Companies, government entities, nonprofits and entrepreneurs today have a need like never before in history to be able to communicate effectively “live” with people at great distances. This type of real-time communication is so essential because connections between people who do not live or work near each other are becoming increasingly dense and complex.
One common solution for this challenge is that of phone and, more frequently, web-based conferencing. Phone-based calling is limited to voice, while web-based conferencing adds a number of additional, useful dimensions to the communication process. If you are in the market for a conference call service provider or just want to find out more about what your options are, you will benefit from understanding more about web conferencing.
For starters, there are myriad web conferencing providers in the marketplace today, each offering systems with very different (but often overlapping) feature sets. In order to help you get a better lay of the land for web conferencing systems, here is an over view of the 7 main types of systems – which are divided into categories by how they will be primarily used:
1. Simple online meetings:
If your interest in these systems is basically to conduct simple online meetings using audio and screen-sharing features (whereby all participants can see the presenter’s computer screen on their own screens, remotely), then a simple online meeting system is recommended. Systems like Fuze Meeting, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Tokbox, GoToMeeting (Citrix), and WebEx should do the trick.
2. Large-scale webcasting:
If you have the need to present to hundreds or even thousands of people at once, such as when conducting a nationwide sales seminar online, consider one of these systems: TalkPoint and GoToWebinar.
3. Enterprise collaboration:
Some midsize and large companies need to be able to conduct work collaboration on projects across distances. This might include application sharing, annotation, and other features (in addition to video and voice). Consider these systems: Genesys Meeting Center, IBM Lotus Sametime, Oracle Beehive, ShowDocument, TimeBridge, and Adobe Acrobat Connect.
4. Education & training:
Need to get a lot of people trained remotely? Or, maybe you run an educational institution that relies upon the Internet to reach out to students with educational materials and courses. Try one of these systems: Elluminate, Openmeetings, and WebTrain.
5. Rich media sharing:
If you work in the multi-media world such as film, music or art, you are going to want a system that is well-optimized for running rich media applications. Check out: Dimdim and OmNovia Technologies.
6. Customer support:
Some systems are idea for supporting customers or members of an organization who are working remotely for IT or other customer service reasons. These systems can do the trick: Glance and Netviewer.
7. Remote access:
If your main goal is to gain access to someone else’s system (with their permission, of course), Citrix Online is one of the industry leaders. (author’s note: all information provided herein is as accurate as possible, but some information may have changed since time of article publication!) As you can see, there are many web and conference call service providers in the marketplace to choose from. Consider the systems mentioned above, depending upon your intended use of the system.