Sabrina George is vice president of marketing at Onstream Media & Infinite Conferencing, divisions of Onstream Media Corp., a leading provider of webinar, web conferencing and streaming media solutions.
The days of dedicated phones and conference rooms to conduct web conferences are fast becoming archaic relics, as businesses adapt to the latest advancements in web conferencing technology. A recent survey of small businesses from consultancy Software Advice surveyed small business employees (those from companies with 50 or fewer on staff) that are currently using web conferencing technology to show how these companies are adapting to technology trends, and which web conferencing features they use and value the most. The survey uncovered several things:
Web apps rule
If you don’t have to download software to conduct a web conference, would you? VoIP technology has made it possible to make conference calls without using hardware desk phones or conference phones, and that’s good news. Some 45 percent of respondents said they used Web apps to plug into their web conferencing software, compared to 31 percent using a desktop or laptop app, 15 percent using a conference phone, 5 percent a desk phone and 5 percent a mobile app.
Web conferences start faster
Some 55 percent reported that browser-based online meetings started faster than traditional conference calls and online meetings that take place within dedicated applications, such as Microsoft Skype for Business (formerly Lync) or Cisco Jabber. Along meetings that get going faster, 51 percent said that browser-based online meetings had a better interface than the other online meeting platforms.
Pins can go
Pins for joining online meetings and conference calls has long been a sticking point, as pins tend to get lost in email boxes or deleted entirely. Then there’s the problem of hitting the wrong keys in a long sequence of numbers and having to wait while somebody calls back and redial the entire sequence again. So it’s not surprising that 56% said that web conferences would be much easier without the much-hated pins, another 39% said it would be somewhat easier and 5% said there would be no impact.
Top Features: Scheduling, File-Sharing and Screen-Sharing
Email and calendar scheduling are among the most frequently used features of Web conferencing solutions, with the majority of respondents using those capabilities on a daily basis, according to the study. In fact, screen-sharing, frequently used in webinars, is used on a daily basis by a third of the survey respondents. d And while these functions can help improve communication and efficiency, they are just a few of the features available. Other features available include: real-time polling, recording, webcasting, annotation tools, “raise hand,” Q&A management, slideshow presentation, breakout conference rooms and screen/desktop sharing. Even the least-utilized function “raise a hand,” in which conference attendees are able to flag the conference call presenter with a question, is used by 83 percent of those surveyed.
Virtual product demos on the rise
Planned meetings are the obvious reason for using web conferencing technology, with 84 percent using it for that purpose. But more small businesses are getting savvy to an easy and cost-effective way to demo products, more than half (55 percent) said they use web conferencing for online demos, such as trade shows. Just under half use web conferencing for webinars for market research, one-on-one collaboration, customer support and training.
It’s clear that small businesses understand that all the web conferencing tools at their disposal aren’t just nice, added functionality. These companies are embracing these web conferencing products and turning them into vital must-have, revenue generators and essential tools for small business professionals.
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