoconference

When it's time for your fifteen minutes of fame will... Read More

Web Conferencing ? What is it?

Web Conferencing is, very simply, a meeting, conference or seminar... Read More

Web Conferencing Tool ? Reduce Your Communication Costs

For most people in business, meetings are a necessary evil.... Read More

Redefining Distance to Market your Company

The recent terrorist attacks here in the US have caused... Read More