In this era of remote work and global organizations, our ability to connect and meet from anywhere is more than just “nice to have.” It’s a necessity.
So the real question now is how do you find the right technology provider? With many options, it can be tough to sift through endless feature comparisons, pricing options, and general industry FUD. So how do you decide? Start with this list to define your needs:
- How will your organization use web-based conferencing?
- Is improving employee productivity a primary goal?
- Is simple solution management important?
- Have you thought about risk-proofing your investment?
OK, now let’s dig into each area.
How will your organization use web-based conferencing?
Are your meetings for internal teams? With clients? Partners? Vendors? All of the above?
Make sure the solution you choose offers options for users to customize the experience. People are more likely to adopt a conferencing solution that lets them connect their choice of devices such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones, video devices, and video-enabled desk phones. That way your employees don’t have to adapt to the solution – it lets them work the way they work. Recording options, auto callback, and the ability to use with scheduling tools like Outlook make it simpler to use and integrate with their existing tools and work styles. The ability to initiate meetings on demand gives people the ability to connect quickly and easily, whenever inspiration strikes.
If you’re using online meetings as part of your customer care solution, the reliability and ease of use are critical. A negative customer experience can affect client perceptions of your company. Technology integration is also essential. Beware of niche solution providers that offer only a small piece of the puzzle. More comprehensive solutions simplify integration and reduce the number of vendors you need to engage. A fully integrated solution will be important here. Consider how the various pieces will need to work together (voice, web conferencing, collaboration tools and customer care).
Solutions that offer the most breadth will help you avoid a “patchwork” solution where you have to engage multiple vendors to meet your feature needs. In a multi-vendor situation, implementation, troubleshooting, and support become much more challenging.
Consider your company’s policies and need around secure communication. Be sure to weigh the strength and track record of each conferencing vendor in this area as well. Along with all that’s great about our digital world, it also comes with hackers and malware.
Is improving employee productivity a primary goal?
The modern workplace is mobile. If not extinct, the days of “everyone in the same room” meetings are on the endangered species list. Enabling workers in multiple locations is essential, whether remote offices, living rooms, or coffee shops. To be most productive, employees need the ability to use the device of their choice – and move easily between devices. Limitations or complex systems mean employees are often wasting valuable meeting time troubleshooting rather than focusing on work.
Simple options for starting and joining meetings keep meetings on schedule – and teams productive. Functions like single button start and Call Me (where the meeting calls you) can keep meetings running on time.
Limiting distractions or interruptions during meetings is also important. A new innovation from Cisco offers background noise detection, which recognizes sounds including sirens, typing, or barking dogs. If it detects background sounds on a user’s line, WebEx pops a notification that encourages the user to mute.
Just using video can also make meetings much more productive. Workers feel more connected, focused, and engaged, while also retaining more of the information shared by others.
“With our distributed workforce, video has been a vital and natural way to keep people connected and productive.”
Jay Moran, VP Technical Operations, Cimpress
Is simple solution management important?
Consider which vendors offer the most comprehensive solution and the easiest integration across your communications portfolio. The alternative is juggling vendors or having to patch together multiple systems. This is where niche providers (or one-trick ponies) pose the biggest challenges. Choosing a provider that offers only a basic, limited meeting solution can lead to operational and troubleshooting challenges, especially with integration or as your needs grow.
Broader, more integrated solutions can also increase solution adoption and decrease support cases.
Have you thought about risk-proofing your investment?
With the speed of change in markets and business trends in general, it’s hard to predict future needs. How fast will you grow? Will you have more partners in different regions a year from now? Today’s needs are important, but tomorrow has to be part of the equation.
Smaller providers come and go. And when they go, where do their customers go? Choose a vendor with a solid balance sheet and a strong solution roadmap.
A proven ability to innovate is important. If your provider’s solution stagnates, how do you keep up with competitors and customer expectations?
Now that you’ve outlined your needs, be sure you properly research your top provider options.
Always verify vendor claims, both in terms of what they say about their own solution and what they say about competitors. It’s no surprise that companies can (and will) stretch the truth when it best serves them. In fact, in my research, I noticed that another conferencing vendor claims on its web site to have the “#1 web and video conferencing solution.” However, it wasn’t based on any publicly available source. Having spent many years in marketing myself, I can’t blame them – it’s their job to make their product look good. But, as with any major buying decision, buyers should beware. Ask the tough questions, and then verify their answers.
We live in the digital age where communication between employees and with customers is your lifeline. And things like customer support and business agility can make or break market viability.
Bauer used Cisco meeting solutions to cut down on travel. But the benefits of video conferencing have gone beyond time and cost savings. “Getting to market 10% faster is a huge advantage over our competitors,” reports Andreas Schitter, the company’s CFO. Teams have become more productive and agile, and that’s great for business.
With so much at stake, this is no place to sacrifice quality for cut rate meeting service. So consider Cisco WebEx. Not only does Gartner place Cisco as a leader in four separate Magic Quadrants for unified communications, web conferencing, contact center infrastructure, and group video systems, but Cisco is also leader in the Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems Magic Quadrant. (See our listing of analyst reports for more.)
We know collaboration. We know security. And we offer the leading, most used and trusted conferencing solution in the industry.
Looking for a reliable, enterprise-grade conferencing system for your business? Try WebEx today with a 30-day free trial.