Web conferencing provides real-time communication that includes video, as well as audio and text. Web conferencing is used for conducting meetings, training, lectures, presentations, and other employee collaborations via high-speed Internet connection.
Web conferencing has evolved from traditional room-based videoconferences, which rely on specialized hardware and dedicated transmission equipment. Advances in technology make web conferencing easily affordable for a one-person business, as well as a multinational corporation. Systems available on both desktop and mobile platforms require only a web browser or an easily installed application. Moving conferencing capabilities from a room to a screen eliminates the hassle of scheduling room reservations and dealing with chargebacks, not to mention eliminating the need to have a room at all.
Although Web conferencing applications initially aimed at consumers, such as Skype and FaceTime, may lack certain functions, they nevertheless offer quality, convenience, and end-user familiarity, often at no cost. Commercial applications offer more features, interoperability with other systems, and greater security.
Turnkey, room-based video conferencing applications with high-quality video continue to have their place; however, as the trend toward a mobile workforce continues, there is an increasing need to integrate laptop and mobile device web-conferencing abilities into these meetings.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Saving time and money. First and foremost, web conferencing brings together workers in disparate geographical locations without the need for travel. Participants can interact with one another as if they all were in the same room.
- Fostering collaboration. Increasingly, web conferencing is seen not only as a tool to conduct virtual meetings, but also as a means to foster collaboration. Advanced web conferencing features allow users to share or take turns controlling applications, and to share documents. These real-time sharing capabilities significantly improve problem solving and facilitate brainstorming. Ad hoc meetings can be convened almost instantly to address an emerging issue, bringing together relevant parties regardless of physical location.
- Doing it once. By recording a web conference, you don't need to do the same presentation more than once. Not only can anyone who misses the original meeting view it as needed, but future employees or clients can access the recording with no additional time or effort.
- Getting fast feedback. You can use web conferencing polling and survey features to get an instant picture of participants' concerns and questions.
- No classrooms are required. Traditional training sessions usually limit participation to the number of people who can fit into a room. Web conferencing can train an unlimited number of people easily and conveniently.
- Improved productivity. Faster and better communication among work teams leads to faster project completion rates, with fewer mishaps.
- Better IT support. Desktop sharing capabilities let technical support staff take control of a user's computer to fix a problem. No need to bring your laptop into the shop: the tech person can look at your computer from wherever you may be.
- It's better than email for communicating important news. Certain kinds of information -- good or bad -- are best delivered in person. But what if you can't meet face-to-face because of differing locations? Well, there's the phone or email, but there's no eye contact and it's not as personal. While web conferencing may not be exactly the same as a personal visit, it's the next best thing.
- Easy connectivity. Employees already have the equipment they need: a PC, laptop or mobile device with an Internet connection. There's no extensive capital investment in extra hardware.
- Improved hiring. Screen talent from anywhere around the world as if you were interviewing them in your office.
- Improved client relationships. Employees can interact with clients – particularly those far away -- more directly and regularly to not only provide increased transparency, but to strengthen collaboration.
- Flexibility and adjustability. Impromptu meetings are difficult enough to hold even when employees are floors apart, let alone buildings apart or farter. A quick email can gather the people you need when you need them to attend a conference of any length, without any setup time or expense.