Web-Conferencing: Will You Please Just Click to Meet?

Time is precious and businesses all over the world are trying to find ways to save it to enhance productivity. A New York Times article terms meetings as “multi-PowerPoint monster”, a “workday’s black hole”. I couldn’t help but agree vehemently.

As if that wasn’t enough, travel costs are unbearable too. Business travellers will continue to bear it for now and into the future. I feel that these meetings and excessive business travel are a huge drain on a company’s expense sheet.

Couldn’t things be done a wee bit smarter?

Technology comes to rescue: the answer is web-conferencing.

Web-conferencing isn’t anything new. It was the 1990’s that first saw the emergence of web- conference taking roots in the ever humble beginnings of email and Instant Messaging – the staple of the early Internet days. Knowledge workers now produce data from anywhere in the world while each of these users have the power to innovate, create, share, collaborate, learn, teach and even sell.

Today, web-conferencing has evolved; it isn’t a bunch of people meeting online and chatting away. It is now termed as “online classrooms”, “Virtual Training” or “Online Training”. Web-conferencing paved roads for the entire e-learning industry. For many businesses today, web-conferencing is a boon. Accenture, a well-known technology consulting company saved over 240 International trips and over 130 domestic flight trips in the year 2008 saving millions of dollars on travel.

The future of web-conference: Is travel going to be replaced?
Going by the progress of some technology company giants and the state of technology today, I think that technology is finally catching up; it doesn’t look vague and science-fiction like anymore.

Web-conferencing itself has matured. Then there’s online document collaboration, web-based meetings, web-based collaboration, the rise of cloud computing and the introduction of SaaS as a great alternative to expensive data centres.

Then, there is the promise of telepresence video-conferencing (Cisco, H.P and Polycom are big here). Right now, I think that telepresence is too expensive but soon, it should be affordable going by the usual trend.

What about small and medium enterprises?
While telepresence is ruled out, I know that small businesses are already taking to online project collaboration, online document creation and management, online based tools for everything from lead generation to invoicing. Companies have even taken to cloud hosted solutions for e-commerce that help in creating better business relationships, make more sales and create brands.

How do you think web-conferencing affected us as a whole? What are some predictions you can make about web-conferencing, video-conferencing, e-learning, online collaboration and other such gifts technology bestowed upon us?

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts and ideas as comments here.

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