When the need for a web conferencing system becomes inevitable, you have to have one fast, right? Wrong! Spending money on the tool that can make or break your company’s future requires more than just your impulse. You need to know what your specific interaction needs are, what system will work best for you, how much such a system will cost, and how reliable and guaranteed such a system will be. Knowing all of this will help you make the right choice when looking for a web conferencing system.
What you need determines everything
Look for a specific system that you need. You may already know this, but it needs to be said again so you don’t lose your money with an inappropriate system.
There are numerous vendors and numerous different web conferencing tools online; searching for a system you need can be very confusing. Determine if what you need falls under the following categories:
- Immediate messaging
- Screen sharing
- Remote PC access
- Chatroom software
- Presentation development and delivery
- Online meetings and presentations
- Live customer support group
- Other services
All web conferencing providers fall into one of these categories. Once you have determined what you need, you can now search for a specific provider from your chosen category.
You should especially be aware of the security features of your potential provider. Hackers and other unauthorized users could take advantage of your network and grab private documents from your server. Check with your provider about the type of security features it has.
The Internet Engineering Job Force (IETF) has developed a standard for web conferencing security: Protect Socket Layer (SSL), non-persistent data flow, and intrusion control. SSL restricts data access to specific recipients and prevents unauthorized access to data. Non-persistent data flow continuously moves your data from one host to another to avoid detection by unauthorized users.
Intrusion control can detect unauthorized users and prevent access to your data. These standards are voluntarily adopted by web conferencing hosting companies and vendors.
Other helpful features
Depending on your needs, you can choose between providers that offer a small meeting hosting service or a 1000-person conference. Video conferencing feature, multilingual support, flash discussion and file sharing (files, PDF, 3D models, CAD drawings, etc.) must also be considered.
Some vendors offer a 30-day trial period, which is ideal if you are not yet sure how your chosen system will work.
Flying clients in for a meeting or gathering your employees for an off-site workshop can be very problematic and costly. But that doesn’t mean you can spend your money on any web conferencing system you find. You still need to make sure you’re getting the best services for every penny you spend.
Web conferencing is either offered as a service or sold with a server-side option. The former is controlled by the provider from their web server. The latter allows you to host your own web conferences through your own server. The service can be paid per minute, per named user, per port or per month.
There are different features provided by different providers. Be wise in choosing what you really need by considering the factors mentioned above.
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