Web Conferencing of the Future

By Lain Ehmann

With transportation and lodging costs rising and continued concerns about safety, it’s no wonder the popularity of Web conferencing is soaring. Not only can Web-hosted meetings take the strain off frequent travelers, it also can save your company a ton of money. For example, users of WebEx.com, a leading Web conferencing provider, have cited savings as great as 20% on sales costs, says a company spokesperson.

When evaluating Web conferencing solutions look for these features.

  • Scalability. Make sure the provider can meet your audience demand. Solutions are available that can scale from 2 participants to 2,000 or more.
  • Application sharing. There are many one-way solutions that are presentation-only. For full functionality you will want to be able to hand the controls over to other participants in remote locations.
  • Easy swapping between programs. Make sure the option you choose allows you the flexibility of swapping between PowerPoint or Word and another program without disruption.
  • Ease of use. If you are asking 500 participants to log on for your meeting, the last thing you want is to be troubleshooting the installation of new software or footing the bill for additional hardware. Many options don’t require additional backend installations.
  • Interactivity. If you’re using Web conferencing to demo a software product for clients or roll out a new CRM system to the sales force, you’ll want to give the audience a chance to point and click.
  • Security. When evaluating options, ask if the data is stored on the network (bad) or just passes through (good). Also ask what kind of encryption is used.

A few years down the road, expect to see even more versatility, with audio integration, enhanced interactivity and greater flexibility for options such as security and passwords, says Carolyn Campbell, director of marketing for ConferenceCall.com.