Organizations that need to communicate with staff, clients, or students who are in different locations are quickly realizing the value of using video conferencing, web conferencing, and online meetings. It’s important to first identify your needs before comparing them to the various online conferencing systems that are being provided in the market if you’ve been considering using this technology for your business. Here are a few things to consider when you shop around for the system that is best for you:
1. Do you need to communicate with a single fixed location or with a number of locations that might change? Some conferencing systems are made to link two or more particular places. A fixed connection system may be suitable for you if you need to communicate with both your head office and a fixed branch office.
However, you should select a system that enables you to add users regardless of where they log in from if you want to connect with a variety of locations or allow people anywhere to join your conferences or meetings.
2. Do you prefer a browser-based system or are you capable of using proprietary software? Some of the first web and video conferencing programs required their own software and sometimes even unique hardware to be installed. Today, conferencing systems can be used without the use of specialized hardware and are compatible with all browsers and operating systems. Consider the various systems available and pick the one that best suits the technical capabilities of your company.
3. Are some of your participants protected by firewalls? These days, firewalls are used to protect many offices, if not most of them, as well as individual computers connected to the Internet. Although the firewalls prevent hackers, some conferencing systems may have issues as a result. Check to see if the conferencing system of your choice can handle this issue.
4. How important do you think video is? You will need a system that enables some locations to connect to the meeting with a web camera if you want to see your coworkers and staff as they participate in your meetings. The application that best meets your needs will depend on how many separate video windows the various applications that you are considering permit.
5. Which features are required? Do you want to conduct an online poll of attendees and receive results right away? A question can be asked by the host in some systems, and everyone can then vote or respond by using their computers’ mouse.
Would you like to distribute applications online? If your conferencing system permits application sharing, the host could present PowerPoint presentations, for instance, that everyone in the room could see.
Make a list of the communications features you require and compare them to the capabilities of each system you are considering.
6. You want as many features as you can get, of course, but you also need to consider the price. Consider the advantages of communicating online when making your choice, the expense of doing so offline, and the costs associated with using conference technology, before considering your options. Pick a communications plan that will provide you with a good return on your investment.
Armed with this checklist, search for web or video conferencing online and choose a system that will enable you to hold meetings online at a cost you can afford.