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Web Conferencing – The Highs And The Lows


Web conferencing has become an accepted practice in most businesses nowadays. With its simple ease, it allows people to connect over long distances at convenient times for everyone. It has become a tool for meeting with clients, team meeting across the globe, webinar presentation, interactive questions and answer sessions, teaching and lecturing and customer relations calls.

As with every tool, web conferencing has its advantages and disadvantages. As technology is moving forward, not everyone is keen for it to replace traditional methods and resistance can sometimes prove difficult when trying to implement a system such as this.

The Advantages
Cost Savings

In the past business travel was perhaps one of the most costly ventures for commercial organizations. If a company worked on a global scale, they often required employees to travel long distances to meet with clients and other team members in order to discuss the implementation of new plans or organize sales. It was an accepted method of face-to-face interaction that enabled a working relationship which cannot necessarily be gained via telephone, email or writing.

Travelling is expensive. Whether by car, train or aeroplane, they are many costs involved with a business trip away. The actual transportation, accommodation, food allowances and other expenses tacked on top.

Web conferencing has provided an amazing outlet for companies to enable those meetings to still occur, but without the travelling costs that accompany a business trip. Having the capacity for face-to-face interaction without even leaving the office, less employees have to travel and therefore less of the company budget is allocated to this allowance.

Increased Productivity

Anyone newly back from a holiday far away abroad will tell you travel is tiring. Jet lag, time differences and generally uncomfortable sleeping arrangements mean that there is a recovery period for people arriving home from trips away.

This is the same for business. If employees are having to travel to various destinations in order to meet with clients and business associates, their mind is tired and focussing on the job in hand to the best of their ability is sometimes a big ask.

By web conferencing, attendees of meetings no longer have to sit in a car for 3 hours in rush hour traffic. They no longer have to arrive at the airport at unheard of hours in the morning. They can organize meetings that fit in with their schedule and can focus all their energy prior to kick off on preparing for what is to come. This means increased productivity and a more succinct and thorough outcome.

Better Customer Relations

Previously, customers spread around the globe were hard to get in touch with. Via telephone and email, companies found themselves having to attempt a half-hearted client relationship. Customers, however, prefer to meet face-to-face and those hundreds of miles away often didn’t have this opportunity.

With online conferencing however, it increases the possibility of having several meetings with a client to build that all important rapport. Even with business travel, a company in Japan may only be able to meet with you once, due to the time and cost restraints of such a long distance trip. Web conferencing gives you the opportunity to meet these people using an interactive platform, to have similar meetings on numerous occasions.

The Disadvantages

Customer Resistance

Not everyone is delighted with the influx of new technology flooding today’s markets. Sometimes customers just prefer meeting face-to-face. They prefer the traditional handshake greeting to a wave online halfway across the world. They may prefer to meet in their own environment to feel they have control. Sometimes they’re just frightened of trying something new, other times, despite HIPAA compliant video conferencing, they’re worried about security.

Whatever the reason, clients may sometimes refuse to use online conferencing tools to hold their meetings. Whereas most businesses willingly moved forward from letter writing to email, web conferencing seems to have sparked obstinacy in some companies, where they refuse to budge on formal meetings where every participant is in the same room.

There’s no hiding

With it being such an easy to use tool, many companies fail to understand the idea of privacy and ‘out of work’ hours. As they still want to meet within their own working day, clients may sometimes organize meetings which collide with your down time and refuse to budge.
With business travel, you find yourself in the same timezone as clients in France or Australia of Thailand. With web conferencing, you’re working in your own time zone, which aren’t always the office hours your customer wants to work on.

Web conferencing can also be an issues when using such programs as Skype, where clients can ring you for a quick answer, despite how busy you may be, the fact you’re asleep because it’s the middle of the night, or that you’re in another meeting. Not all clients are considerate and web conferencing makes it difficult to use the ‘I’m not here’ excuse.

How secure is secure?

This works on two levels. You may have a HIPAA Compliant video conferencing tool, but sometimes clients don’t believe that their conversation with you is as secure as you say it is. They’re worried about hackers, viruses and all types of issues related to their privacy and therefore prefer to meet face-to-face.

Additionally, downloading the wrong tool can leave you with an issue. Many people pose viruses as ‘cheap’ or ‘easy to use tools’ and you can end up spreading a virus within your own company and to others if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing.

Before Emily Jenkins was a freelance writer, she worked for a software company that sold high profile networking solutions. The key algorithm was a company secret which was integral to keep. Having to meet with team members halfway across the globe, she realised , thanks to, that using secure video conferencing meant she could discuss that secret without fear of interruption from unwanted sources, allowing her to get all her work done without leaving the comfort of her own desk!

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